Grades/Level: High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts, Dance
Time Required: 3–5–Part Lesson
Three 50-minute class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Performing Arts in Art

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Glossary (RTF, 255KB)
Print and Web Resources (RTF, 247KB)
National and California State Standards (PDF, 826KB)

Lesson Overview

Students will examine three works of art to learn about the daily lives of working ballet dancers in Paris in the 19th century. Students will conduct additional research to learn about the cultural context at the time these dancers worked, including how ballet dancers were perceived. Finally, students will create a backstage view of a contemporary dancer.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• research and describe how culture and a particular time period influence artists in three works of art depicting dancers.
• understand how visual artists are inspired by dance and can share experiences with sketchbook pages and drawings.
• identify and use the elements of art to discuss and analyze works of art, including their own.
• create an original pastel drawing of a contemporary dancer.


• Reproductions of Ballet Dancers Rehearsing (pages 25 and 23) from An Album of Pencil Sketches by Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas
• Reproduction of Waiting by Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about the drawings and pastel
• Internet access
• Dark-colored 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper
• Pastels or colored chalk
• Information and activities in the "Understanding Formal Analysis" on the Getty website (optional)
• Student Handout: "Backstage View of a Contemporary Dancer"
• Magazines

Lesson Steps

Download the complete lesson by clicking on the "Download this lesson" icon above.

Glossary Terms:
Words in bold on these pages and in the lesson are defined in the glossary for this curriculum (see "Performing Arts in Art Contents" links above).

Waiting / Degas
Waiting, Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas, about 1882, owned jointly with the Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades 9–12

Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grades 9–12 (Proficient)

1.0 Artistic Perception
1.1 Identify and use the principles of design to discuss, analyze, and write about visual aspects in the environment and in works of art, including their own.

Grades 9–12 (Advanced)
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.6 Describe the use of the elements of art to express mood in one or more of their works of art.

2.0 Creative Expression
2.1 Create original works of art of increasing complexity and skill in a variety of media that reflect their feelings and points of view.
2.4 Demonstrate in their own works of art a personal style and an advanced proficiency in communicating an idea, theme, or emotion.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Describe the relationship involving the art maker (artist), the making (process), the artwork (product), and the viewer.

Dance Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grades 9–12 (Proficient)

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Describe ways in which folk/traditional, social, and theatrical dances reflect their specific cultural context.