“Alright ladies, we are going on as soon as this song is over. Tallies, you’re up first. Shorties, get ready to go on right after them. I know we are all tired and looking forward to getting out of these shoes, but just keep smiling, we’re almost at the finish line,” one of the choreographers shouts into a whirling mass of skirts, feathers, and adrenaline that is this year’s Air North Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Can Can Line.
The dancers huddle in a cramped hallway behind the scenes at their 12th venue of the day.
Six months ago this group of accountants, policy analysts, nurses and stay-at-home moms were just regular Yukoners like you and I, but now they have become Yukon celebrities with requests for pictures everywhere they go. How did this happen? Through courage, hard work, and an undying determination.
Can can hopefuls audition in August of each year and the lucky few are invited to sign on for 90 minute rehearsals twice weekly, running from September to February. The can can is designed for amateur dancers, which is what makes these women so amazing; these are not girls who have spent their lives dancing – some have never even taken a dance class before.
What the choreographers and can can manager look for is personality and teach-ability over talent. They value girls who can make a mistake and move on with a smile, girls who are genuinely happy to be there and who support those around them, because being on the Rendezvous can can line can be a whirlwind experience, and while you can teach coordination and poise, you can’t teach the ability to roll with the punches.
What does it Take to be a Can Can Dancer?
Six months of determination, of going straight to practice after work, of trying that spin and skirt flip over and over again until you get it just right. It means that when you hit the stage at Can Can Kickoff and the schedule shifts into overdrive for the rest of February, you can be proud of the character you have worked so hard to become. You learn in amazement what your body is actually capable of. Your alter ego takes to the stage like she had been there all her life, and you truly become that character the moment your costume goes on.
But there is more to can can than the stage. There are also the unlikely bonds you form with the other members of the line, fellow Yukoners that you might otherwise have overlooked in your busy life.
Here you have built lasting friendships and formed a kinship with all can can alumni – a, who are a fierce group of women bonded together through a mutual experience that can only truly be understood by those who have lived it.
You may have helped to spread Rendezvous spirit in Ottawa or Old Crow (and you may know what it feels like to beg a security guard at the end of a long day to please have mercy and let you keep your shoes on through the metal detector so that your tired feet won’t swell),
You may have taught 3rd graders how to kick the can can at Grey Mountain Primary, you may even have sung a song to dance the can can to while performing for the elderly at the Thomson Centre because the sound system was broken and you didn’t want to let them down. Everyone’s experience on the line is a little different, but all of them become lasting memories that will stay with you a lifetime.
So remember when you see these tenacious ladies on the stage at the Rendezvous main tent, or performing at an event at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, that they are ordinary people who have transformed into performers in a very short time through a lot of hard work.
Maybe give them an extra loud hoot of encouragement, because your smiles and cheers make it all worthwhile.
If you are interested in getting involved with next year’s Air North Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Can Can Line, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.