You’ve seen her image emblazoned on the Frantic Follies billboard outside the Westmark Whitehorse.
You’ve seen her photo in countless tourist brochures and flyers as the saucy cancan dancer.
You know her as a dance teacher, but Rebecca (Becky) Reynolds has a life behind the scenes, too, as choreographer for the Sourdough Rendezvous Cancan Dancers.
Reynolds, a graduate of Red Deer College Conservatory of Ballet and Grant MacEwan Performing Arts Program, first came to the Yukon in 2000 as a cancan dancer for the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue. As so many before her, she fell in love with the place.
In 2002, when up for a visit, she auditioned for a permanent teaching position at Northern Lights School of Dance (NLSD): “I wasn’t too prepared, and I had no dance clothes. I wore my pink long johns and borrowed a tank top, so I could teach a ballet class. I was already known as a cancan girl … but a teacher?
“I was pretty darned nervous,” she added. “I was really glad to get the job though, as I wanted to stay up here.”
Reynolds taught at NLSD and danced in the Follies until the fall of 2006 when she decided to give La Belle Province a visit and spend a year in Montréal.
“There I was really exposed to the commercial dance scene. I worked as a magician’s assistant, and I was hired as a model for a trade show. I got a job with Champagne Showgirls, a Vegas-style show.
“I think they really liked me because they asked me to be their dance captain and choreographer.
“Being a showgirl, however, isn’t all glam. It was hard work, and the headgear we had to wear could weigh up to 10 pounds.
“I was bruised and bleeding … but it was also fun.”
Reynolds felt that it was a rewarding experience and it gave her some great choreographic skills. Although she loved Montréal and did get close to the other dancers in the show, her heart was still in the Yukon.
In 2007, she came back to Whitehorse. She heard that the Rendezvous Society was looking for a new choreographer for the cancan dancers.
“It was a pretty intense screening process, but I got the job.”
Reynolds has choreographed for the dancers for three years now. Although she loves the job, she admits there are many challenges.
“The call for auditions is in August. The first day is an information session. Then the second call is the actual dance audition followed by three more callbacks until the dance line is picked.”
She sighs, then adds, “This is really stressful. I have to pick the dancers based on personality, ability to pick up, and good attitude. I set the standards pretty high.”
The cancan line is made up of 12 dancers and, this year, they are working on seven dances.
“This is good for the dancers and the audiences. Some pieces are more appropriate for family events and others are fun for the bar scene.”
Last year, in a week and a half, the Rendezvous Cancan Dancers performed 33 times. Each show has three dances, which means 99 dances in total were performed.
“I love this work!” says Reynolds with a grin. “It is a lot like working for the Champagne Showgirls … minus the crazy headgear.
“Although we live in a small northern city, we are still a well-rehearsed and dedicated group of performers.
“Remember, too, these girls all come from different backgrounds — government workers, school teachers, geologists — so this is a labour of love for them as well. It’s fun to hang out with the girls twice a week during rehearsals, too.”
When asked if she would cancan again, Becky laughed and said, “I don’t know about dancing, but I have fond memories of my cancan days at the Follies. I remember our backstage antics and the piles of candy!
“I also have fond memories of my Champagne Showgirls days in Montréal. I think the camaraderie amongst the girls is the most important thing. I feel the same kind of bond with the Rendezvous Cancan Dancers. We get close, we share stories and we care about each other.
“That’s what makes me happy.”
The Rendezvous Cancan Dancers kick off their season Feb. 11.