Image: Pippa Samaya


Joel Bray Dance

What if we lived in an Australia at peace with itself and confident in its culture and identity? Where everyone who lives on Wiradjuri country, participates in Wiradjuri ceremonies led by our Law/Lore-men and Law/Lore-women? What would an Indigenous-led citizenship ceremony look like? Can we imagine a future society that puts Aboriginal spirituality, ceremony and Law/Lore at the centre of our civic lives?


Burbang is the Men’s Initiation Ceremony of the Wiradjuri nation; my ancestral people through my father. Burbang is a labour of love that I have been researching, conceptualising and choreographing since 2018.

Burbang has been informed by archival research from white anthropologist R.H Mathews, discussion with Wiradjuri Elders, and my own choreographic investigation.

Like all ceremony, there is no audience in this ritual, only participants and witnesses; Burbang will include my trademark audience engagement extending the investigations in my previous works Biladurang and Daddy.


Burbang is a festival work for communities of all ages. Grand, atmospheric, contemporary, sad and cathartic, Burbang gives audiences licence and authority to make decisions around how they engage and participate in a new future and a celebration of a future ceremony.

Burbang is created for all people; they are all initiates in a contemporary ceremony created to give a sense of wonder, and to pay reverence to those rites that we intuitively know, even when they appear lost.



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 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, Dance Massive and Auckland Arts Festival.

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, Liveworks and Arts Centre Melbourne for Midsumma.

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