Woman behind Moulin Rouge is straight-talking Janet from Leeds

Woman behind dancers at Paris’ famed Moulin Rouge is straight-talking Janet from Leeds – and she has VERY specific requirements for her performers

  • Janet, from Leeds, appears in Moulin Rouge: Yes We Can-Can
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The artistic director of the Moulin Rouge in Paris lays out her very specific requirements for new dancers in a documentary delving into the dog-eat-dog world of cabaret. 

Six-part docuseries Moulin Rouge: Yes We Can-Can, on BBC iPlayer, follows Janet, an ex-dancer from Leeds, as she tries to recruit more dancers for her troupe after she lost staff during the pandemic.

The notorious cabaret club, which has been running for more than 130 years in Paris’s Montmartre district, suffered an exodus of performers during lockdown as Janet reveals she still hasn’t managed to staff the show back to its pre-pandemic levels.

To begin her recruitment drive for the Moulin Rouge, Janet turns to her home nation of England and holds auditions in Leeds – as she reveals most of her performers are from cities and towns in the UK.

Speaking to the camera during a mass dancing audition, the director reveals she has a very specific idea of what she’s looking for in new performers – and if dancers don’t match her precise stipulations, they’re unsuccessful.

‘I know exactly what I need, I always know what I need,’ she says. ‘[The dancers] need to have the height with preferably legs out of proportion. This is because it makes the can-can kicks more spectacular.’

She then examines the dancers as they learn a new routine for the audition – and tells one dancer who is wearing false eyelashes: ‘Unless you know how to stick your lashes on properly, don’t put them on.’

Speaking to the camera, Janet also reveals her specific requirements for her dancers’ breasts; ‘well-formed’, ‘high’ and ‘not too big’. 

She adds she needs her dancers to sport figures that look ‘good in the g-strings’ – and is pictured helping a dancer adjust her knickers.

Moulin Rouge: Yes We Can-Can, on BBC iPlayer, follows the Parisian cabaret show’s artistic director Janet (pictured) as she recruits new dancers for her show

One of the performers, Tooney (right) comes to the decision that she will leave the Moulin Rouge after 12 years

During the first episode of the docuseries, Janet introduces some of her dancers at the Moulin Rouge – with almost all the performers hailing from the UK

The docuseries delves into the glamorous world of cabaret at the Moulin Rouge, which has been running since 1889

One of the hopeful dancers auditioning for the Moulin Rouge is 22-year-old Erin from Liverpool, who reveals she has been rejected from the cabaret show three times.

Like many of the dancers in the show, she is classically trained and studied at ballet school. At 5ft 11in, Erin was too tall to become a ballet dancer – and instead set her sights on cabaret.

She is selected for the final stage of the audition, but she loses her way on the last sequence she is asked to perform.

However, despite suffering with nerves during the dance, Janet offers her a job with the Moulin Rouge ‘immediately’. 

After getting the offer, she says: ‘I’m honestly lost for words… ecstatic.’

Elsewhere in the episode, Janet reflects on her own career in cabaret as she sorts through photos of herself onstage at the Moulin Rouge 40 years ago.

Speaking about the history of the Moulin Rouge, Janet describes it as ‘the beginning of the liberation of women’.

As she is quizzed on topless dancing, which is a key characteristic of the cabaret show, Janet concedes some people might find it ‘outdated’.

However she argues: ‘It’s part of beauty the same as the legs, arms, hands, face, hair… boobies.’

One of Janet’s longest-employed dancers, Jess, nicknamed Tooney, who is one of the few dancers selected to appear topless in the show, says she believes the nudity is managed in a ‘classy way’, despite initially being apprehensive. 

However, at the age of 32 and after 12 and a half years with the Moulin Rouge, she admits her career has not allowed her to pursue the things she wants in her personal life such as having a family.

At the end of the episode, she reveals she has decided to leave the Moulin Rouge to pursue a career as an estate agent back in England, in her home city of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Although she believes she is making the right decision, Tooney breaks down in tears at the ‘daunting’ prospect of beginning a new career.

She says: ‘It’s all I’ve ever known to perform, and I don’t know what it will be like to not do it.’ 

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