Can-can Leeds dancers kick it with the Moulin Rouge?

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THE glamorous and showstopping world of the Moulin Rouge is coming to town - and you could be part of it.

If you look fine in feathers, gorgeous in sequins and can high-kick with the best of them, Wednesday at midday could be your time to shine.

Talent scouts from the world-famous Paris venue, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, are heading to the Yorkshire Dance Centre to search for stars for their amazing extravaganza, Féerie.

The show plays to thousands of people from around the world every year and is so spectacular it even has its own 60-tonne water aquarium. Leeds-born Associate Artistic Director Janet Pharoah will therefore only cast the very best dancers.

“We were last in Leeds more than a decade ago, so it’s about time we found time to come back,” explained Janet, who started dancing when she was just five years old.

“There are some good dance schools in the North and a great work attitude - why should northerners always have to travel to London?” she added.

Hopefuls need good all-round dance training (including ballet and jazz) and must be supple enough to do excellent high-kicks, splits and cartwheels for the can-can.

A good figure, long legs, a very pretty and natural face - plus lots of personality and a dynamic smile - are also essential, while girls need to be at least 5ft 8 tall and boys 6ft 1.

“First rehearsals are all about learning the show and the can-can, which is quite technically different,” explained Janet.

“Then there are all the shoe fittings and costumes to take care of, as well as getting used to being part of a 70-strong dance troupe, plus the excitement of their own opening night,” she added.

Contracts are initially for a year, but many performers end up staying far longer. Some, like Janet, will make it their whole career: “I arrived in 1980 and am still here!” she said.

Travel across Europe and further afield may follow, as dancers are often asked to do special galas worldwide as well as TV shows, interviews and photocalls.

With such a sumptuous, sparkling and razzmatazz lifestyle, does Woodlesford lass Janet ever miss her home town?

“It’s a tricky question, as there’s a lot about France I love, but many girls - particularly those who do leave to go home - dream of taking the Moulin with them.”


Janet Pharoah is Associate Artistic Director of the Moulin Rouge, in Paris. She went to Rothwell Grammar School and trained at Mullen School of Theatre and Dance, in Churwell.

Janet and her team are heading to Australia in July, to continue casting for their famous Féerie spectacular.

Last year they took in Canada and Scandinavia, so the mix of talent is truly international.

The Leeds auditions take place on Wednesday April 16, at 12pm, at the Yorkshire Dance Centre on St Peter’s Square.

The Grand Theatre, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.

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