You’ve heard the song. You’ve seen the movie. You may even know the can-can. Now, go beyond the feathers and sequins to see what really goes on backstage at the world-famous Moulin Rouge. In this video, we followed Isabelle Van den Bergh Cook, a member of the Paris theater’s most coveted cabaret.
As glamourous as it appears, being a Moulin Rouge dancer is no easy job. The company’s signature dancers have a very demanding schedule, with daily rehearsals as well as two performances every night, six days a week, with just one night off. The first show starts at 9 p.m. followed by the second at 11 p.m. But despite the seemingly grueling schedule, the excitement of performing in front of 1,800 people per night keeps Isabelle on her toes.
“We’re all in here every night working together,” she says. “I was surprised to find out that it was a lovely atmosphere backstage.”
Opened in 1889, the Moulin Rouge remains a monument to France’s golden-era of La Belle Époque. Several dances are performed and up to 11 costumes changes happen per show (think feathers, sequins, the works!), but the can-can is still a fan favorite, Isabelle says, adding that it is also her favorite number to perform. “It’s a very quick dance — you have a lot of kicks, jump splits — you get the feeling of the olden days and what the Moulin used to be.”
Go behind the scenes with her as she prepares to hit the stage.