I recently caught up with Laura Watchorn, a 22 year old Australian currently understudy to the principal – Moulin Rouge Paris.
How did your present job come about?
My dancing teachers and my Mum encouraged me to audition for the Moulin. A student from my dance school was already working there, so I`d heard a lot about the show and the life of a dancer in Paris.
The audition was held in Sydney in late 2006 and 150 girls auditioned. The audition was long! We did lots of different dance combinations, corner work with kicking, `showgirl` walks around the room, cartwheels and splits and we also has to meet the height requirements (175cm minimum for girls). At the end of the day, there were about 20 of us left and we were told to wait for an email. I was offered a contract in early 2007, to start in April. I initially signed a 6 month contract and since then I`ve been lucky enough to stay, and keep renewing my contract.
Tell us about the rehearsal process?
I started rehearsals the day after I arrived in Paris. We rehearsed 6 days a week, 5 hours a day and they were held at the Moulin (either on stage or in the rehearsal studio).
We began with the can can technique and slowly started to piece all the other routines together. After 2 weeks, we start to “clean” the show and what we`ve already learned, and the current cast start joining in to set each number on stage. All up, rehearsals take about 3.5 weeks. At the end, a general rehearsal is held with the whole cast.
Rehearsals are difficult, we had to pick up a certain “style” that is required at the Moulin and try and perfect the can can technique and build up our stamina.

How do you arrange accommodation when moving to the other side of the world?

For the duration of rehearsals, we stay in a hotel ,close to the Moulin. And during this period the Moulin help us find a place to live after that. Most of us took apartments from girls who were finishing their contract as we were starting. The staff at the Moulin are really helpful. They assist us in finding places to live, organising visas, bank accounts, and other things to help us settle in (phones, internet, paperwork etc).

You started out in the chorus “Les Doriss Girls”) then moved to the “Nude Line”. How did you land a Lead role?

There are 2 groups of girls. The Dancer Line and the Nude (topless) Line. I`ve been at the Moulin for 3 years now, I started in the Dancer Line and after one year Ii began replacing (understudying) the nude line. After 2 years I moved over to the nude line permanently. The nude line is topless in most of the numbers in the show, it`s not completely nude!
I “swing” some parts of the show, which means I get to be in different places and routines each night. It`s great because it keeps the show interesting for me and doesn`t get boring because I`m constantly changing roles and wearing different costumes.
Auditions were held to understudy the principal role (there are 3 female principals roles). We were advised by the Ballet Mistress as to which role we should audition for – they require different “looks” . My auditioned was successful & I`ve been understudying this role for almost 2 years. I really enjoy it. It`s a privilege because only a select group of girls make it through the audition.

A typical day in Paris?
A typical day for me begins at around midday. We have time in the day to catch up with friends, go out for a meal or go shopping. In the summer we regularly go to the park for picnics in the afternoon, there’s always something to do or see in Paris! We go to work at around 8pm. The first show is at 9pm, the second at 11pm. We have a short break in between the shows (about 20 minutes). Just enough time to fix hair and makeup and have a chat. After work I usually come home and call my family in Australia, watch a DVD and “wind down”. Sometimes we organise to go out to nightclubs or bars after work for a drink or a meal. Places stay open until very late in Paris!
Sometimes we are asked to perform on TV shows, perform at events and at big football matches in Paris, it`s fun to do other gigs and represent the Moulin at different places. I went to San Remo, Italy for 3 days to perform at the San Remo Music Festival. There are lots of extra opportunities at the Moulin.
During the show you get to swim in the snake tank!
Yes, apart from the 3 principal roles, there are 2 soloist girls (who also have understudies) and a few understudies for the snake tank. I have been swimming with the snakes for about 2.5 years now. Some girls prefer not to try it, because they are fearful of the snakes, which I can totally understand – the snakes are huge and strong and a bit scary at first. But I enjoy it, it`s a highlight of the show!
There are also male soloist, and principal positions in the show. The guys have a chance to audition, and go through a similar process to us.
Alana Hyde
The Moulin Rouge will be auditioning in Australia in July 2010. For audition info, see below…
Moulin Rouge -Tall Dancers, Male and Female
Boys Minimum Height 185 cms/6’1″
Girls Minimum Height 175 cms/5’8″
Excellent classical and jazz training along with bright personality essential.
Sunday 11th July at 1pm
215 Anzac Parade
Sunday 18th July at 1pm
Victorian College of the Arts
School of Dance
234 St Kilda RD South Bank
Tuesday 20th July at 1pm
Sydney Dance Company
The Warf, Pier4
Hickson Road
Walsh Bay
Monday 26th July at 1pm
Ausdance WA
King Street Arts Centre
Level 1
(enter via Munster Lane
just off King Street)
Registration and warm up from one hour before audition start time
Moulin Rouge
Le Moulin Rouge – 82, blvd de Clichy – 75018 Paris – France
Tel : 33 (0) 1 53 09 82 82 •

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