Sharyne Jewell is a performer, choreographer and dance educator (as well as an award-winning artist). Sheryne runs Dance Like A Diva classes and workshops. Her performance career spans over 40 years and has taken her to the UK, Europe and the US where she has performed with iconic entertainers like Sylvester, Divine and Prince and at venues like the Casino De Paris. Over the decades, Sharyne has performed under many names and embodied many characters and many dance genres.
Sharyne said “I am passionate about using dance, in particular burlesque, to empower people to feel beautiful, sexy, strong and valid regardless of their shape, size, race, gender, age and experience.”
“I believe as Marilyn Monroe famously said “We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.”
Q: Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Melbourne.
Q: What and who were your influences growing up?
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by Marilyn Monroe. As a younger performer, I was often asked to “do Marilyn” in shows in Europe and America. Initially, I didn’t think much of Marilyn as I accepted the blonde bimbo media persona. The more I read and learnt of her over the years the more I grew to love and respect her as the iconic, game-changing woman she was. I went on to direct and produce the world’s first Marilyn Monroe Festival.
Q: What was the path you took (in career/life) that lead you to the Parkes Elvis Festival and what brings you back?
I initially attended the Parkes Elvis Festival in 2017 with friends who share my passion for vintage and for 50s style. I have loved Elvis’ music since I was a teen and often used it in performances so it seemed like an excellent idea. I had a wonderful time that first year but I noticed that there weren’t many activities for those people who love Elvis but may not want to watch Elvis Tribute artists.
After my initial visit, I spoke with then director Kathy about the possibility of bringing the kind of workshops and shows that had been successful at my Marilyn Monroe Festival to Parkes. Kathy welcomed the idea of vintage showgirl, burlesque and Marilyn workshops.
As a dancer nearing 60 years of age, I have had to continuously reinvent myself to keep performing. Dance is notoriously a youthful pursuit. In recent years, I have turned to drag as a vehicle for my creativity and love of performing. This paid off when my character, Elle Virus, was selected to be one of the hosts of WorldPride 2023. And for the first time in Parkes Elvis Festival history Elle Virus will be hosting Drag King Trivia!!! You can celebrate “The King” with a drag king!
Last year we started Stretch To Elvis classes using many of the beautiful ballads of Elvis to relax and unwind. These were a hit at the last festival and are happening again this year. People party hard and these classes are a great way to rejuvenate for the next day of revelling in Elvis!
What brings me back each year is the sense of fun and celebration of the festival. It attracts all ages, social groups and cultures and often some rather kooky Elvis fans and I love that. Mostly, I return for the festival regulars who attend my workshops and shows every year. I am enormously thankful for their enduring support.
Q. Give us a shout out to the people of Parkes or the Festival goers?
I have three big shout outs for the beautiful people of Parkes.
Firstly, all my events this year are happening at the Parkes Services Club. I want to give a huge shout out to Chloe and the Services Club team. Chloe has demonstrated a strong commitment to embracing inclusivity and diversity. I appreciate her allyship and support greatly.
My second shout out is to Krista Wakefield and the Federation Motel. Krista and her team take care of us every year and make the stay in Parkes perfect.
Lastly, and most importantly, huge thanks to local business Colouby Creations. Kristy Berry has supported me from the start. I cannot imagine a Parkes Elvis festival without her. She really is the life force of Parkes.
Q. If you had to pick an Elvis song that lifts the crowd more than any other what would it be?
I find the cabaret and burlesque audiences respond best to the sexier Elvis songs like Steamroller Blues, Reconsider Baby and of course my personal anthem Trouble. My private favourites are inspirational songs like Walk A Mile In My Shoes and If I Can Dream