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In virus lockdown, Moulin Rouge dancers go through their paces

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Paris (AFP)

Dancers from the Moulin Rouge in Paris, used to strutting their stuff before large, enthusiastic audiences, now have just the mirror, or sometimes a cat to perform for, as they combat lockdown stagnation with a strict exercise regime at home. Alone.

Dancers of the famed cabaret who usually perform French cancans twice a day, six days a week, suddenly find themselves homebound, along with the rest of France due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Working out in my small 30 square-metre (apartment) can be a bit tricky," said Australian Courtney Male, 23, who has performed with the cabaret in Paris' touristy Montmartre district for over a year.

"I try to keep everything as normal as possible," said the brunette, in a black leotard and ponytail, using the fireplace, as the highest feature in her apartment, for a dance bar.

"I work out in the afternoons, ballet bars, whole body workout" in an effort to stay fit without access to a gym or the Moulin Rouge's rehearsal space, she said.

"Then I go for a walk or a run, depending on what I’ve done before, if my workout was strenuous or not that hard," Male added.

The dancers must stay in tip-top shape, ready to tackle the physically demanding cancan as soon as the Moulin Rouge reopens along with other Paris entertainment venues shuttered to prevent the virus' spread.

Many are in small, Parisian apartments.

"For the workouts, (I do) my own routine which sometimes gets tiresome without machines or weights. I find inspiration online with a lot of free classes, yoga, pilates, ballet," said Male.

Mathilde Tutiaux, 32, stretches out on her kitchen counter.

"I am fortunate to have an open kitchen in my small living room," the Moulin Rouge dancer of eight years told AFP.

"I can put out a gym mat there, it gives me a bit of space. But not enough to dance..."

Almost every day at 5:00 pm Tutiaux meets up with friends to exercise together... online.

Though the repertoire for now excludes leaps, spins, or practising "being lifted by the guys".

And the dancers have to watch what they eat.

"The costumes are made to measure, I cannot put on three or four kilos...," said Tutiaux.

"And when you have so much free time, it is difficult not to just stick your head in the fridge."

The Moulin Rouge's 450 employees, including 90 dancers, were placed on partial unemployment since the nationwide lockdown entered into force on March 17.

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