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Joel Bray

Jul 03, 2021
Image caption: Joel Bray. Credit: Pippa Samaya.n.

Joel Bray


Melbourne-based artist Joel Bray is a proud Wiradjuri man. He began dancing at age 20 in traditional Aboriginal and Contemporary dance forms at NAISDA Dance College and went on to graduate from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2005. Joel has performed with CHUNKY MOVE, touring in Complexity of Belonging and An Act of Now, and with Anouk van Dijk and Falk Richter in their production Safe Places at the Frankfurt Schauspielhaus.

Joel’s fourteen-year career spans France, Portugal and Israel having performed with Jean-Claude Gallotta, Company CeDeCe, Kolben Dance, Machol Shalem Dance House, Yoram Karmi’s FRESCO Dance Company, Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor and Roy Assaf.

Joel’s choreographic practice springs from his Wiradjuri cultural heritage. Rather than recreating an Indigenous ‘form’, his methodology is rooted in traditional Wiradjuri ways of making work; namely durational, site-specific and cross-artform processes. His works engender intimate encounters with audiences who are ‘invited in’ as co-storytellers and co-performers. Joel’s works are informed by his body, his experience, and the intersection of songlines including his Indigenous heritage, skin-colour and queer sexuality.

Joel’s first work when returning to Australia, Biladurang (2017) at Melbourne Fringe Festival, won three awards. Based on the traditional story of the platypus, Biladurang has toured to Darwin Festival, Brisbane Festival, Sydney Festival and Dance Massive.

Dharawungara (2018) created for Chunky Move’s Next Move season began an initial investigation into Wiradjuri rituals as recorded by white anthropologists and has spurred a series of deeper investigations.

Daddy (2019) — a personal investigation into desire, fetishization and colonisation — was commissioned by YIRRAMBOI Festival, Performance Space and Arts House, and has been presented at Brisbane Festival and Liveworks.

Joel’s two new works in development: Considerable Sexual Licence for Speakeasy/ City of Darebin, and BURBANG, extend his research and practice into collective participation, civic rites, contemporary performance and traditional ceremony.

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