They don’t speak much French, but they know how to kick their heels – and did just that 100 times a night until they were chosen as the first Canadians to join the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Katelyn Adams (from Ancaster, Ont.) and Cara Lee Hrdlitschka (from North Vancouver) were accepted as Doriss Girls – the name for club’s the female dance corps – at auditions in Canada last summer. Both 5’9, with past experience as cruise ship performers, they decamped to Paris in April to begin a one-year contract with the famed cabaret, which dates back to 1889. They shared their first impressions before donning their elaborate (strategically revealing) costumes and moving their long legs on stage.
How do you prepare for cancan?
KA: Even if you’re flexible, it doesn’t mean you can kick your legs at the pace of a 10-minute cancan number. Every night, I keep kicking to [the point of] fatigue so that I will be ready for rehearsals.
CLH: I didn’t realize to what extent we would be doing cancan every day – two hours! So my hamstrings went into a bit of a shock from all the kicks. But they taught us wonderfully: We didn’t start by kicking up all the way; we started lower and worked our way up.
We seem to be in a dance moment with so many reality shows, flash mobs and campy dance movies. How does that relate to the Moulin Rouge?
KA: A lot of the dance out there – the tricks and crazy things people do with their bodies on reality shows – is very different from what we do. The Moulin is so traditional. It’s not something that will be put on and then forgotten next year. You’re a part of history.
As new Doriss Girls, were there any hazing rituals?
KA: Everyone has been so helpful. But we really felt a part of the Moulin family when they started doing things like putting wet towels in our cancan boots and taking our knickers and hiding them before we go on stage. And even on stage, one girl tried to undo my bra.
To what degree is Parisian food your Kryptonite?
CLH: I thought about that when I first got here. It’s kind of cruel that we have all this great food around us. But it’s really not a problem.
KA: We are very healthy, but of course we love the ice cream and the macarons – you can’t not. And we have a really good workout every night with the two shows.
How did you both end up with nearly identical Canadian water bottles?
KA: My boyfriend was just here and brought them for both of us.
Do people ask what the “eh!” means?
KA: They do – and they don’t understand when I say it’s just a slang word.
So does it get better than the Moulin Rouge?
KA: For me, it doesn’t. This has been my dream for nearly five years.
CLH: I have no idea what I would do next after this. It’s an eye-opener and a jaw-dropper all at once.