Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
This absorbing, heartfelt work uncovers the story of the real dancer behind Degas's now-iconic sculpture, and the struggles of late 19th-century Parisian life. She is famous throughout the world, but how many know her name? You can admire her figure in Washington, Paris, London, New York, Dresden, or Copenhagen, but where is her grave? We know only her age, 14, and the work that she did - because it was already gruelling work, at an age when children today are sent to school. In the 1880s, she danced as a 'little rat' at the Paris Opera, and what is often a dream for young girls now wasn't a dream for her. She was fired after several years of intense labour; the director had had enough of her repeated absences. She had been working another job, even two, because the few pennies the Opera paid weren't enough to keep her and her family fed.