This was originally a horizontal-format painting: the musicians in the orchestra pit at the centre and, on the stage in the background, the ballet dancers, with only the lower halves of their bodies visible. Degas later trimmed the canvas on both sides and extended it at the top. In the version thus revised, the focus on the musicians has widened to include the stage and its dancers. This work launches the long series of ballet depictions for which Degas is as well known today as he is for his unusual ways of framing his scenes.
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