A Day with Degas

Term: 2 Year: 2016

A celebration of the life and artwork of French artist, Edgar Degas, was the focus for Glen Iris Primary School whole school Art/French experience at the end of 2015.

The students recognised his bronze sculpture, The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, and his numerous paintings of ballerinas in rehearsals or backstage before a performance.

During French classes, the students were immersed in language relating to Degas as well as movements in ballet. During Art sessions, they viewed many of his artworks and explored different art techniques and styles used by Degas throughout his life.

Five enthusiastic students in Grade 4 made a replica of the ‘Dancer’ during their lunchtime! A mixture of bronzed and golden fabrics adorn her figure.
On the day of the event, students rotated through several activities with great excitement; using oil pastels and watercolour paints to capture the grace and energy of ballerinas; making foil sculptures of dancers; decorating fabrics to make our own ‘Little Dancer’ and exploring movement and discipline through ballet.

Many parents, along with the teachers, supported us by assisting with the activities to make sure that they all ran seamlessly…which they did! Tutus and outfits in bleu, blanc and rouge (blue, white and red), the French national colours, adorned the playground.
The students worked in their “Galaxy” groups, a multi-age grouping used within our school. Materials for all activities were set up in each room with explicit instructions and examples provided for the class teachers to use. It was a most successful day with a great deal of excited chatter to follow in the weeks after. The students’ drawings were displayed around the school with mini ballerina sculptures dotted throughout. Our model of The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen puts a smile on everyone’s face as they enter the school.

The images capturing the engagement and enthusiasm of the students are viewed time and time again; we really did ‘step’ into the world of Degas…for a day!

Textiles - The Tutu
dreadlocks and felted balls were made by using wet hands and soap to rub different pink merino wools together into long strands.
Printing: patterns and shapes were drawn onto white photocopy paper using fabric crayons. These were ironed onto polyester satin to transfer the designs.
Sewing: tulle and muslin were decorated with sewn on beads, buttons and sequins. Felt flowers and magiclay petals were sewn on using metallic threads. All 430 pieces of beautifully decorated fabrics were cleverly sewn together to make a tutu.

Drawing - The Ballerina
Students looked at images of the degas ballerinas, taking note of the lines and patterns. With either grey lead pencils or black crayons, the students spent 10 minutes only on the sketch! They used Poster Colour paints to highlight their images.
Sculpture - Little Dancer Aged Fourteen By manipulating armature wire and pipe cleaners, students made a ballerina. Polyballs were used for the head and coloured dispersing paper along with coffee filter bags became the tutu!

The Ballet
The highlight of the morning was the ballet performance by past students from our school who are currently at the Glen Iris School of dance. Their teacher led them through a specially choreographed dance. Our students were thoroughly engaged as they practised various exercises and routines under their instructor’s wonderful guidance. Everyone was spellbound! 

Michele Freeland-Small
Visual Arts Teacher
Glen Iris Primary School

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