Release Date: July 18, 2014

Array of Public Programs Celebrating Degas's Little Dancer at the National Gallery of Art

George Balanchine and Tanaquil le Clercq. Film still from Afternooon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq by Nancy Buirski, 2014, to be shown as part of the film series Master Class: Pina and Tanaquil on Thursday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the McGowan Theater, National Archives. Image courtesy Kino Lorber

George Balanchine and Tanaquil le Clercq. Film still from Afternooon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq by Nancy Buirski, 2014, to be shown as part of the film series Master Class: Pina and Tanaquil on Thursday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the McGowan Theater, National Archives. Image courtesy Kino Lorber

Washington, DC—An array of free public programs will be offered in honor of the focus exhibition Degas's Little Dancer, on view in the West Building from October 5, 2014 to February 8, 2015. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the world premiere of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' original musical, Little Dancer. All Gallery programs are presented free of charge in the West Building Lecture Hall, unless otherwise noted. Seating is available on a first-come, first-seated basis. Programs will also be presented at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Additional details are forthcoming.

Public Symposium

Degas and Cassatt: Different Perspectives
Sunday, October 5, 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
West Building Lecture Hall
Illustrated lectures by noted scholars, including Norma Broude, professor emerita of art history, American University; and Nancy Mowll Mathews, Eugénie Prendergast Senior Curator Emerita of 19th and 20th Century Art at Williams College Museum of Art.

Film Series

Master Class: Pina and Tanaquil
Two of the greatest dancers of our age—Pina Bausch (1940–2009) and Tanaquil Le Clercq (1929–2000)—are the focus of this two-part program presented in collaboration with the National Archives and on occasion of the National Gallery of Art exhibition Degas/Cassatt. Screenings take place at the McGowan Theater of the National Archives, 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

Thursday, August 14, 7:00 p.m.
McGowan Theater, National Archives
German director Wim Wenders was in the midst of filming the groundbreaking modernist choreographer Pina Bausch when she died suddenly in 2009. A visionary whose cogent and compelling work with the Tanztheater Wuppertal transformed the history of dance, Bausch believed in blending the formal vocabularies of theater, dance, sound, and design. Although Wenders stopped all work on the film when his subject died, he was able to complete the project two years later. Pina made its debut at the 2011 Berlinale. (Wim Wenders, 2011, 100 minutes)

Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq
Thursday, August 28, 7:00 p.m.
McGowan Theater, National Archives
Introduced by Nancy Buirski
The story of prima ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq is an epic tale of genius, grace, uncertainty, and ultimate tragedy. Arguably the greatest American dancer of the 20th century (and a muse to both Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine), she became a victim of polio in her late 20s. Her life history and the incredible circumstances that led to her shattering fall are recounted in the film through a wealth of archival footage and sources. (Nancy Buirski, 2014, 91 minutes)


National Gallery Orchestra
Sunday, October 12, 6:30 p.m.
The concert will feature French guest conductor Philippe Entremont and French clarinetist Michel Lethiec, playing music by Bizet, Debussy, and Saint-Saëns.

Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington, DC
Sunday, November 23, 3:30 p.m.
West Building, West Garden Court
An encounter with a 19th-century ballet rehearsal


National Gallery of Art
The Radicalism of the "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen"
Sunday, November 16, noon
Jill DeVonyar, independent curator and former ballet dancer, and Richard Kendall, curator at large, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
Inside Look: Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
Sunday, November 23, 2:00 p.m.  
Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture, Daphne Barbour, senior conservator, and Shelley Sturman, head of object conservation, will take visitors inside the extraordinary life of this sculpture, through the story of its creation and its reception in the art world. While Edgar Degas experimented with sculpture throughout his career, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is the only three-dimensional work he ever exhibited. The statuette created a sensation when it went on view in the sixth impressionist exhibition in 1881, both for its subject and for its hypernaturalistic materials.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Degas & His Dancers

Saturday, November 8, noon
Kennedy Center Grand Foyer
Edgar Degas created more than 1,200 works and more than half of these depict dancers. This 45-minute lecture, presented by Kimberly A. Jones, associate curator, department of French paintings at the National Gallery of Art, will delve into Degas's rich body of work on this subject and his lifelong fascination with the art form that inspired him.
The Most Famous Obscure Dancer in the World: Marie van Goethem
Saturday, November 15, noon
Kennedy Center Grand Foyer
Art historian Richard Kendall introduces us to Degas's famous sculpture and dance historian Jill De Vonyar explores what we know about the real "Little Dancer," a story of mystery and obscurity.
The Life of a 19th Century Dancer: Paris Opera Ballet and Les Petits Rats
Saturday, November 22, noon
Kennedy Center Grand Foyer
The lives of the dancers in the Paris Opera Ballet are very different today than they were 120 years ago when Marie van Goethem, Degas's sitter for Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, danced there. From the way they danced to the role of the ballet "benefactors," the story of the musical Little Dancer reveals the seamy side of an art form that has come to be associated with elegance, grace, and genteel femininity. Join dance critic, author, and ballet historian Alexandra Tomalonis for a look at the progression of ballet from then to now.

Gallery Talks

Public tours focusing on the exhibition will be given by the adult programs department of the education division. For additional times and topics, please consult the Gallery Talks section of the Gallery’s website.

General Information

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will remain closed until late fall 2016 for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at, Twitter at, and Instagram at

Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
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