I Could Have Danced All Night!

Artists take cues from the surrounding world when creating their own works of art.  Inspiration can come from any number of subjects including fashion, popular culture, and poetry.  The DMA is currently playing host to an exhibition titled, Chagall: Beyond Color, which features the artist’s paintings alongside his works in sculpture, ceramics, and collage. The DMA is the only US venue for this exhibition, so you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Marc Chagall never aligned himself with any single movement, but combined elements from various styles including Cubism, Fauvism, Symbolism, and Surrealism.  He also drew inspiration from his Jewish background, Russian upbringing, and many international travels.  While Chagall is most famous for his paintings, he also experimented with other media and venues.  For example, he designed and produced costumes and scenery for the production of the ballet Aleko, choreographed by Léonide Massine and set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor.

Marc Chagall, A Wheatfield on a Summer's Afternoon, Study for backdrop for Scene III of the ballet Aleko, 1942, Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest

Marc Chagall, A Wheatfield on a Summer’s Afternoon, Study for backdrop for Scene III of the ballet Aleko, 1942, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest

Three years after the immense success of Aleko, Chagall worked on the stage curtain, sets, and costumes for Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.  The ballet, based on a Russian folktale, was restaged by the American Ballet Theater with choreography by Adolphe Bolm.

Marc Chagall, Model for the curtain in the first act of "The Firebird" by Stravinsky: The Enchanted Forest (Maquette pour le rideau de scène du 1er acte de "L'Oiseau de feau" de Stravisky: La forêt enchantée), 1945, Private collection, Paris

Marc Chagall, Model for the curtain in the first act of “The Firebird” by Stravinsky: The Enchanted Forest (Maquette pour le rideau de scène du 1er acte de “L’Oiseau de feau” de Stravisky: La forêt enchantée), 1945, Private collection

Marc Chagall is not the only artist to have been inspired by the passionate art form of dance.  As a strong cultural element, dance can be found represented in a variety styles throughout history and across geography.  Below are some examples of works in the DMA collection that also draw inspiration from various forms of dance.

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

2 Responses to “I Could Have Danced All Night!”


  1. 1 Corey March 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I enjoyed the selection and placement of the art to illustrate your thesis. Good job!


  1. 1 Some historical snippets of BN – Part 16 – Dance costume | Bharathanatyam and the worldwide web Trackback on November 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm
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