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Winnipeg ballet brings Moulin Rouge to Grand Forks

Eric Nipp & Amanda Green in Moulin Rouge- The Ballet Photo by Bruce Monk

With extravagant costumes and sultry dancing, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will take a Grand Forks audience on Wednesday to Paris at the turn of the 20th century.

“Moulin Rouge: The Ballet,” loosely based on the 2001 film starring Nicole Kidman, is a tragic love story that its stars say is very approachable to those new to ballet.

“I think this is probably one of the beginner ballets, like ‘Nutcracker,’” said Eric Nipp. “It has a really nice flow and story line that’s really accessible that won’t be hard to understand, and the story is interesting and the dance is interesting.”

“Compared to ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ it’s a little more contemporary, but it still has that artistic form,” said Amanda Green.

Created specifically for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, “Moulin Rouge” is one of the company’s most successful shows. It has been seen by more than 100,000 people in North America, and it was recently turned into film, which is playing in Cineplex movie theaters across Canada.

The company is set to perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the UND’s Chester Fritz Auditorium with tickets on sale at the box office.

Variety of styles

The ballet tells the story of two young lovers drawn to Paris for a chance at love and destiny.

Nathalie, played by Green, is taken in by Charles Zidler, one of the founders of the Moulin Rouge cabaret played by Nipp. She is quickly transformed from a simple launderette to the star of the show.

At the same time, her love interest Matthew is discovered by renowned French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who takes the young artist under his wing.

Nathalie and Matthew fall madly in love, but Zidler becomes jealous of their relationship and tries to keep Nathalie for himself.

“He tries to assert his dominance,” said Nipp. “You see a lot of change in character from the beginning when he’s auditioning Nathalie... to the end when he’s angry because nothing’s going his way. There’s a lot of character swings and mood swings.”

The change in characters and storyline lends itself to a variety of music styles and dance styles, including a dark and sensual tango scene in the second act.


Green and Nipp have been a part of “Moulin Rouge” since the beginning, performing several different parts. Green started performing the part of the tango dancer. Now, she’s taking the lead.

“We’ve kind of moved around in our ranks,” she said. “Now, there’s other girls doing my original roles. It’s fun to see the progression and pass on (the roles).”

Along with the passing of roles, Green and Nipp have seen the show, its choreography and its storyline evolve throughout the years.

“The show in 2009 and the show in 2014, I don’t think they really compare,” Nipp said. “It’s just evolved so much. The base is there, but it’s very different.”

“It’s a well-rounded ballet,” Green said. “There’s beautiful music, beautiful sets, beautiful costumes. It’s an overall package. It’s a really great show.”

There are even a few comedic elements such as when Matthew is stripped down to his skivvies and changed into a full tuxedo on stage.

Green and Nipp said “Moulin Rouge” is a great overall show that appeals to a wide range of audiences.

After the Grand Forks show, the ballet will tour four additional Midwestern cities before returning to Canada.

If you go:

  •  What: Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents “Moulin Rouge.”
  •  When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
  •  Where: Chester Fritz Auditorium.
  •  Cost: $39 for main floor or $23.50 for mezzanine and balcony.
  •  Info: (701) 777-4090.
Jasmine Maki
Jasmine Maki is a features reporter for Accent. Her main beats are arts and entertainment and life and style. She also occasionally covers health, family and TV.
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