At the ballet, in the wings and classrooms of the magnificent Palais Garnier, Edgar Degas found a world that excited both his taste for classical beauty and his eye for modern realism. Though he didn聮t paint many stage performances, his interest lay behind the scenes as he recorded the hidden side of the glitz and glamour, in which some of the city聮s poorest girls pushed themselves to be the best dancers they could be on stage.
Impressionists painted the realities of the world around them using bright, "dazzling" colors, concentrating primarily on the effects of light, and hoping to infuse their scenes with immediacy. They wanted to express their visual experience in that exact moment. Despite the fact that his work fit in with Impressionist ideals, Degas rejected the label of 聭Impressionist,聮 not aligning with his contemporaries who primarily studies landscapes and painted plein air. Striving to capture human movement in his art, Degas himself explained, "no art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing." Nonetheless, he is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement. His scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists all relate him intimately to the Impressionist movement. His signature off kilter compositions are reminiscent of photography, a technology that was gaining popularity at the time and changing the way people thought of art in a major way.