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Daily Mail

BETH HALE asks why so most of the Moulin Rouge’s high-kicking refrain are proud northerners


Layers of ruffled petticoats flash in a whirl of crimson, white and blue; legs rocket skywards, whereas dancers twist, cartwheel and kick, kick, kick!

Because the acquainted tones of Offenbach’s music take flight so, too, do the performers, shrieking as they leap into the air, all with deceptively limber, long-legged ease.

The Eiffel Tower could also be Paris’s best-known landmark, however ooh la la, is something extra quintessentially French than the can-can, carried out by the dancers of the Moulin Rouge?

But stroll backstage at this Parisian establishment and you may be forgiven for considering you’d landed someplace between the Dales and the Pennines.

‘It is the Yorkshire mafia,’ jokes Fanny Rabasse, the (French) press relations supervisor standing within the engine room of the present, the wardrobe space the place costumes costing tens of millions (a single can-can costume prices greater than £4,000) grasp, and backstage chatter segues seamlessly from English to French, and again once more.

Layers of ruffled petticoats flash in a whirl of crimson, white and blue; legs rocket skywards, whereas dancers twist, cartwheel and kick, kick, kick!

British Dancers outside the Moulin Rouge. Left to right: Amy Gill - Michaela Rondelli - Lucy Monaghan - Jemilla Durham - Katie Hayward - Georgia Dewstow-Smith - Jessica Till - Rye Carpenter - Olivia James-Baird - Katie Malone - Jessica Toone

British Dancers exterior the Moulin Rouge. Left to proper: Amy Gill – Michaela Rondelli – Lucy Monaghan – Jemilla Durham – Katie Hayward – Georgia Dewstow-Smith – Jessica Until – Rye Carpenter – Olivia James-Baird – Katie Malone – Jessica Toone

In total, there are 26 British dancers among the 80-strong company, an international contingent matched only by Australians

In complete, there are 26 British dancers among the many 80-strong firm, a world contingent matched solely by Australians

Three of the British dancers behind-the-scenes. Left to right: Jemilla Durham Center Lucy Monaghan Right Jessica Toone

Three of the British dancers behind-the-scenes. Left to proper: Jemilla Durham Heart Lucy Monaghan Proper Jessica Toone

Caroline Renno-Raynal is a proud Geordie who landed here from South Shields 16 years ago and hasn't looked back

Caroline Renno-Raynal is a proud Geordie who landed right here from South Shields 16 years in the past and hasn’t seemed again 

The present’s long-standing inventive director, Janet Pharaoh, is from Rothwell, close to Leeds, present supervisor Amanda is from Halifax, whereas her assistant, Jo, can also be from Yorkshire.

It isn’t simply Yorkshire that’s represented right here, beneath the crimson windmill of the world’s best-known cabaret: there’s additionally Wrexham, Southampton and Glasgow. In the meantime, principal dancer Caroline Renno-Raynal is a proud Geordie who landed right here from South Shields 16 years in the past and hasn’t seemed again.

In complete, there are 26 British dancers among the many 80-strong firm, a world contingent matched solely by Australians — however add within the British professionals drilling the dancers of their fastidiously choreographed, scantily clad routines and this most Gallic of establishments begins to really feel reasonably Anglophile.

‘As soon as they’re right here, they’re all Moulin nationality,’ insists Janet, who was a dancer right here herself earlier than turning into inventive director 20 years in the past.

Janet Pharaoh (pictured here with the dancers) the Artistic Director is from Rothwell, near Leeds. Pictured front, left to right: Carole Renno- Raynal - Janet Pharaoh, Michaela - Katie Malone - Jessica Toone - Olivia - Jessica Till - Katie Hayward Back from left Amy Gill - Rye - Jemilla - Georgia

Janet Pharaoh (pictured right here with the dancers) the Creative Director is from Rothwell, close to Leeds. Pictured entrance, left to proper: Carole Renno- Raynal – Janet Pharaoh, Michaela – Katie Malone – Jessica Toone – Olivia – Jessica Until – Katie Hayward Again from left Amy Gill – Rye – Jemilla – Georgia

Left to right: Amy Gill , Michaela Rondelli, Georgia Dewstow-Smith, Lucy Monaghan , Jemilia Durham and Rye Carpenter

Left to proper: Amy Gill , Michaela Rondelli, Georgia Dewstow-Smith, Lucy Monaghan , Jemilia Durham and Rye Carpenter

For those who do dare to bare, sometimes there's little more than a thong and a sprinkling of gems. In our achingly politically correct age, this could be perceived as demeaning, but Caroline and her peers insist there isn't anything lewd about the performance

For individuals who do dare to reveal, typically there’s little greater than a thong and a sprinkling of gems. In our achingly politically right age, this might be perceived as demeaning, however Caroline and her friends insist there is not something lewd concerning the efficiency

If true, Moulin’s inhabitants has Amazonian proportions. Among the dancers who stride round this backstage labyrinth high 7ft once they’re resplendent of their heels and feathered headwear.

‘My good dancer is 175-178cm tall — 5ft 10in, with nice, lengthy legs, so while you do your kicks they arrive means above your head,’ says Janet, who has spent 40 of her 63 years right here in Paris.

‘Then it comes all the way down to character, smile and charisma.’

Tall and slender (naturellement), with a booming voice — and an accent certainly as broad as when she first left Yorkshire for France 4 days after her A-levels — Janet retains a good ship, whether or not talking English, French or Franglais.

‘It’s a must to have a certain quantity of self-discipline,’ she insists. ‘Self-discipline is an integral a part of dancing. If myself and my assistants have very loud voices, it is as a result of while you get 70-odd dancers in a normal rehearsal it’s a must to shout.’

On stage, it is an completely French affair. The lights decrease, the music begins and the dancers sashay on to stage, lip-syncing with perfection to the French backing monitor.

The dancers in action. On stage, it's an utterly French affair. The lights lower, the music starts and the dancers sashay on to stage, lip-syncing with perfection to the French backing track

The dancers in motion. On stage, it is an completely French affair. The lights decrease, the music begins and the dancers sashay on to stage, lip-syncing with perfection to the French backing monitor

Katie Malone, 21, was the first Welsh dancer to join the company, auditioning in Paris in April and getting an invitation to join only an hour after executing her last cartwheel

Katie Malone, 21, was the primary Welsh dancer to hitch the corporate, auditioning in Paris in April and getting an invite to hitch solely an hour after executing her final cartwheel

As the familiar tones of Offenbach's music take flight so, too, do the performers, shrieking as they leap into the air, all with deceptively limber, long-legged ease

Because the acquainted tones of Offenbach’s music take flight so, too, do the performers, shrieking as they leap into the air, all with deceptively limber, long-legged ease

Left to right Show Supervisor Amanda, who is from Halifax. She speaks to dancers Jennifer Keegan, 27, from Durham and Erin Blanchfield, 22, from Wallasey

Left to proper Present Supervisor Amanda, who is from Halifax. She speaks to dancers Jennifer Keegan, 27, from Durham and Erin Blanchfield, 22, from Wallasey

However behind the scenes it is like strolling right into a pupil bar in any bustling British metropolis — northern accents, southern accents, Scottish, Irish, all mix in riotous concord; even the French dancers (all eight of them) discover themselves chatting in English.

Why is there such little home-grown expertise? It is all to do with the size of the French faculty day; when kids end faculty it is already 5.30pm, says Janet. When’s the time for dance faculty?

Fanny, whose personal love of British life extends to being one thing of an skilled on the Royal Household, insists that wherever the ladies come from, ‘once they go on stage they’re representing France’.

This can be true, however some dancers converse barely a phrase of French once they get right here.

Geordie Caroline Renno-Raynal, 41 next month, is pretty much fluent in French after 16 years here, although 'not like my husband, who is bilingual,' says the dancer, who is married to Olivier, a French-American actor

Geordie Caroline Renno-Raynal, 41 subsequent month, is just about fluent in French after 16 years right here, though ‘not like my husband, who’s bilingual,’ says the dancer, who’s married to Olivier, a French-American actor

Front: Katie Hayward, Back: Georgia Dewstow-Smith. The dancers get ready to go on stage. In one of their dressing rooms is a picture of the late Queen stuck to the wall

Entrance: Katie Hayward, Again: Georgia Dewstow-Smith. The dancers get able to go on stage. In one among their dressing rooms is an image of the late Queen caught to the wall

Language classes are supplied, as is assist in organising financial institution accounts (pay begins at 3,500 euros, a month) and getting an all-important social safety quantity.

Katie Malone, 21, was the primary Welsh dancer to hitch the corporate, auditioning in Paris in April and getting an invite to hitch solely an hour after executing her final cartwheel. That is some leap from dancing at Butlins, Minehead, through a stint serving in a pub close to her household residence in Wrexham.

‘It’s totally completely different from my life in Wrexham,’ she says, with some understatement. Whereas she’s been having fun with French pastries and exploring Paris on the Metro, others like a style of residence, slugging again cups of robust British tea backstage.

‘When a dancer goes residence, they at all times convey again British meals, Dairy Milk chocolate and different stuff that we won’t discover in France since Marks & Spencer closed,’ says Fanny.

At the Moulin Rouge, it seems the more senior you are, the more flesh you're likely to have on show. Dancers start on the 'can-can line', and only once they've mastered that are they allowed to graduate to the 'topless line'

On the Moulin Rouge, it appears the extra senior you’re, the extra flesh you are more likely to have on present. Dancers begin on the ‘can-can line’, and solely as soon as they’ve mastered which are they allowed to graduate to the ‘topless line’

Left to right: Katie Malone - Katie Hayward - William Jaggs- Olivia - Amy - Michaela - Georgia - Lucy - Jemilla - Rye - Harry Lydon - Jessia Till - Jessica Toone

Left to proper: Katie Malone – Katie Hayward – William Jaggs- Olivia – Amy – Michaela – Georgia – Lucy – Jemilla – Rye – Harry Lydon – Jessia Until – Jessica Toone

Caroline Renno-Raynal. As principal, the 5ft 9in dancer's face — and body — are front and centre of the show six nights a week

Caroline Renno-Raynal. As principal, the 5ft 9in dancer’s face — and physique — are entrance and centre of the present six nights every week

Georgia Dewstow-Smith. Stroll backstage at this Parisian institution and you could be forgiven for thinking you'd landed somewhere between the Dales and the Pennines

Georgia Dewstow-Smith. Stroll backstage at this Parisian establishment and you may be forgiven for considering you’d landed someplace between the Dales and the Pennines

There are different nods to the house nation, too. An image of the late Queen is caught to the wall in one of many dressing rooms.

Geordie Caroline Renno-Raynal, 41 subsequent month, is just about fluent in French after 16 years right here, though ‘not like my husband, who’s bilingual,’ says the dancer, who’s married to Olivier, a French-American actor.

Her sensible northern roots are nonetheless there, although. She has an electrical blanket rigged up in her dressing room (it is a perk of her seniority since she turned principal eight years in the past; extra junior members of the corporate must share) to push back the coolness when she’s between numbers. And he or she wants it. As principal, the 5ft 9in dancer’s face — and physique — are entrance and centre of the present six nights every week. And he or she’s very uncovered.

On the Moulin Rouge, it appears the extra senior you’re, the extra flesh you are more likely to have on present. Dancers begin on the ‘can-can line’, and solely as soon as they’ve mastered which are they allowed to graduate to the ‘topless line’. (It isn’t obligatory and for the larger-chested, it is not allowed).

Pictured left is dancer Jessica Moore. Right, Lauren Turner. Some of the dancers top 7ft when they're resplendent in their heels and feathered headwear

Pictured left is dancer Jessica Moore. Proper, Lauren Turner. Among the dancers high 7ft once they’re resplendent of their heels and feathered headwear

Leaping into action: Left Sébastien Golenko (french) Right Olivia James-Baird

Leaping into motion: Left Sébastien Golenko (french) Proper Olivia James-Baird

For individuals who do dare to reveal, typically there’s little greater than a thong and a sprinkling of gems.

In our achingly politically right age, this might be perceived as demeaning, however Caroline and her friends insist there is not something lewd concerning the efficiency.

‘It is unusual, I can bear in mind saying I might by no means do it [go topless]. Then I mentioned if I used to be going to do it, I might do it on the Moulin Rouge,’ Caroline says. ‘By the point I did, it was simply so pure — it is identical to a part of the costume. It’s all very tasteful.’

Certainly, Janet Pharaoh says her dancers are so modest, they will not even go topless on vacation, which has its pitfalls.

‘They find yourself with bikini marks and that won’t do,’ she laughs.

Pictured from left: Michaela Rondelli - Olivia James-Baird - Katie Malone - Amy Gill - Jemilla Durham

Pictured from left: Michaela Rondelli – Olivia James-Baird – Katie Malone – Amy Gill – Jemilla Durham

Left: Olivia James-Baird, Right: Georgia Dewstow. In October, some 300 dancers —female and male — queued for the chance to be put through their paces in Leeds and London

Left: Olivia James-Baird, Proper: Georgia Dewstow. In October, some 300 dancers —feminine and male — queued for the prospect to be put by way of their paces in Leeds and London

Maybe reflecting extra relaxed French attitudes to nudity, the cabaret is billed as a household present.

Caroline would definitely agree — she’s already launched her three-year-old son, Dylan, to it.

Like most of her friends, her journey to the Moulin Rouge started through childhood dance classes.

She turned down a spot on the Royal Ballet Faculty when she was ten — ‘I used to be too younger to depart residence’ — and a progress spurt in her teenagers strengthened the concept ballet wasn’t for her. ‘I feel I at all times knew [her calling],’ she laughs. ‘I used to be very shy once I was rising up and I can bear in mind my dance lecturers saying: ‘It is loopy the way you go on stage and turn out to be a unique particular person.’ Even now once I go on stage I am not me.’

She’s accomplished two stints on the Moulin Rouge, the primary a six-month keep contemporary from Blackpool, the second a 12 months or so later. ‘I believed it could be for an additional six months, however then I met Olivier,’ she says.

I ponder how arduous it’s to take care of a svelte body? Moulin Rouge dancers are gently reminded to watch out if their weight nudges up by various kilos, however none of them is waif-like and all these kicks guarantee slender thighs that are like pure metal.

Writer Beth Hale behind-the-scenes of the iconic Moulin Rouge.

Author Beth Hale behind-the-scenes of the long-lasting Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge dancers are gently reminded to be careful if their weight nudges up by more than a few pounds, but none of them is waif-like and all those kicks ensure slender thighs which are like pure steel

Moulin Rouge dancers are gently reminded to watch out if their weight nudges up by various kilos, however none of them is waif-like and all these kicks guarantee slender thighs that are like pure metal

Lest the sequins idiot you, in September Caroline was again within the UK to do the Nice North Run and she or he knocks out half marathons for enjoyable. No surprise she’s assured she has a number of extra years left in her earlier than retirement.

Stricter is the requirement to take care of the identical shade and size of hair. Dancers rattle by way of ten to 12 costumes per present, in order that they put on wigs and hairpieces made out of actual hair to facilitate the fast modifications. Which means altering hair color is usually a pricey headache.

And the girl whose approval all of them search is the inventive director, Janet. Getting it’s virtually as a lot of an accolade as an invite to advance between the dance strains.

In October, some 300 dancers —feminine and male — queued for the prospect to be put by way of their paces in Leeds and London and maybe win a coveted invitation to hitch her very well-drilled group.

4 dancers have been profitable, and two of the newest recruits are being put by way of the paces of the can-can, in petticoats, for the primary time when the Mail arrives on the cabaret.

They’re Erin Blanchfield, 22, from Wallasey, and Jennifer Keegan, 27, from Durham.

Dancers have to learn to whip off silver, sequinned trousers while dancing and 'pop' the red-feathered folds of the costume the dancers dub 'tomatoes'

Dancers must study to whip off silver, sequinned trousers whereas dancing and ‘pop’ the red-feathered folds of the costume the dancers dub ‘tomatoes’

This name doesn't do justice to what is one of the most glamorous moments in the show as fronds of red feathers unfurl from around the girls' faces and become flamboyant skirts

This title does not do justice to what is without doubt one of the most glamorous moments within the present as fronds of crimson feathers unfurl from across the ladies’ faces and turn out to be flamboyant skirts

They’re being drilled in every part from dance steps to costume administration. They must study to whip off silver, sequinned trousers whereas dancing and ‘pop’ the red-feathered folds of the costume the dancers dub ‘tomatoes’.

This title does not do justice to what is without doubt one of the most glamorous moments within the present as fronds of crimson feathers unfurl from across the ladies’ faces and turn out to be flamboyant skirts. And it’s studying the can-can itself that’s the most gruelling.

‘It is fiendishly horrible,’ says Janet. ‘It is the exact opposite of ballet. It comes from a type of avenue dance; you may’t simply throw your self into it otherwise you would injure your self. It’s a must to kick the leg up excessive, with music that is very quick. It is all about pace and stamina.’

No surprise Erin and Jennifer are rubbing their toes as we speak. They’re doing two hours of can-can coaching a day, six days every week, in readiness for his or her first present on Monday.

Georgia Dewstow-Smith laughs backstage as the dancer wears a glamorous gold bejeweled outfit and headdress to perform

Georgia Dewstow-Smith laughs backstage because the dancer wears a glamorous gold bejeweled outfit and headdress to carry out

Michaela Rondelli and Olivia James-Baird tuching up their makeup before they go on stage in their red, white and blue sequined dresses

Michaela Rondelli and Olivia James-Baird tuching up their make-up earlier than they go on stage of their crimson, white and blue sequined clothes

Amy Gill, Lucy Monaghan and Michaela Rondelli wearing clown-style white sheer outfits and silver heels for their dance

Amy Gill, Lucy Monaghan and Michaela Rondelli sporting clown-style white sheer outfits and silver heels for his or her dance

Sitting on the sting of the stage, having gone by way of a very gruelling can-can drill (cartwheel after cartwheel across the fringe of the stage in a fancy dress weighing 5kg), they’re surprisingly good-humoured.

Strolling round like some type of unique chicken with a towering headdress or back-pack is tough sufficient; attempt ‘doing it with 60 different folks on stage, strolling down steps with a smile in your face,’ says Jen.

A glass of wine (crimson, after all) on the finish of the day, ice packs and weekly physio have already turn out to be routine.

Rehearsals will turn out to be marginally much less arduous as soon as the primary present is over. However, till then, Janet, Amanda — who’s in her 50s however is at the moment doing reasonably intimidating handstands within the nook — and their group are on the case.

However it’s all very thrilling, if ‘not fairly actual’. But.

What are they trying ahead to most? ‘Once we pop our feathers and the viewers oohs,’ says Jen.

And with {that a} Yorkshire accent interrupts. Amanda is ready.

It is time to go. There is a present to prepare for.

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