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The iconic Moulin Rouge seeks dancers to enchant

French Cancan. Photo by S. Franzese, courtesy of Moulin Rouge.
French Cancan. Photo by S. Franzese, courtesy of Moulin Rouge.

Established in 1889, the Moulin Rouge has since become one of the world’s most legendary cabarets. This July-August, Australian dancers will have a chance to audition to be a performing artist at the iconic venue.

Dancers at Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of Janet Pharaoh.

Dancers at Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of Janet Pharaoh.

The Moulin Rouge’s show, Féerie, meaning “enchanted”, was created by famous directors Doris Haug and Ruggero Angeletti, and took two years and an investment of eight million Euros to make. The show, with choreography by Bill Goodson, consists of 100 artists, including the 60 Doriss Girls, who are recruited worldwide. Thousands of colorful costumes of feathers, rhinestones, sequins and handmade shoes make up the visually unique production.

“The show is very much based around the dancers, and is fast moving with many different scenes, dance styles and costumes, which are of course spectacular,” Moulin Rouge Associate Artistic Director Janet Pharaoh describes. “The music is, for the most part, original and composed specifically for the show with the exception, of course, of the Cancan, which is a re-arrangement of all the different music that the cancan was danced to when it originated back in the late 1800s.”

Dancers at Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of Janet Pharaoh.

Dancers at Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of Janet Pharaoh.

For its dancers, Moulin Rouge seeks performers who are all around excellent dancers. Female dancers should be tall (minimum 1m72, preferably 1m78) and have a lot of personality. Male dancers need to be strong and also be able to do high kicks and splits, with an athletic, masculine build.

While dancers should be well-rounded and versatile, Pharaoh says that learning to dance a real cancan will be a new experience for most. “It’s fast and furious, and will take up most of the three- to four-week rehearsal period,” she adds. “The dancing in the other numbers will be more recognizable from a dancer’s training, although perhaps not the wearing of the elaborate costumes. Each dancer can expect to be provided with up to nine different pairs of shoes or boots for the show, all handmade to match the costumes.”

Janet Pharaoh at an award ceremony with Australian dancers Lesleigh Burrell and Molly McLaren. Photo courtesy of Moulin Rouge.

Janet Pharaoh at an award ceremony with Australian dancers Lesleigh Burrell and Molly McLaren. Photo courtesy of Moulin Rouge.

Auditions will be held in Perth (11 July), Brisbane (15 July), Sydney (23 July and 8 August), New Zealand (29 July) and Melbourne (10 August). Pharaoh says she likes to keep auditions enjoyable for dancers and hopes that it can be a learning experience for all. That said, dancers should go in to a Moulin Rouge audition ready to look and dance the part.

“Attract my attention straight away for the right reasons – by standing tall, wearing simple but elegant dancewear, fishnets and heels, light makeup, no dark lipstick,” Pharaoh says. “I like our dancers to have a natural, fresh, elegant, sporty look. Dancers should make sure their kicks are up to scratch, which means up to the shoulder and fast, not only on the going up but the coming down as well. The cancan is a very important part of the show, and all dancers must perform it, so make sure that as well as fast high kicks, that your cartwheels, left and right, are good. If it’s awhile since you went to ballet class, go now! There will be a classical section. Dancers should be ready to perform in the audition and not be worrying about their dance technique. Do that before the audition; make sure you are physically prepared.”

Dancers at Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of Janet Pharaoh.

Dancers at Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of Janet Pharaoh.

In addition, she advises auditionees to smile, and not to stress or feel nervous or afraid.

Dancing at the Moulin Rouge can be an incredibly rewarding career move, as it provides dancers with a steady job and an opportunity to perform in such a historic venue.

“It is very rare to belong to a permanent dance company that isn’t just classically ballet-based, and especially one where you get to perform all the time, which means the pay is steady, and there are many other advantages like paid holidays,” Pharaoh explains. “There is also the opportunity to experience other aspects outside the normal day-to-day show — special studio TV performances, galas abroad, fashion photo shoots, interviews, as well as a chance for those with the right talent to be promoted to soloist or principal dancer.”

For a full list of audition dates and locations, and information on how to pre-register, head to www.moulinrouge.fr/the/auditions-danseurs?lang=en.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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