South Shields dancer in Paris’s Moulin Rouge looks forward to returning to stage after pandemic closure

South Shields mum Caroline Raynal is the principal dancer at the world-famous Moulin Rouge which is preparing to reopen for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 10:28 am

Returning to the stage has been a long time coming for dancer Caroline Raynal.

The lead dancer of the Moulin Rouge in Paris has spent the last 16 months of the coronavirus pandemic at her home in Brittany with husband, Oliver Raynal, and two-year-old son Dylan.

Trying to keep as fit as possible during stict lockdowns has been challenging in itself, but Caroline says the real work is only just beginning as rehearsals resume ahead of the theatre’s first show on September 10.

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Caroline Raynal is currently rehearsing ahead of the Moulin Rouge reopening on September 10.

Caroline, who has spent the last 15 years performing in the iconic French cabaret, said: “The rehearsals are pretty intense.

"I think they are trying to make use even fitter and stronger than we were before!”

Caroline has been rehearsing since June, but as the show draws ever nearer, dancers will be stepping up practice sessions to around five nights a week, spending hours at a time going over routines and taking part in fitness classes.

But after such a long time away, Caroline and the 60 other dancers, who come from 14 different countries, can’t wait to perform in front of an audience once again.

Caroline Raynal from South Shields has been performing at the Moulin Rouge since 2009.

They will be starring in show, "Féerie,” two hours of entertainment combining dance pieces and surprise acts.

Caroline, a former Whitburn Comprehensive pupil, said: “It is special every time I am on stage.

“[But] the first night back will be massive – I am hoping for a big party after all of these rehearsals!

"It will be really special to be there for that and I think everyone will be buzzing to be on stage.

Caroline Raynal is the prinicpal dancer at the Moulin Rouge.

"The audiences are dying to get back in the theatre again, I think everyone has really missed the theatre.

"It is going to be great to perform and get back to doing what I love.”

Caroline, who says she has been the only Geordie in all the years she has been at the Moulin Rouge, is also looking forward to finally returning home to South Shields at the end of September after such a long time away because of the pandemic.

Her parents still live in the town and and will be coming to see her perform when the theatre reopens.

Caroline Raynal performing at the Moulin Rouge.

Caroline added: "There will be lots of tears when I get off the plane!”

Caroline started dancing when she was just two years old at the Valerie Shepherd Dance Academy, where she trained and performed until she was 16.

Having trained in tap, ballet and modern jazz, Caroline moved to Blackpool to train professionally at the Phil Winston’s Theatreworks.

She also attended the Kathleen Burdon School of Ballet in the town.

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Caroline Raynal will be performing in the show "Féerie”.