Meet the Bohemians: Brittany & Giuliana

By Catherine Lambert |

It may have been dance that launched the musical theatre careers for two of the youngest performers in Moulin Rouge, but it’s the chance to tell so many different stories that continues to sustain them on stage.

Giuliana Carniato, 23, and Brittany Ford, 21, both began dance lessons when they were three years old. For Carniato, in particular, it was an inevitable career path.

“Apart from being a very dramatic person, my mum was a dance teacher, my older sister was already dancing seriously when I was three and my dad studied drama at university,’’ Carniato says.

“It’s all I’ve ever known and, especially with my sister dancing, I was obsessed with it from the start, so it was never really a choice for me. It just came naturally.’’

She grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney for the first 10 years of her life where she learnt dance technique at a local dance school but then the family moved to Coffs Harbour where she learnt about the emotions behind the steps.

That’s where she learnt the art of story telling and credits it with turning her into an artist who acts, dances and sings. She later went on to further her training at the prestigious Brent Street Studios.

Similarly, Ford, who grew up in the Sydney suburb of Minchinbury, may regard dance as her first love but also knows she brings so many other talents to the stage. 

After training at a performing arts high school, she really evolved once she entered ED5 International where she graduated in musical theatre, training in all styles of acting, dancing and singing.

“It really shaped me to be a triple threat performer which is what I always wanted to be,’’ Ford says.

“This life was the only option for me. Most people have a Plan B but I never even truly decided on this path. It was what I hoped for and so I’ve held on tight.’’

Both perform as swings in Moulin Rouge which sees them performing up to six different roles each when required to fill in for other ensemble members. It’s the first ever professional role for Ford so it’s been an overwhelming experience and she knows she’s starting at the top of the musical theatre repertoire.

“It’s been an incredible experience,’’ she says.

“Just the audition process was thrilling. No-one knew me so I didn’t have to try to be someone I’m not, just myself. All of the auditions were a euphoric process because I’d dance, sing and act from my soul and then I kept getting invited back until I got the job.

“This show is all about being an individual which I get to express so it’s perfect for me to explore that.’’

She has learnt a lot on her first show, particularly the amount of work involved for the whole company and it’s opened her eyes to the multiple layers of effort in a show this size.

“I’ve been surprised by how much work goes into putting on the whole production,’’ she says.

“It’s behind the scenes – the admin, seeing how hard the crew works, the band, the artists who paint the sets. It’s given me a new perspective of the theatre.’’

When Carniato took her first professional job in Saturday Night Fever she was 19 and didn’t even know what a ‘swing’ was until she asked her sister who explained it was a tough job. It may be tough learning various roles and going on stage sometimes at a moment’s notice, but she takes great pride in her flexibility and diverse skill set.

“What you learn early on is that it’s not about you, and that you have to be able to put your ego aside while also understanding that your role is so important because the role of the swing is so integral to the show,’’ Carniato says.

“Sometimes there’s a perception that being a swing is a secondary role but when you understand that the show often depends on you and that there’s never just one version of the show for me, there’s something very special about that.

“Sometimes it can be hard to watch everyone else on stage when you’re not on, but the thing that makes swing life a lot easier is the people you’re with and having great rapport.’’

Ford agrees that being a swing is a great experience because, covering six different roles, she has to be on top of various choreography and lines.

“I get to do a different person’s take on a role and different choreography all the time with different partners,’’ Ford says.

“Being able to uphold and fulfill that is an incredible experience. It’s one thing to rehearse off the side of the stage but to be out there doing it with everyone else is really rewarding.’’