Tiny dancer

For years, I’ve been reading a book to 7-Year Old Daughter about Edgar Degas and his dancer sculpture. In the book, the model is a poor girl who can’t afford ballet lessons and never learns to dance, but in the end she is immortalized by Degas. I’m pretty sure it’s fiction and doesn’t have anything to do with Degas or the girl who actually posed for him, but I could be wrong.

I told daughter that one of the dancer sculptures was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, complete with the ribbon in her hair and dancing skirt and that one day I would take her into the city to visit it. Finally, I decided to take a day off of work, leave Mrs. Wife and 3-Year Old Daughter in New Jersey and fulfill a promise.

I’ve been in that Museum dozens of times over the years and know my way around pretty well, so I took the most direct path to 19th Century European Painting and Sculpture. Little legs exhaust easily and I didn’t want her running out of gas too soon.

I turned the corner where I *thought* the statue was but she wasn’t there. Then, from behind me, I heard Daughter gasp and say, “Dad! Look! There she is!”

And there she was.


Daughter’s face was glowing. It’s as though she spotted a celebrity. Here, in front of her, was the girl we had been reading about for years and years.

We spent quite a bit of time in the Degas rooms. The funny thing about Degas is that he didn’t paint dancers performing. He painted them stretching or in class or getting dressed or talking amongst themselves. But not dancing. It was scandalous at the time.


After Degas, we looked in on some of the other Impressionists. That stuff is pretty easy to take and I don’t want her to work too hard yet. Baby steps. First, van Gogh’s Irises. Later on, Picasso’s blue period.

I could see that tedium was setting in so we started towards the exit. But before we left that wing, she turned to me, looked up and said, “Dad, can we go look at her one more time?”

Everything is going according to plan. Muuhahahaha!

15 thoughts on “Tiny dancer

  1. Good for you! Leave when they are still wanting more, before museum fatigue sets in. We make that mistake all too often, because we think we may not get to come back. (i know, sounds so sad). But lucky you – you can take Daughter back anytime to visit the Dancer!

  2. Lori: Museums have the knack for sucking the energy right out of you. I always need a nap after. Small doses is the way to go.Nurse: …but even the best laid plans, etc.AFM: Thx. Are you checking blogs from the maternity ward?

  3. I did the same thing with my 10-year old and Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” She grew up with the Baby Mozart series and one of her favorite pictures was of that painting. When it came to NY last summer I took her to the exhibit at MoMA. You’re right- it was like seeing a celebrity, or an old friend. She still talks about that trip even though she’s been to the city countless times.Keep up the good parenting!

  4. Now you have to take her to see the rest of the dancers at Musee D’Orsay in Paris. Their impressionist collection is breathtaking. Then wander over to the Orangerie to see the HUGE Monet water lillies.

  5. Mam: See that? Hit ’em with that stuff early and it’ll never go away. I hope.Jimmy: Thanks so much. Do you know that I was never suppose to be a father? Didn’t want it! Now look at me.HIF: I give her short jabs here in New York and when she’s older I’ll deliver the haymaker in Paris.

  6. Made me want to grab my dad and visit an art museum and look at paintings and sculptures and ruminate on their meaning.Or maybe Ill just take him to a football game, share a beer helmet and scream at all the yankee no good wussies on the field.Yeah… 😉

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