Miss Burlesque New South Wales 2018 | Kael | Winner Feature
“A tribute to Josephine Joseph, Lyle Lyla and the many fabulous vaudeville and burlesque performers who came before her – this next performer will now attempt the amazing feet of dressing to impress from both sides of the floor – what?” A quizzical pause from MC Aurora Kurth as we all pondered just how this amazing feat would be possible. It was breaking my head in two and little did I know it would be breaking the next performer straight down the middle too. “Put your hands together for the glorious Kael.”
Cue raucous applause. As the introductory brass melody to Glenn Miller’s 1939 hit In The Mood rings out a spritely young gent steps onto stage and slicks back his blonde hair with a chiselled jawline awash with fine stubble and a slightly arrogant air of confidence. The handsome bastard shrugs his jacket, winks at the audience and as he begins to dance forward shimmers of sparkling fabric catch my eye. King Kael removes his jacket and takes a spin to the side to reveal a suave blonde bombshell.
The movement completely transforms, small dainty footsteps, a wiggle in the hips and a bounce of the hand to her short blonde bob. King Kael spins again and offers a leading hand of which little Miss Kael accepts and thus launches a masterfully meticulous pas du deux of impressive impersonation from both sides of the dancefloor. The classic burlesque half half – half man, half woman, executed to precision. As the layers come off, each peel reveals incredible detail from the costume down to the high kicks. Miss Kael gazes flirtatiously upwards as though staring into her dance partners eyes and the glint in her eyes shines out across the audience – a glint that has been captivating audiences since she was just three years old.
It was astounding to see Kael Murray enter Miss Burlesque Australia in 2018. We met in 2009 both performing at The Ruby Revue at the Arthouse on Sydney’s Pitt Street. I remember marvelling at her delicate micro-movements, controlled contorted breaths and the fact that I could barely breathe while watching her perform. Kael made a strong first impression which continues to resonate to this day.
A renowned professional bellydancer who burst into the Sydney burlesque scene almost a decade ago performing her unique style of tribal bellydance fusion. She has featured as sexy Luke Skywalker in Russell Beattie’s renowned production of Star Wars Burlesque and The Empire Strips Back.
I was super amazed and excited when I saw you enter Miss Burlesque Australia for 2018 – you’re an established performer and (correct me if I’m wrong) have been performing burlesque since 2008 – how did you stumble into the scene?
I initially had an interest in burlesque from watching vintage films with my mum growing up. Following that I saw a few touring shows in my hometown, Alice Springs. As soon as I moved to Sydney I began asking where I could see burlesque and cabaret shows, I managed to get enough contacts to be able to step onto the stages myself and perform bellydance and later into burlesque as ideas and characters formed that I desired to convey to an audience.
Have you ever competed in anything before (anything like eisteddfods or amateur dance comps)?
Before Miss Burlesque Australia, the other competitions that I have performed in are; Bellydance Evolution 2010, Tribal Fest Budapest 2011 and of course a few Eisteddfods growing up.
What made you want to enter Miss Burlesque New South Wales this year?
I wanted to enter Miss Burlesque New South Wales this year as a little push to get me active in my dancing and challenge me to create two original acts for myself.
You’ve been a cast member of the hugely successful Star Wars Burlesque and the Empire Strips Back – what are some of the other highlights of your performing career so far?
I love doing small cozy cabarets where the stage is hugged by the audience, upclose cabaret entertainment has always been a love of mine and opportunity for me to entertain my ideas. I can’t help but mention a few of my favorite shows with Russell S. Beattie; Jaded Vanities and Dames of Throne as well, working with and the entire cast and crew from those shows has inspired the way I want to present myself as a dancer, entertainer and professional.
How did you prepare for the competition?
In the preparations for competition I would play my tracks on repeat, as I sewed my costumes, just listening to music repeatedly makes me feel safer knowing each intonation is locked somewhere in my mind. It was a mad dash to the finish line to be honest, I underestimated how long it would take to make my half/half characters costume, and was still doing a few stitches on competition day. The results of course is that the rehearsal was not as long as I would have liked on that particular routine but I am grateful to have the opportunity to polish it up and make it even more exciting for the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final in Perth.
Tell me about your routines:
Your traditional act cleverly fused half half characteristics with the narrative of a gentleman taking a lady for a swing dance – I’m told you have a phenomenal drag king character too!?
I have so much fun when performing drag, in the true words of RuPaul, “We’re born, and the rest is drag”. I’m so happy this competition gave me the opportunity to add a little dash of my character “King Kael” to my traditional routine. I love playing two characters off each other in a routine.
Your unique was a phenomenal fawn from the underworld – it was sublime with intensely slow beauty and tiny movements where your belly dancing background really shone through – what is it about this routine that’s most important to you?
The most important thing about my unique routine for me, is that I absolutely love the track that I’m dancing to. Mojo Juju’s passionate lyricism and empathizable tone set the scene so beautifully that all I needed to create this routine was a little bit of costuming and the character wrote itself.
What was the first thing that came into your head when Memphis Mae announced you as Miss Burlesque NSW?
Beautifully, all of the MBNSW performers held hands in a circle together as the names were being announced. It was really nice to share the support that came from the other dancers, we were all in the same boat together, nervous, excited and just so glad to have completed the show at that point. The first thing that came to mind when Memphis Mae announced me as Miss Burlesque NSW, was… “What?! ..me? ..huh?!.. what! …maybe I misheard it?”… As I stared around at the girls all beaming I realised, “I mustn’t have misheard… and Oh! I had better get on stage!” I can’t remember much from that moment, it was such an honour to be recognised by the judges, audience and fellow dancers, I felt really proud.
You’d better believe that Kael is one to watch. You can follow her journey to the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final on her social media: