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Misty Copeland Recreates Iconic Images of Degas and His Dancers

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Feb 12, 2016 11:22 AM EST

An Edgar Degas depiction of a ballerina has become a timeless motif in the artist's work. The image of a ballerina today, however, may be altered from its past representation with the entrance of someone like Misty Copeland, a dancer breaking the notions of what a ballerina is "supposed" to look like. Copeland's likeness being a part of a Degas redux, then, brings into question, once again, what a ballerina is meant to be.

The new depictions are a part of Harper's Bazaar's latest feature on dance, specifically Ms. Copeland. Misty-on-pointe has become a major focus in dance, having overcome much adversity throughout her career for the color of her skin and her body type.

This isn't a reason to fret for the ballerina, though. Copeland instead has created new avenues for aspiring youngsters, paving a new way for the definition of dance.

But race wasn't the central opus of the shoot. Rather it was bringing to focus the ballerina and their movements, their strive for perfection and how the body is a canvas. Whether that canvas be for painting or moving, the correlation between Degas and Copeland lies in the art.

Remarking on the retrospective, Copeland said:

"It was interesting to be on a shoot and to not have the freedom to just create like I normally do with my body. Trying to re-create what Degas did was really difficult. It was amazing just to notice all of the small details but also how he still allows you to feel like there's movement. That's what I think is so beautiful and difficult about dance too. You're trying to strive for this perfection, but you still want people to get that illusion that your line never ends and that you never stop moving."

Perhaps that is the glorifying factor to the new series of images featuring Copeland. Having to conform to the small parameters of an image can limit the depth of the figure being portrayed.

But if you look at the work, limit is far from thought.

While Ms. Copeland continues to soar, for now watch her Under Armour ad below.

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TagsMisty Copeland, Edgar Degas