Fuchsia Bullot has been accepted to be apart of the dance crew at the Moulin Rouge. Photo: Jay Cronan
It's obvious what drives ambitious Australian showgirls to aspire to perform the can-can at Moulin Rouge in Paris but not what entices them to swim naked in a 200-litre tank of water with snakes.
Next month Canberra showgirl Fuchsia Bullot, 22, will get that thrill as she leaves to dance at Moulin Rouge for 12 months.
I've got more legs than I can handle so why not pop them in fishnets and show them off?
It is a fairytale come true for Bullot, whose earlier attempts at Moulin Rouge auditions were as a teenager but she was considered too young.
Fuchsia Bullot says she always wanted to be a dancer but her 177cm height could have limited her opportunities. Photo: Jay Cronan
''When every girl is little she dreams of being a princess or an actress or a dancer,'' she says. ''I always wanted to be a dancer from a young age though I wasn't sure what sort of a dancer.
''When I saw the series on ABC TV about the Australian girls at Moulin, I realised that was what I wanted to go for. Then my Mum saw the advertisement for auditions and said 'Let's go along, you're tall enough.' "
Like all contracts, getting it is one thing, keeping it is another. At Moulin Rouge keeping up appearances and keeping off the croissants helps. Showgirls are weighed regularly.
Bullot has all the right ingredients for a showgirl - blonde, leggy, gorgeous, 177 centimetres tall, and yes, there is French in her heritage a long way back but she speaks only a little of the language.
"I've always been a lot taller than everyone else and I reached a point where I was going to be much, much too tall for the Australian Ballet or any of the other ballets so I thought, 'What other avenue can I take?' " Bullot says.
"I've got more legs than I can handle so why not pop them in fishnets and show them off?''
Bullot says she becomes another person once the curtains are drawn.
''I forget that I'm Fuchsia. Once I put on the lashes and lipstick and the fancy costumes I just get up there and become this showgirl.''
And she insists the nudity involved - she is required to be topless - ''isn't an issue''.
''I don't see it as taking my clothes off in a nudity sort of way. I see it as another costume. I'm there to entertain people and if that means taking it to the less clothed artistic side, which is obviously one of the oldest traditions, then that's what it takes.
''We've got to do this for people who are paying all that money and give the best possible performance.''
Being a showgirl at the Moulin Rouge is physically demanding with a two-hour show every night for six nights but, as Bullot explains, "We do rotations - so many nights on and so many off. I'll be living two minutes away from the Moulin. There are others in the same apartment but I'll have my own studio which is quite small. From what I've researched, France is quite an expensive place to live so we're definitely given enough to live off and to experience a little of the life there."
Bullot and her mother went to the Moulin Rouge as a 21st birthday treat last year.
"The Moulin Rouge is absolutely beautiful," Bullot says. "You hear so much and you see pictures and hear the music and then you actually get there and, bang, there's the windmill and it's real - it exists - it's Moulin Rouge.
''Inside there's red velvet and an absolutely beautiful dining hall and hundreds and hundreds of waiters. They've almost got their own choreographed show.
"Then the dancer came out with the snakes I thought it would be fantastic and I'd love to do that," she says.
When she was there she met met a group of 40 girls, of which 10 were Australian.
"I always hear that Australians are so easy to work with,'' she says. ''We come from a very accepting society - quite laid back as well as knowing our own boundaries, take corrections, do the work, and then separate the work from the other life.''
School days were at Lyneham High and Hawker College and ballet classes were at Canberra Youth Ballet and Kim Harvey School of Dance but it was at Legs Dance with Michelle Heine where she was encouraged to follow her dream and become a showgirl.
Bullot is the third showgirl from Legs to be offered a contract at Moulin Rouge. "I started learning ballet at three … you really need ballet training," Bullot says. "Then I came to Legs and Miss Michelle just poured her heart and soul into me."
One of Bullot's dancing highlights was when Heine took her dancers to the US in 2008.
"We did workshops and classes and performed in a big show at the Hollywood Key Club choreographed by Andre Fuentes," Bullot says. "He's been in movies and done choreography with Britney Spears so it was just fantastic to have him teach us - choreograph something for us.''
Last October Bullot worked as a backup dancer in Mumbai in two movies. A Tollywood love-story entitled Sweetie, to be released soon, and a Bollywood movie Khiladi 786, which was released on YouTube last November.
Bullot's family have always supported her aspirations. "They've driven me everywhere since I was three years old," she says. "They're very proud. You can't do it alone. School is hard - dancing is hard. Finding the time to get everything done is hard. I did year 12 and uni and CIT all at the same time,'' says Bullot, who has almost finished a diploma in business management.
Heine, a former professional showgirl from South Africa, says that special quality in a showgirl is not something that can always be taught. "Australian girls know how to work a crowd," she says. "It's a very visual thing - the face has to be beautiful - they have to dance with their eyes and whole face. Fuchsia has taken everything on board that I've given her … The wow factor is in Fuchsia.''
A dancer's career is short and Heine has taught Bullot to be realistic about the future. "I'm really excited to do this,'' she says. ''I want to do my bit and give what I can to the world and after that I'd like to have a family and breed some other little dancers. Hopefully my family will make it easy for me when I return to Canberra and make me lots of croissants.
"I do enjoy living in Canberra. It really is a beautiful place."