Moulin Rouge

Definition

Theater

  • A famous cabaret and dance hall that was opened in 1889 inMontmartre, Paris, by Joseph Oller and the former butcher CharlesZidler. A giant windmill adorned the entrance, while the garden usedfor outdoor dancing and summer concerts had a hollow stucco elephantfor decoration. In 1903 a music hall stage was built and the sizeof the dance-floor reduced. Although the cancan dance did not originatethere, the Moulin Rouge was the first venue of any size and respectabilityto present it. Celebrity dancers such as la Goulue and la Mome Fromageled a high-kicking chorus famous for their ability to perform thegrand ecart (splits) and porte d'armes (holding theuplifted ankle head-high). Yvette Guilbert sang her sultry songs andToulouse-Lautrec captured the gaiety of the scene in his famous paintingsand posters. Mistinguett, France's leading star of music hall, wasa regular performer before World War I (later becoming part-proprietorfor several years).

    After a fire in 1915 the Moulin Rouge was rebuilt to offerboth cancan and ballet as dinner shows. Jacques-Charels revitalizedits fortunes in the late 1920s with a series of risqué revues.The building subsequently became a cinema, but the Moulin Rouge reopenedas a cabaret venue in 1953. It now continues to provide a populartourist attraction, with the original cancan as one of several cabaretitems, including a topless chorus line.

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