Former Okotokian dancing his way to the top
Art: HTA graduate performing at the world-famous Moulin Rouge
Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 08:43 am
An Okotoks mom is counting down the days to when she can watch her son perform amongst feathers and glitter at the world-famous Moulin Rouge.
Linda Marchand can’t wait to step into the 900-seat Belle Époque Theatre with daughter Amanda and be star-struck as her 23-year-old son Kyle Heck dances amongst 80 talented performers from around the world in the four-part spectacle Féerie.
“I’ll definitely go for Christmas if I don’t get there sooner,” she said. “I can’t wait to go. What a life. I’m jealous.”
Heck, who grew up in Okotoks, was offered a one-year contract to perform in the Moulin Rouge show in January. With his mother’s encouragement, he moved to Paris in April.
“He was debating it at one point because it’s a whole year,” she said. “I said, ‘Kyle, it’s Paris! Are you crazy?’ I don’t think he’s ever looked back.”
Heck recalls that moment of indecision like it was yesterday.
“I kind of was a little hesitant at first,” he said. “It was a long time to be away from home on the other side of the world.”
Heck said a friend encouraged him to audition last year while he was living in Vancouver. At the time he was dancing for Nickelodeon shows on television and performing at the Pacific National Exhibition.
“I didn’t really know what the Moulin Rouge was at the time,” he said. “I just thought it was all these dancers dancing on stage together.”
Heck received a letter in the mail last September stating there were no positions open for the show and two months later moved to Calgary, forgetting about Moulin Rouge.
He was surprised one morning in January to read an email offering him a contract at Moulin Rouge.
Heck was one of six new dancers joining the cast of 80 to perform in the 125-year-old world-renowned facility.
Once in Paris, Heck was thrust into daily rehearsals from noon until 4 p.m. and enjoyed his evenings dining, relaxing and touring the city.
He wasn’t prepared for the two evening performances six nights a week.
“It’s been a bit of an adjustment,” he said. “By the time we’re done getting our costumes off, make-up off, it’s about 1:30 a.m. When you get home it’s 2 and you’re still wide awake.”
The dance numbers include jazz, hip-hop, funk and a six-minute non-stop routine of the cancan, in addition to 13 costume changes in the two-hour show.
Despite the rigorous schedule, Marchand said Heck is in his element.
“The first time that he danced he was like, ‘Oh mom, it was exciting looking out and knowing that people are paying so much money to watch you,’” she said.
Heck said the 900-seat theatre is packed every night.
“I’m loving it right now,” he said. “Maybe I’ll stay for another year or two more years, who knows.”
When not on stage, Heck is enjoying the sights, tastes and culture of Paris.
“I’ve done all the main sights, but I enjoy more just going out for lunch with some friends at a nice café down the street and sitting in the park having a picnic,” he said. “This is a whole different experience living here. You have time to explore and do what they would do at the Parisian living here.”
As for the language, Heck hasn’t quite mastered it. Although he took French at Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks, it’s been eight years since his Grade 11 French class.
“You try to order something in French and they just laugh at you,” he said. “The French are very stuck up about their language.”
Heck’s love for dancing began at the age of seven when he saw his sister Amanda perform in a recital.
“I told my mom I want to do that,” he said. “She put me in dancing that year and I haven’t looked back.”
Marchand remembers one time Heck played his sister’s recital music and danced her routines perfectly. She enrolled him in the Alberta Dance Academy where he quickly picked up tap, jazz and ballet. Marchand said he was taking two dance classes at a time and excelled.
“He’s always had a love for dancing,” she said.
Heck spent four years as a professional dancer on cruise ships and though he graces the stage of Moulin Rouge almost every night his ultimate goal is to perform in the United States.
“There’s so many opportunities for dancers, not only in theatre and stage shows, but also in TV and film,” he said. “I would love to be able to experience that.”
Marchand will be there to watch him as well. She has been mesmerized by Heck’s skills on the stage from his first dance recital and could never get tired of watching her six-foot-three son perform.
“He is amazing to watch,” she said. “It’s like he was born to be on stage. From when he was young so many friends and family would say, ‘We are going to see that boy somewhere some day.’ I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished and how far he’s gone.”