It is hard to argue with the irrepressible bubbling spirit that courses forth by way of dancing, a fundamental human urge that shows itself in endless evolving forms across the globe. Whether it be solo contemplative movement, duo partner interaction or collective group performance, personal creative investigation or communicative expression, ritual or ceremony or simply for the fun, dancing progresses in resonance with music, a rhythm and melody directly in line with the soul. A visual artist’s representation of the full range of a dance experience can be an ecstatic description of this complex and inspirational pastime that begs for more than words— a voicing that effortlessly harmonizes with the ways of our own heartbeats.
Fernando Botero – The Dancers, offset lithograph
For Botero, the dancing couple presents a favorite revisited subject, an ideal symbol of the everyday life of folk culture. Part of the allure of Botero’s work hides in the almost comical serious expressions on his subjects’ faces, perhaps affording a measure of gravity to an otherwise joyous activity, calling attention to the importance of having fun. This work The Dancers is in classic Botero charm.
Edgar Degas – A Ballet Dancer, offset lithograph
Edgar Degas – Dancer Seated and Dancers Practicing at the Barre, offset lithographs
Degas is another with whose dancers we are all familiar, the beauty of the ballerina permeating a large portion of his work. Known for his sensitivity, emotion and graceful, painterly marks, his distinctive style is a perfect match for making portraits of ballet dancers.
Kees van Dongen – Spanish Dancer, offset lithograph
Dutch-French artist Kees van Dongen was one of the leading Fauvist painters, carving a mode of expressionism rich with unexpected color and moody disposition. This piece Spanish Dancer seems a celebration of the many deep layers of the human experience as shown through a snapshot in time in the life of a dancer. More than just a portrait of a person and their costume, it acts more as a full story of the beautiful lifestyle that dancing extracts from within.
"...an ecstatic description of this complex and inspirational pastime that begs for more than words— a voicing that effortlessly harmonizes with the ways of our own heartbeats."
Diego Rivera – Battle Dance, offset lithograph 1995
And other depictions of indigenous cultural dance carry much the same level of complexity, portraying both a rich heritage tradition and an intrinsic connection to a present moment aspect of vitality, one that never seems to fade or diminish with time. Diego Rivera’s Battle Dance is full of ferocity and humanity, godliness and earthiness all at once, and Matisse’s Creole Dancer looks both uncontained and powerful, and yet also lighthearted – ancestral and yet contemporary festive as well.
Henri Matisse – Creole Dancer, stone lithograph 1984
Matisse’s circles of hand-holding dancers are well known, this work Study for Dance (III) a prime example of his ability to convey worlds with merely a few simple lines.
Henri Matisse – Study for Dance (III), offset lithograph 2007
In Rauschenberg’s work for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company he is playing around with planes of existence, showing almost film-still-like moments captured from amongst the unfolding waves of modern dance— the plane at the top a stunning dreamlike representation perhaps of the intangible feeling associated with the performance.
Robert Rauschenberg – Merce Cunningham Dance Company, offset lithograph
And for Romero Britto, whose bright and buoyant work ceaselessly uplifts the spirit, his Dancing Couple is an array of patterns and shapes that brushes elbows with the multifaceted and positive activity that dancing encapsulates, something easy to get swept up in. It is probably safe to say we can all commune with this feeling.
Romero Britto – Dancing Couple, silkscreen
Serge Lido – A Life in Dance, offset lithograph 2012 Alphonse Mucha – Dance, offset lithograph