Joel Bray has established himself as a contemporary dancer and choreographer both nationally and internationally. The Melbourne-based artist and proud Wiradjuri man began dancing at age 20, leaving a Law Degree to start training in traditional Aboriginal and Contemporary dance forms at NAISDA Dance College. Explaining:
“It wasn’t so much dance I was interested in, it was being in a community of Black people, for the first time, being surrounded by other Aboriginal people for the first time and learning about my roots.”
Joel then went to Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) graduating in 2005.
In creating and choreographing, Joel is inspired by his Wiradjuri cultural heritage allowing this to inform a new method of creation, rather than recreate a supposed Indigenous ‘form’. Alongside explorations of the experience for fair-skinned Aboriginal people and the racism they can face, Joel navigates the experience for gay men in a world of digital isolation. Often his works are intimate encounters, an experience between the performer and audience member where each party have a role to play in the storytelling and performance. For example, his recent work Biladurang, set in a hotel room, which was programmed as part of Brisbane Festival 2018 and will next appear as part of Sydney Festival 2019.
Joel is an performer with Chunky Move (AUS), appearing 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 has been commission as part of Next Move 11 with Dharawungara. This work is a collision of rituals where the audience is invited to reimagine the theatre as a ceremonial ground of light and sound, as Joel explores how to breath life into this Wiradjuri rite he has only ever read about.
In conversation Joel talked about his twelve year career, spanning France, Portugal, Israel and Australia with Chunky Move, 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 has been co-commissioned by the Performance Space and Yirramboi Festival to make a new work entitled Candy from Strangers for 2019. Joel was nominated for Best Performer in 2017 at the Australian Dance Awards and is a member of the Melbourne Greenroom Awards Dance Jury.
“Dance has the ability to take the moment and to expand that out, so you can almost, you can take one or a few things, and really pull them apart and really understand them. […] Dance allows the possibility for authentic human to human encounters; that I think are becoming more and more precious in this digital world.”
Joel is currently performing Dharawungara as part of Chunky Move’s Next Move Season, alongside Lauren Langlois. Find out more and to buy tickets here. More about Joel can be found at https://www.joelbraydance.com/