Cabaret de Paris, celebrating old-fashioned showgirl glamour, comes to Brisbane for 3 shows only. Nance Haxton interviews longest-serving principal dancer Marissa Burgess:

A glimpse of the famous Moulin Rouge will come to Brisbane audiences this week with the return of Cabaret de Paris, celebrating old-fashioned showgirl glamour that is rarely seen on Australian stages.

The show, featuring French can-can, adagio dancers, aerial pole acrobats, comedy circus acts, quick change performers and illusionists, will come to the Playhouse at QPAC for three performances only.

Cabaret de Paris QPAC

Marissa Burgess

The star of the show is Australian born and trained Marissa Burgess, the longest-serving (principal) performer in the Moulin Rouge’s 120-year history. The legendary showgirl, with a string of accolades to her name, became the toast of Paris and the subject of many French TV talk shows and a US documentary.

Bringing Hollywood glamour and Parisian dance style sequences to Australia is fantastic fun, but also comes with a strong discipline and athleticism,

“I started learning about this when I was tiny little girl, and it’s just been my one focus all my life.

“I haven’t really gone over to other things, or if I have, it was just to have a quick learn about them and see what they do – if there’s anything I can learn to bring into my own dancing. But really, our skillset is very specific to what we do.”

She hopes that through the show Australian audiences will gain a better appreciation of the showgirl genre,

“It’s about being in touch with your soul and your spirit, bringing that and showing everybody. It’s being extremely vulnerable and opening up and rekindling, finding that little seed that was in you when you’re a kid and you started dancing, which was just sheer passion for movement.

“It’s about going back into that and putting it on the front page, you know? That’s a big ask for someone who’s been soldiered for 16 years. It’s about really digging in deep.”

Marissa will be joined by Sunshine Coast superstar and fellow former Moulin Rouge star, Morgan Kenny, together with the crème de la crème of showgirls – 18 dancers who have graced the stages of Moulin RougeThe Lido and other French cabaret revues also featuring in this 90-minute production.

Cabaret de Paris QPAC

The glittering show includes more than a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of lavish costumes crafted in traditional Parisian style, with feathers, sequins, rhinestones and jewels, many designed by Marissa herself. She says the biggest challenge is designing a costume that is as beautiful as it is functional for the dancers,

“We just have such passion for this kind of showgirl costume, and also for the female form.

“You’ve got the opportunity to just really be unbridled with your design because when you’re doing showgirls, there are no rules. The only rule is to just do the best by the girl and the most flattering for the female form, and the rest of it’s completely free.

“It’s one thing to make a beautiful outfit and to stand around on a red carpet or whatever – even when the functional side hasn’t been thought through. We’ve got all the tricks of the trade in that sense.

“It’s more like coming from old Hollywood movies. “When I was a kid, I remember always asking, ‘How do they make this happen? How do they make that happen?'”

Cabaret de Paris is choreographed by Todd Patrick, one of Australia’s dance leaders who began his career with Disney, before working for Versace, Dior, Issey Miyaki, Gucci and Chanel, across Europe and Asia. As a dancer he worked internationally, one of the highlights being the principal in The Lido in Paris.

Cabaret de Paris plays at the Playhouse, QPAC on 5 and 6 July 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the venue website.