The Can-Can was created and immortalized in France during the mid-1800′s. This popular dance style was primarily performed by female dancers, often in a chorus line. These ladies would dance in a hall for large audiences that would normally consist of men. This dance style became very popular and was rumored to be even too “risky” to be performed and was ultimately banned from public performances for a short period of time.During the 19th century the Moulin Rouge in Paris became the home of the can-can and French choreographer, Pierre Sandrini made the iconic moves that everyone associates this dance craze with; can-can line, high kicks, cart wheels, rond de jambe and a flying jump kicks ending in the splits. This dance movement took the world by storm and soon became popular in the United Kingdom and the United States in the mid 1900′s.
I have been a dancer for many years, and have never had the chance to study nor perform the can-can. Naturally I needed to do some background work and locate plenty of information on not only the dance style but also the history behind the dance. This task that I was given proved to be very interesting and provided me with a great understanding and knowledge of the dance and its history. As a history major, I truly enjoyed my discovery of the history of the can-can and finding the appropriate way to incorporate it into this show and the end result is done wonderfully by the cast!
The Game of Love and Chance takes place during this time period in France, and director Andy Massingham has been able to find ways to incorporate this dance and popular music into many scenes in the show. The challenge of recreating this dance was trying to find the appropriate timing and speed to perform. The original dance was performed at a very high speed, so naturally our actors needed the timing slowed down just a bit. The iconic moves and steps also needed to be re-created so that the audience would be able to connect and associate with the dance. The show itself is very comedic and romantic, so the dance needed to reflect the mood of the show, but also capture the essence of the time period and the dance. These actors have done a fantastic job at capturing the essence of the dance, while still remaining in full character. It was a challenge and great pleasure to help re-create such a great piece of choreography during this production and hope the audience leave kicking and dancing.