Dancer gets kick out of role

By Sarah Doktor, Simcoe Reformer

A small tourist town in the Yukon takes a step back in time and pays homage to the 19th century Klondike Gold Rush.

Dawson City, Yukon is home to Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino, a gambling hall with the essence of the saloons made popular during the 1890's complete with Gerties' Saloon girls performing can-can numbers. The casino takes you on a trip through time.

Courtney Deelen of Delhi had no idea what she was in for when she auditioned to be a dancer at Diamond Tooth Gerties. She figured it would be a typical casino dance show like the one she had worked at in Windsor at Caesars' Palace Casino. But when they asked her to do a kick-line during the audition she thought to herself, "this is weird."

It was only after she was offered the position she realized the job was not in Toronto. The job meant moving to the Yukon for a little over five months. After deciding to take the offer she missed the last two weeks of school and traded wearing her graduation hat for feathers and fishnets.

At Gerties she performed three shows a night, five days a week. The show is set in the 1800s and gets increasingly risqué as the night progresses.

"It's a lot of fun," said Deelen.

She said the first show of the night is rather "'s a fun light-hearted show." The second gets to be more modern with jazz elements added in along with the can-cans. It is during the third show of the night "where the hair comes down," said Deelen. It is during this show that Deelen performed acrobatics while hanging from silk ropes.

Along with the cast of dancers there are singers, a piano player and drummer. Deelen said the sound from the two musicians "fills the place."

Dawson City has strict regulations in place to keep the city historically accurate.

"People go there because of the tourism," said Deelen. "They want to feel like they were the first people there panning for gold."

"It's very surreal," said Deelen. "It's very quaint; it's refreshing."

Deelan performed at Gerties for two seasons, finishing this past September. She currently lives in Toronto and has joined a talent agency. She is hoping to expand her career into television and film.

Sarah Doktor

519-426-3528 ext. 112