Yes, it’s a glittering, enchanting cabaret replete with topless feathered costumes (1,000 costumes, to be specific), cancan dancing, and a champagne-imbibed audience. But it’s quite the athletic performance as well.
There are 4 predominant dancing acts, each with their very own, Wait did they really just try this?! moments (including an underwater dance performance), and talent performances in between. A roller skating duo had me borderline screaming in awe, while two men used the strength of their necks—?!?—to support one another’s full body weight.
The forged of 60 artists performs six nights per week, two shows an evening. With a grueling schedule like that, what does a dancer do to maintain their body in a state of peak performance and health?
That’s exactly what I asked certainly one of the principal dancers, 23-year-old Allie Goodbun from Toronto, Canada. With a level in kinesiology from the University of Toronto—plus 16 prior years of dance experience—Goodbun has a singular insight into what her body needs, and how you can keep it as healthy as possible, for so long as possible.
A day within the lifetime of a Moulin Rouge dancer
Goodbun moved to Paris in late 2021 to start her job as a full-time dancer on the emblematic venue. Since then, she’s adopted a recent routine that appears quite a bit different from the one she had back at home.
12 to 12:30 pm: Wake up
Goodbun rises around midday—the most important change from her pre-Moulin regimen. With shows at 9 pm and 11 pm each night, she doesn’t finish work until after 1 am, so she sleeps in to make up for it. “I don’t have a morning routine [anymore]; my routine now could be ‘how briskly can I get out of the home so I can see as much of Paris as I can?!’”
But first she eats a fast breakfast at home. “Something like a granola bowl, egg on toast, avocado tomato sandwich—substantial [enough] to get me through until ‘lunch,’” she says.
1 pm: Walk or bike to a coffee spot, explore Paris
On occasion, the Moulin Rouge has a compulsory dance rehearsal from 1 to 4:30 pm. Otherwise, Goodbun will enterprise out of her Montmartre apartment by the theater to hit the town. “I probably go to 5 different arrondissements on daily basis,” she says. “I’ll go on my bike wherever I feel like hanging out; I believe I’m going to a distinct coffee spot on daily basis.” Goodbun loves that her nighttime working hours allow her to see Paris within the daytime, and has shared a few of her favorite café discoveries on her TikTok. “There’s something in regards to the convenience of a fresh pastry from a boulangerie… that’s just not a thing back home.”
5 pm: Eat and prepare for the show
Around 5 or 5:30, Goodbun will make herself a meal to fuel her body for that night’s shows. She points out that that is during a “dead zone” through which many French restaurants are closed between lunch and dinner services, so she normally finally ends up eating at home, cooking herself what she calls “North American classics,” like a meat-potato-vegetable combo, chicken stir fry, or tacos. Then it’s off to the theater.
7:30 pm: Warm up on the Moulin Rouge
Goodbun’s pre-show warmup isn’t too intensive, she shares. “I’ve been lively and out on my bike and walking all day, and I need to save lots of my energy for the shows—it’s a balance between staying lively and never exhausting yourself, so that you’re not drained while you come into work.” She’ll do a dance-specific warmup, stretching out and activating the muscles she’ll be using within the show, then she gets her hair and makeup ready for 9 pm showtime.
9 pm and 11 pm: Back-to-back performances
With a resumé that features Disney TV shows, modeling, and competitive dance, being on stage is nothing recent for Goodbun. Though she is the principal dancer for most of the shows in the course of the week, she also rotates (and knows each dancer’s part!) and will play a distinct role depending on the night.
1:15 am: Wrap up and go home
Goodbun uses her final moments within the theater to take her makeup off, shower, put costumes away, and alter into something comfortable. “When I’m going home I’m ready for bed!” she says.
2 am: Dinnertime
Goodbun eats her “second dinner” when she gets home, normally something quick that can refuel her body without taking much time to prep, like a sandwich and protein shake. “I mainly never exit for dinner since I work those hours. The one night off I even have per week, sometimes if I even have plans I’ll eat out, but the vast majority of my food that I eat outside of my house is that coffee and croissant.”
3 am: Wind down
With the six-hour time difference from Toronto and the night owl schedule, Goodbun finally ends up being on an analogous schedule to her parents and partner back in Canada. “I’m going to bed and waking up concurrently them,” she says. She uses this window at the tip of her work day to FaceTime before falling asleep.
3:30 am to 4 am: Bedtime
While some Parisians are getting up to start out their day, Goodbun is finally lights out for the night.
How she stays strong and energized
Rest, rest, REST!
“Rest has been the number-one priority since moving here,” she says. “If I’m drained, it’s game over for me. I do know I would like to sleep as much as I can, so long as I would like to, and I purposefully don’t plan anything ever before 2 pm.” That’s an unspoken rule amongst all of the dancers, she tells me. “I knew before [moving here and starting this job] that I’d need loads of rest, but to not the extent that I do know now.”
She says that this modification to her circadian rhythm and sleep schedule has been the most important adjustment from her former life; prioritizing the standard of her sleep and recovery has been tantamount to her success within the show (and it’s paying off—she was promoted to principal in about 18 months). And getting out of the apartment quickly to get some sunlight is her way of keeping herself regulated for this shifted sleep schedule.
In addition to sleep, Goodbun decompresses by getting in every day movement, and a really French petit plaisir she enjoys every afternoon—a coffee and croissant. “I gave away my coffee machine,” she said. “[Going out for] coffee has change into my mental and social outlet; a solution to leave the home, meet a friend, explore the town.”
A Frenchified fitness routine
Of course, her primary exercise is the no less than 30 hours of dancing she does per week; six days on, one time off—a schedule that she grew accustomed to in her teenage years. As for the way she cross-trains? That has evolved quite a bit.
For Goodbun, Paris is her gym. “I haven’t spent a day inside since moving here,” she says. “I even have an lively every day schedule instead of cross training; this has been one of the best thing for my physical and mental health.”
In this manner, she’s adopted a really French approach to a healthy lifestyle. Goodbun used to virtually live in athleisure and Lululemon—she even worked on the SoulCycle front desk.
“I used to be an enormous class girlie in Toronto—spin, HIIT, CrossFit, Pilates classes; at all times considering ‘What gyms am I gonna go to?’” she says. “Then I got to Paris, went right into rehearsals, and tried to enroll at a gym to go within the morning before my dance rehearsals at Moulin Rouge. Come the fourth day, that was an enormous NO. I had no energy. I even have to be cautious of not overdoing it. I would like to hearken to my body and never just my habits that I had in Canada.
“Fitness is a little more advanced, more current in North America,” she says. “Because there, that is your way of feeling put together—by doing all your morning routine, wearing your workout clothes, understanding.”
In France, the boutique fitness craze and wellness obsession has yet to catch on. “Here, productivity is having fun with your slow morning, ensuring your own home is clean, putting on a very nice outfit, and going to the boulangerie—it’s a distinct mindset.”
She does note that most of the dancers do in truth go to a gym, but in trade they do not necessarily get out into the town the best way she does. “I prefer my lively lifestyle for longer periods of the day, on foot or on my bike, after which warming up how I would like to for dance.”