News State Queensland Cairns woman Rhylee Hensler lands coveted Moulin Rouge spot

Cairns woman Rhylee Hensler lands coveted Moulin Rouge spot

Cairns woman Rhylee Hensler has received a rare opportunity to join the Moulin Rouge cabaret. Photo: Moulin Rouge
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It is every young dancer’s dream and has even inspired a movie — the world’s most famous cabaret, the Moulin Rouge.

But behind the make-up, feathers and crystals, it takes a lot of courage and determination, as well as hard work, to make it as a showgirl.

Rhylee Hensler, 19, recently made the move to the world’s most romantic city, Paris, to join the cabaret, far away from her home of Cairns in far north Queensland.

She was one of only three dancers to make the cut in the Australian auditions, and only a handful from across the world.

She then had just four weeks in Paris to nail down the routines for the two-hour show, Feerie, or risked being sent home.

Plenty of boxes to tick

Moulin Rouge associate artistic director Janet Pharaoh picked Ms Hensler out of dozens of dancers at the auditions in Cairns, which was the first time auditions had been held outside a capital city.

She said she had been looking for something specific, and Ms Hensler, who started dancing at age 10, ticked all the boxes.

“The girls must have strong classical dance training, be a minimum of 5 feet and 9 inches tall, but we prefer taller,” Ms Pharaoh said.

“We also like them to have super figures, very long legs and a fabulous personality.”

After being selected in Cairns, Ms Hensler was given a month-long trial in Paris and she came through with flying feathers, recently performing her first solo in the can-can.

“I feel really lucky to be here, to be in Paris. The city is just incredible,” Ms Hensler said.

“My first show on the Moulin Rouge stage was incredible, so much fun and energy, and everyone who works at Moulin is so nice and friendly.”

Hard work and late nights

Dancers work six days a week and perform two physically gruelling two-hour dance sessions a night, the first starting at 9pm.

“My normal day is I wake up around 12pm because I don’t go to sleep till 4am from work,” Ms Hensler said.

“I get up, make my breakfast, then I usually catch up with a friend for a coffee in Montmartre Paris because the coffee shops are so cute there.

“Then I explore a bit more of Paris and head home, make my lunch around 4–5pm, then I try to have a quick 30-minute nap before going into work at 6.30pm.

“I go do an hour gym session before I start to get ready for the shows.”


Dancer in the Moulin Rouge doing the splits
Ms Hensler says she’s enjoying her new life in Paris. Photo: Moulin Rouge

And then there is the language requirement.

As part of her contract, Ms Hensler is required to take French lessons, which she said were “going OK.”

As for her future, Ms Hensler said she could definitely see herself sticking around in Paris.

“My first goal was getting the can-can soloist role and I’m very lucky I got to tick that off so early,” she said.

“I can definitely see myself here for a while.

“I’m not sure what my next adventure is, but I would love to do a musical in London.”