When the curtain goes up it’s a spectacle of sequins, feathers and nudity. But putting on a star performance in the Moulin Rouge takes much more than heels and high kicks.
Sarah Tandy from West Lothian, one of the Moulin’s lead dancers, is starring in a new documentary shining a spotlight on the world’s most infamous cabaret during its 130th anniversary year.
Sarah, from Whitburn, will give a glimpse behind the scenes of her gruelling schedule for the new programme that captures the sheer talent and commitment it takes to deliver two shows a night, 365 days a year.
Moulin Rouge Ecosse will follow the lives of Sarah along with Michaela Rondelli, from Almondbank, Perthshire and Lucy Monaghan, from Glasgow. It’s the first time in the show’s history that three Scottish dancers have been part of the ensemble.
Sarah, 37, is at the heart of the glitz and glamour leading a 60-strong troupe as the principal dancer.
She says it can be nerve racking getting up in front of the 1000-seat theatre that is packed to the rafters every night, with audiences from every corner of the globe and rarely a spare seat. But for Sarah, it’s living the dream.
The mum-of-one has been at the heart of the raunchy show for 13 years – it’s even where she started her family. Now she joins her hubby fellow dancer David Tandy in several numbers on stage every night, after the pair met and fell in love at the Moulin. She said: “Joining the Moulin has given me everything – a well-paid job, a husband and a family.”
Returning to the stage after her infant son Elliott was born was daunting but since getting back on stage she has never looked back: “I’d been off for a full year and went back to work when he was six months old. I had a fear of putting on those costumes again, and getting out in front of thousands of people, not being sure I’d be able to do it like before.
“But I started my career at Moulin and that’s where I hope to retire. I guess it’s true what they say, once a Moulin show girl, always a Moulin showgirl”.
Michaela has been dancing the can-can with the Moulin for three and a half years and is a former champion Highland Dancer.
She told her mum when she was just six that she wanted to be a professional dancer.
BBC Alba filmed the documentary during a special birthday performance of the French Can-Can on the street outside the venue for the 130th celebrations.
Solus Productions, who produced the programme, secured privileged backstage access to join Sarah and the dancers as they prepare for two shows a night with just one day off a week.
Viewers will follow Sarah, Michaela and Lucy at home in their Parisian apartments.
The trio also made a rare flying visit back home to take part in a charity event outside Edinburgh, showing off the colourful costumes of the Moulin Rouge.
During their visit the dancers re-visited their old dance Scottish dance schools for the first time since taking to the stage in Paris to give advice to aspiring young dancers.