This pose, seated but dance-like, first appears in Degas's oeuvre around 1894 (cf. Lemoisne, no. 1158). In it the artist creates a successful variant of a position in which the dancer, seated on a bench, raises one leg to rest on top of the bench. The present work is one of a series of four drawn 1897-1900 (Lemoisne, nos. 1299, 1300bis and 1301) and two later pastels (one a counterproof of the other; Lemoisne, nos. 1302 and 1303). In a similar pose the dancer is seen looking in the opposite direction (Lemoisne, nos. 1222 and 1293bis), although this arrangement appears to work less successfully, lacking the spring-like contraposto of the present work.
Degas's continuous development of figure positions, whether in his dancer or bather series, reflects an approach that is on one level experimental, wherein he is working through a series of possible solutions towards the most successful and useful pose. Once the idea reached fruition, the pose itself would become one of many building blocks utilized in the creation of larger and more complex figural schemes. There is a another dimension as well, one which is related to trends elsewhere is the arts in the late 19th century. Monet painted his poplars, haystacks, and cathedral facades in series, varying their appearance according to weather and seasonal conditions, and time-of-day. In music Johannes Brahms had made the variation principle the very essence of his art in his symphonies and chamber music, just as Richard Wagner's music dramas were founded upon the continuous evolution of his musical themes or leitmotifs. For Degas and these artists an open method of ongoing metamorphosis had become central to the creative process, not merely a means to an end, but as an integral form of expression in itself.