Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
he’s young, she’s beautiful, she is at least 1,75 m tall and she never goes to bed before three o’clock in the morning. Does that sound exciting? Well, the truth is that Sophie’s life is pure discipline. Sophie is one of the 60 female dancers of the Moulin Rouge.
Sophie, originally from the Côte d’Azur, 29 years old, is what they call a Doriss Girl, named after the German dancer Doris Haug who founded the ballet at the end of the 50ies.
I met Sophie one late summer evening in her loge. Beautiful girls and handsome guys (my gay friends would have loved them…), where preparing for the show. It was a big hustle and bustle backstage, the habilleuses were preparing the costumes. There were feather-boas all over. Sophie was almost ready, her make-up already done. The lashes were enormous, the lips very red. But she appeared to be quite a natural girl. “I started classical dance at the age of fore”, she told me. From 15 until she was 20 years old she was attending a famous ballet school in Cannes. She actually is a contemporary dancer.
But after some engagements at Opera Houses in the Netherlands and Belgium, after a lot of travelling and moving around, she was looking for something stable. Sophie gave it a try and did a dance audition in front of Janet Pharaoh, the ballet mistress of the Moulin Rouge. And to her own big surprise, she was hired. She became part of company with dancers out of 14 nations, “the best”, Pharaoh says immodestly.
“It’s fore years already, imagine”, Sophie says. “At the beginning, I was afraid to fall in a kind of routine. But it was never the case.” She actually has no time to get bored: scenes and costumes are changing in a breathtaking rhythm. And her work is physically arduous. When we talked, she was preparing for the first evening show of Féerie, nearly two hours of non-stop performing. But after a short break, when I was already on my way home, she was pursuing with the second one. “It’s a quarter past one when I usually jump, freshly showered, into a cab.” At home she has light dinner and goes to bed not before three. “I’m too excited, there is still too much adrenaline.”
That means she never really sees her boyfriend? “May be that’s why our relationship lasts”, Sophie admits laughingly.
Once up, she’s heading for the gym, doing Yoga, Bikram or Ashtanga, Pilates or Body Balance. “Everything that is strengthening the core muscles.” And then? Will she at least have some French fries after? Not at all. “My life hygiene is very strict: healthy food, no alcohol, a lot of exercise and enough sleep.” Is she thinking about having children? Yes, she is. But she still has time. “Plus”, she says, “there a some girls here who are mothers. They say it works and it looks like.”
Sophie’s boyfriend is working in a completely different milieu. At the beginning he couldn’t make the link between the women on stage and the Sophie he knew. But he quickly turned out to be very proud of her. First he couldn’t even recognize her on stage. “He was going on asking: Where is my Sophie?”
Well, I for my part, had the same impression. Among all these beautiful, topless and long-legged girls, I couldn’t find “my” Sophie. And than, suddenly, I discovered her. There she was: Smiling, dancing, having fun. As if every night she would get a kick out of it, twice.