30 April 2024

Enjoy an evening of entertainment like no other at the National Portrait Gallery

| Jacqueline Lyons
A long haired man with a beard wearing streamers and makeup

Some of the best DJs and drag performers around, including Dandrogyny, will be going to the National Portrait Gallery on 3 May. Photo: Theresa Harrison.

In a show like no other, complete with drag, disco and comedy, the rooms and spaces of the National Portrait Gallery will transform into an explorative wonderland of dance, art, film and performance.

Inspired by First Nations stories of the dancing brolga and first staged at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2023, Brolga is a collective takeover of the gallery curated by proud Wiradjuri man and multidisciplinary artist Joel Bray, featuring First Nations and queer DJs and performing artists.

Joel says he can’t wait to bring his extravaganza to Canberra on Friday, 3 May.

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“The show in Melbourne was really successful and the National Portrait Gallery was quick to reach out to ask if I could bring the experience to Canberra,” Joel says.

“I didn’t hesitate to say yes.”

Joel says the experience is set to be one like no other. Audiences will be able to dance to the music of local and nationally recognised DJs, and there will be the opportunity to watch queer cinema while relaxing in bean bags.

There will be performances by drag queens, and arts and crafts tables will be set up for an interactive experience.

Joel will perform his part disco, part-confessional, Considerable Sexual License. It’s a provocative dance-theatre performance that blends cabaret, comedy and choreography.

Despite residing in Melbourne, Joel says he has a soft spot for Canberra.

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“I grew up in Orange and after my friends and I grew up a lot of them moved to Canberra so I love when I get the chance to come back and visit them,” Joel says.

“I’m so excited to hold another event in Canberra. The National Portrait Gallery is such a stunning building, and we can’t wait to bring such a unique experience to it,” Joel says.

“I have done a couple of shows in Canberra before; the last one we did was actually in the middle of the Australian Indigenous Voice referendum last year, which was really special. We were lucky enough to have multiple people come up and thank us for the work we do advocating for the queer First Nations community.”

Joel says he got the idea for the upcoming experience by combining his favourite things.

“I am a choreographer and a theatrical producer by trade, but I’m also a party boy, so I wanted to create something that can combine all of those things and create an experience unlike anything else,” Joel says.

man wearing black on stage

Choreographer and theatrical producer Joel Bray is excited to hold another event in Canberra, the National Portrait Gallery. Photo: Joel Bray.

“The show starts in a nightclub with a massive drag show performance to get the energy going, and from there, we’re just going to party well into the night.”

Joel is thrilled with how he and his team have curated the program and coordinated the lighting with the art surrounding it.

“I think it’s just going to look amazing.”

The DJs taking part in the extravaganza include Canberrans Bilolo and Tsotsi, Brisbane superstar Dameeela, and Melbourne’s Aqueerius. The DJs will also be joined by physical theatre practitioner Dandrogyny and conceptual performer Cerulean to ensure there is not a dull moment throughout the evening.

The National Portrait Gallery will host Brolga on 3 May at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $40 each, $36 for concession, $20 for First Nations and $50 at the door. All tickets can be purchased via National Portrait Gallery.

Original Article published by Jacqueline Lyons on Riotact.

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