Can-can you join the Moulin Rouge? Recruiters search Australia for the next cabaret stars


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August 11, 2018 08:00:32

Are you at least 1.78 metres tall and able to kick your leg behind your head while smiling?

That’s the tall order recruiters from the Moulin Rouge have been demanding of dancers across Australia this month.

In Sydney, 98 long-legged performers crammed themselves into a studio with the hope of scoring a job at the world’s most famous cabaret show.

Moulin Rouge associate artistic director Janet Pharaoh said while the selection process was tough, dancing was the most important skill.

“[We’re looking for] the best dancers we can find in the world — no nationality is barred,” she said.

“But it’s very difficult because we’re also looking for ladies and gentlemen that are tall … and have an excellent figure.”

Ms Pharaoh said she had travelled to Australia every two years for the past 20 years in the search for recruits.

“We don’t want skinny bony, but you have to look good in a bikini, and maybe because you have that beach culture here there is an attention to that detail.”

While the technical skill can also be worked on, Ms Pharaoh said the height requirement was non-negotiable.

“My perfect height for the men on stage is 1.87, 1.88 metres — that’s 6’2″, 6’3”.

“The girls I prefer 1.78 metres, which is 5’9″, 5’10”, and I have quite a few girls that are hitting the six-foot.

“It’s a very tall order.”

Dreaming of Paris

Of the dancers who auditioned in Sydney this week, it’s just two who will live out their Parisian dream, if that.

During the audition Ms Pharaoh tapped dancers on the shoulder and instructed them to give their names to the selectors.

While it wasn’t yet a ticket to France, many celebrated the acknowledgment.

“This is what I dream of doing and hopefully getting into a place one day, so it’s exciting getting tapped,” 18-year-old Claire Aubery said.

Lauren Simpson, 21, also received the tap and said she hoped it meant good news.

“It’s pretty exciting. I got to this point last year and it’s just such a relief to know I might be what they’re looking for.”

Mr Pharaoh said Australia was renowned as a good location to recruit dancers because of the strong local dance scene and its beach culture.

“Here in Australia there’s a lot of dance schools, which is brilliant, and a lot of good local dance schools, not just the national schools, so there’s a huge pool of talent.

“But finding that rare person that is exceptional.

“If you’re bringing somebody all the way to Paris, there’s quite a lot of investment in that — making the costumes for them, all the shoes are handmade to fit the person, so you’re looking for somebody that’s going to improve, has the potential to maybe be principal or have soloist roles.”

If selected, Ms Pharaoh said the dancers would be set up with a studio apartment in Paris during the rehearsal period.

After that they must navigate the French rental scene on their own, which can be a big shock.

“They have to find their own apartment and learn to pay their electric bills in French.

“There are some girls who save their money and even buy apartments in Paris.

“Then there are the others who have a wardrobe full of designer shoes.”

The essence of cabaret

And while the 130-year-old show must move with the times to keep the audience entertained, Ms Pharaoh said the attraction rested in the enduring familiarity of the show.

“You have to move with the times — different music, different costumes, different people, different acts,” she said.

“At the same time, the essence is still there, and I think that remains the same as it always has done for almost 130 years.”

Topics:

dance,

arts-and-entertainment,

performance-art,

opera-and-musical-theatre,

people,

human-interest,

sydney-2000



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