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From Central Queensland to the Moulin Rouge in Paris

Sarah Brehon backstage at the Moulin Rouge in one of her many costumes.
Sarah Brehon backstage at the Moulin Rouge in one of her many costumes. Contributed

MOVING to Paris at 18 was both exciting and frightening for Sarah Brehon, who was offered the role of a lifetime back in 2005.

Eleven years on and the newly married Rockhampton girl is still dancing with the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

Sarah was working in the can-can line and mastering lead roles when terror attacks rocked her new home city .

Although there had been other terrorist attacks Sarah said there hadn't been any mass shootings to such an extreme in France before.

"The risk of an attack was always on my mind when I used public transport or walked near main monuments but since the Paris attacks, nothing seems off limits," she said.

Sarah said she was not in Paris at the time but many of her family and friends contacted her to check she was ok.

"My husband arrived into Paris the morning after the attacks. He remembers the streets being empty and seeing at least 25 military standing guard in front of public institutions, which was very confronting."

DANCING STAR : Sarah Brehon warms up backstage before a show at the Moulin Rouge
DANCING STAR : Sarah Brehon warms up backstage before a show at the Moulin Rouge Contributed

"When I returned to Paris, I remember seeing a large group of military in the street and I felt very uneasy," she said.

"Even though they were there to give us a sense of protection and safety and to show the power and strength of France, it made me feel that the threat may be even greater than we can imagine."

Sarah said she didn't have any close friends present at the locations of the attacks on November 13 but knew dozens of people who did.

"It seems that everyone living in Paris today knows someone who has been affected by a loss of family or friends. It is devastating."

"After the attacks, France declared a state of emergency which continues until February."

Sarah Brehon and fellow Australian dancer Adelaide Coghlan on tour with the Moulin Rouge
Sarah Brehon and fellow Australian dancer Adelaide Coghlan on tour with the Moulin Rouge Contributed

Sarah said the Moulin Rouge, schools, and tourist sites were all closed for at least one day following the attacks.

"There has been an impact ... but things are getting back to normal now and tourists seem to be returning to the city of lights."

Sarah said security had been increased all over Paris. "I went to the cinema two weeks after the attacks and had to open my coat and my bag in order to enter; I have to admit I was not entirely relaxed while watching the movie."

"People have definitely made the effort to be out in public and show that they will not allow the fear to control their daily lives…I cannot live in fear, I just have to live my life normally and that is all that we can do."

Topics:  moulin rouge, paris, rockhampton, sarah brehon




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