The 2018 Eldorado Line:
Steal Your Fella Ella (left), Last Call Liz, Razzle Dazzle Rachel, Lollipop Ginger
Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous season begins in February, but for some people it is a year round commitment. The women of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Cancan Line are arguably the most in-demand group during Rendezvous, and their appearance bookings have expanded to a year round schedule.
Cancan line co-managers Kate Davidson and Sara McPhee-Knowles are three year veterans and are responsible for keeping everything on track during the hectic Rendezvous season and organizing all the veterans for some of the year-round events.
“Being in cancan is a large time commitment and has really turned into a full-year commitment now,” Davidson said. “We are now being asked to put in appearances at different events throughout the year. Some are with our longtime sponsor, Air North, but cancan members have also participated in government promotions or at community events around the Yukon.”
The time commitment for the cancan line is extensive. Since late August, the veterans have participated in numerous events including the Save on Foods Grand Opening, an Easter Seals fundraiser in Vancouver, the Santa breakfast with Festival of Trees and the Winterval parade.
Auditions take place over three days in late August or early September. Two full days are put towards learning the beginning two minutes of the basic songs and the final day is individual interviews to get to know each other better. McPhee-Knowles explains that the audition process is designed to help find individuals who have the commitment and demeanour to work with the group.
“The program is a minimum of four hours a week rehearsal time starting right after the auditions going until February,” McPhee-Knowles said. “If you can’t commit three days for audition, we’ve found you usually can’t commit to the program like you need to.”
The interviews are also to determine if someone is flexible and team oriented. “Having the right attitude and being flexible is key,” McPhee-Knowles explained. “During the main weekend of Rendezvous, 12 girls are basically in a van together for 72 hours and have to get along and make the schedule work. Chemistry is important.”
Also, interviewers ask about prospective cancanners dance history, but trained experience is not required. According to Davidson, cancan hopefuls just need to be able to find a beat and the program will do the rest.
The most common misconception about the cancan dancers remains that they are all professionals. Nothing could be further from the truth according to the managers. The cancan line is made up of volunteers who dedicate the time, all while holding down other careers and life commitments. Over the years, the cancan line has featured women who spend their days as accountants, policy analysts, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, health and safety professionals, social workers, administrative assistants, and teachers and nurses.
For Davidson and McPhee-Knowles, who both moved to the territory in the past three years, the grassroots element to the cancan line exemplifies the magic of the Yukon that has helped make them choose to stay.
“I grew up dancing and you’d work on a piece for months and perform it once or twice,” McPhee-Knowles said. “Here (in the Yukon), you can volunteer and practice for the winter, and then do 30 or 40 shows. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”
Air North’s Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Cancan Line is one of the marquee events over Rendezvous and has a great history in the Yukon. In 2017, the group did 40 shows over the month of February, which included about 20-25 over the Heritage Day long weekend.
The group has several projects coming up including collaborations with Grant Simpson on his Vaudeville production and hosting world renowned cancan author and historian Dr. Clare Parfitt to speak in February.
Individuals looking for more information on cancan or their events can email [email protected] or check them out on Facebook.
Cancan girls Notorious Nona, Jazz Hands Justine, and Mineshaft McGrath and support staff Lumberjack Luc (MC),
Top Shelf Tyson (Music Man), and Silver Streak Sara (Canager)