A 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. He went on to graduate from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2005.
Joel is an ongoing performer with CHUNKY MOVE and has performed and toured 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 twelve year career spans France, Portugal and Israel 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 attempting to recreate a supposed Indigenous ‘form’, his methodology is rooted in traditional Wiradjuri ways of making work, namely durational, site-specific and cross-genre processes. His works are intimate encounters with small audiences in unorthodox spaces, in which audience-members are ‘invited in’ as co-storytellers and co-performers.
Running themes in his work include the experiences of fair-skinned Aboriginal people and the unique forms of subtle racism they face, and the experiences of contemporary gay men in an increasingly digital and isolated world. His body becomes the intersection site of those songlines- Indigenous heritage, skin-colour and queer sexuality.
Joel is black. Well, he’s white, but black. Y’know? He’s trapped in a hotel room somewhere in Melbourne; the audience trapped with him.
In this no-where-place he takes a pause, looks over his shoulder and takes a good look at his life. “Is this where I am supposed to be? Is this who I am supposed to be? What is all this? The drugs? The sex? The cigarettes?”
Loosely echoing the Wiradjuri story of the Biladurang – the platypus – this piece of dance-theatre is physical, tender, funny and dark.
Biladurang was presented at The Melbourne Fringe 2018 with support from Melbourne Fringe, CHUNKY MOVE, Arts House, Ilbijeri and the Wilin Centre. Following a sell-out season the work won three Fringe Awards including Best Performance.
Loosely based on the Ancient Greek myth of Tantalus, this work-in-development explores notions of ambition and desire, of the tantalising offer of success and the ever-present reality of failure. The research delves into Queer sexuality and our cultural obsession with (and fetishisation of) Whiteness, with Joel’s trademark self-deprecating humour, confessional and poetic writing, and textured physicality the audience is invited to participate as co-storytellers and conspirators.
Tantalus is supported by Create NSW through a Moving Ideas residency at ReadyMade Works Inc. and the Evolution Award from Arts House, Melbourne.
Machines of More (2016)
Created with Oded Ronen, Machines of More is a no-holds barred, warts-and-all look at the modern gay man searching for a mate (for life or for the night) on Grindr. The work deploys the abbreviated jargon of online hook-ups, and shines a harsh light on the genteel but ferocious one-upmanship of competition between gay men as they strive to assert their place in a brutal world of the ideal man, the ideal holiday, the ideal dinner-party and, above all, the ideal body.
Created and presented at Tmuna Theatre in the IntimaDance Festival Tel Aviv.
a sign of what will happen in the future; an omen.
"they heard the sound as an augury of death"
the interpretation of omens.
Created as Artist-in-Residence at the NAISDA Dance College, the work is a highly athletic exploration of the ongoing power of birds as bearers of news amongst contemporary Indigenous Australian peoples.
En Route (2014)
Three collaborators - Joel with Bernadette Lewis and Oded Ronen - undertake an experiment in stripping the body of habit. Three city kids go on a three day hike over various country- rocks, sandy beaches, steep inclines and through lush forest, observing their bodies and in constant conversation about their experiences. They go straight into the studio and started moving in response. The result is En Route an ongoing exploration of finding complex improvisational scores and intricate physical textures.
The research and performance was funded by Strut WA through a SEED residency.
CITRUS VANILLA PANNACOTTA ON AN OAT GRANOLA BASE WITH DRIED FRUIT AND APPLE COMPOTE (2013)
Preparation: Google “most complicated recipe”
Method: Try and choreograph it
Common Ground | Djurra – A Norpa Production
Melbourne Fringe Festival | Melbourne Fringe Awards 2017
Melbourne Fringe Festival | Fringe Was So Deadly This Year
The Urban List | 14 Shows Not To Miss At This Years Melbourne Fringe
Best Performance, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2017
Joel Bray – Biladurang
Market Ready Award, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2017
Joel Bray – Biladurang
Arts House Evolution Award, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2017
Joel Bray – Biladurang
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