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Misty Copeland Recreates Edgar Degas’ Dancers for Harper’s Bazaar

Styled by Michelle Jank and photographed by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory, Misty Copeland recreated some of Edgar Degas’ ballet paintings, just as a new exhibit titled “Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty” prepares to open at the Museum of Modern Art. Copeland says posing for the photos was challenging:

It was interesting to be on a shoot and to not have the freedom to just create like I normally do with my body. Trying to re-create what Degas did was really difficult. It was amazing just to notice all of the small details but also how he still allows you to feel like there’s movement. That’s what I think is so beautiful and difficult about dance too. You’re trying to strive for this perfection, but you still want people to get that illusion that your line never ends and that you never stop moving.

Studio Museum director Thelma Golden points out the similarities between Degas’ ballerinas and Copeland, as both “knocked aside a long-standing music-box stereotype of the ballerina.” Degas is a great choice, not only because his ballet images are so iconic but also because his portrayals of women were radical–though not without nuance and debate. In “Degas’ ‘Misogyny,‘” Norma Broude calls his works “uncompromisingly contemporary images of women–seen at their toilette or at their work in theatres, laundries, millinery shops, or brothels—stripped away idealized conventions, therby challenging some of the most cherished myths of his society.”

Check out the whole interview and the rest of the photos at Harper’s Bazaar. What do you think of the photo series?

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