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MY TOWN | Prima Ballerina

Prima Ballerina

Katelyn Adams

By Marc Skulnick

  • Photography by David Hirsh; styling by Carol Campbell of Hanleys; hair & makeup by Imperial Style Group; clothing by Hanleys.

It's not often that Hamilton and Paris are mentioned in the same breath, unless you're talking about the Paris northwest of Brantford. However, there's only one Paris that is home to Moulin Rouge, and Ancaster's Katelyn Adams is about to become the first Hamiltonian (and Canadian) to tread the boards of the storied nightclub.

Raised in Ancaster, Adams trained at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts and went on to Toronto's Ryerson University, where she studied under National Ballet of Canada legend Nadia Potts.

Degree in hand, Adams sailed the world for three years, performing on cruise ships throughout much of Europe, South America, the Caribbean and even Alaska. It was during her initial stint on a cruise ship in 2007 that a fellow performer put the idea of Moulin Rouge into Adams' head.

"She was the one who said that I should look into auditioning for the Moulin," recounts Adams. "She thought my look, my height and my flexibility would be perfect for Moulin Rouge, and she even helped me create an audition reel."

Although the Moulin mistresses professed a liking for the talented Hamiltonian, they didn't have a spot open and, in show business parlance, promised to "be in touch." ing Undeterred, Adams continued dancing on various seafaring vessels and eventually flew over to Paris in 2009 for a private audition. How's that for pressure?

"My audition was during a rehearsal, with the girls that were new and learning the show," explains Adams. "The head ballet mistress was watching me and as it turns out, they liked me."

Incredibly, however, despite her audition, Adams heard a familiar refrain: they simply didn't have a spot open. Once again, they promised to be in touch.

By summer 2011, Adams had returned home and settled into a career at Hanleys, the Ancasterbased family business.

"I was working at Hanleys, we were opening a new location and I was going to take on the activewear there," explains Adams. "I'd gotten into a new space mentally, I had a boyfriend and I was ready to settle down."

Plans for domestic bliss came to an abrupt halt when Adams received an email from Moulin Rouge, inviting her to an audition in Toronto. Adams once again impressed, and left with a promise of further correspondence in the near future. You guessed it — they would be in touch.

Was she disappointed? Frustrated? Angry? None of the above, according to Adams.

"It was more a case of, 'I've done everything I can do,'" says Adams. "I've auditioned three times and if it's not going to happen this time, then it's not in the cards."

Months passed and in February of this year, in one of those "when you least expect it…" moments, the folks at Moulin Rouge emailed to inquire as to Adams' availability. In other words, would she still be interested in dancing at the worldfamous Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris? What's that expression about the Pope and his hat?

Much deliberation ensued, but when the offer of a one-year contract popped into her inbox, Adams was quick to accept. With her Moulin dreams finally becoming a reality, Adams had less than two months to refocus her life with an eye to starting fresh in a city where English isn't the native tongue, dollars aren't the national currency and fellow Hamiltonians will be in very short supply.

Adding to the buzz surrounding her Parisian adventure is the French camera crew that's been following her for a documentary to be broadcast on national TV in France, culminating in Opening Night on May 5th.

Adams' new life is sure to be one of glamour and excitement — how could it not be? It's Paris,after all — but it's family members Adams says she'll miss the most.

"No matter where my career takes me, I always know I'm going to come back home," professes Adams. "This is where my family is, this is where my home is.

"I'm so blessed that I can travel the world for these experiences and know that I'll always have the support of my family back home."