Dance Territories is Dancehouse's biennial program presented in association with Melbourne Festival. The innovative premise of Dance Territories, now in its third edition, is to pair an independent Australian with an international artist in a double-bill, creating a multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural dialogue in relation to a shared theme.


PLACE - the places we come from, the places we find ourselves, the places we dream of and the borders between them, shape and define our identity. The 2016 edition of Dance Territories, BORDER LINES, focuses on the relationship of 'body' to 'border', explicitly exploring the impact migration, circulation, invasion and dis-location has had, and continues to have, on personal and cultural identity.



Durational performance and installation

In The River's Children and Take this for it is my body, Sarah-Jane Norman collapses the personal into the political, exploring the impact Australia's brutal colonial history has had on their particular body - the body of the artist, their 'performing' body, in front of the spectator's 'watching' body.

In The River's Children, the audience are invited to contribute white articles of clothing to the washing baskets placed in the corner of a laundry-like room. Periodically, Norman washes the white clothing in the water of the Murray River, which runs through their own ancestral country, and is also the site of some of the earliest and most violent clashes between free settlers and First Australians. As the clothes are hung out to dry, they 
catch the light of two slide projectors that display a series of texts remembering the sites and times of indigenous massacres.

For Take this, for it is my body, the artist infuses a basic scone mixture with their own blood, before baking the scones and offering them to the audience - referencing Christian rituals and belief systems as well as the equally hallowed ritual of a farmhouse afternoon tea. The performance deliberately stages a provocative choice, but leaves that choice in our hands.

These two works dissolve the borders between dance, live art and sculpture to examine the affects of first contact and the ongoing conflict between Australia's Indigenous and people and their colonisers.



"A movement that goes from the intimate to the surface, until it disappears. A path that constantly uses each one of my pieces, but maybe this one will not go further, it stands there, it contains the shout and ends with it […] The shout is when the anchor does not let go." - Nacera Belaza

"Nacera Belaza magnificently succeeds in captivating us through her remorseless demanding, her unremitting quest for a genuine writing of the movement. Nothing is left to chance or to approximation. Exact timing. No useless pictures. And a soundtrack of rare intelligence." - Agnès Izrine, Danser, July 2008

The Shout is a duet performed by Nacera Belaza and her sister that observes the interplay between sacred ritual and globalization. In the repetition of gesture and the elongation of time, Nacera Belaza's pieces all explore movement as one would explore a calm and continuous breath. Belaza's power resides in the intensity of the seemingly insignificant, allowing for an experience of the sensible and revealing an astounding poetry, evoking imagery in the absence of representation.

Choreography: Nacera Belaza

Performance: Nacera Belaza, Dalila Belaza
Light: Éric Soyer

Sound Design: Christophe Renaud
Sound and Video Conception: Nacera Belaza


RUNTIME: 2hrs 15 min with interval

5pm-7pm - installation only

WHERE: All spaces, Dancehouse – partially wheelchair accessible
COST: $40 F | $35 C | $30 DH Member | $25 Student | $12 Installation Only

Read more about the previous edition of Dance Territories

Read more about Melbourne Festival


Sarah-Jane Norman  is a cross-disciplinary artist and writer. Their work traverses performance, installation, sculpture, text, video and sound. Live performance remains the core of their practice: working with extended duration, task-based, and endurance practices, as well as intimate/one-to-one frameworks, Norman's primary medium is the body: the body as a spectacle of truth and a theatre of fantasy; a siphon of personal and collective memory; an organism with which we are infinitely familiar and eternally estranged; a site which is equally loaded and empty of meaning, where histories, narratives, desires and discourses converge and collapse. An alumna of Sydney's PACT Centre for Emerging Artists (where they first began training with Christopher Ryan in 2003), Norman's artistic trajectory has been informed by numerous practices, disciplines and methodologies. Beginning their career as an ensemble performer in both scripted and devised theatre, they also studied a variety of physical disciplines including Suzuki Method, Feldenkrais and Bodyweather. Whilst not actively identifying as a dancer or choreographer, their practice nonetheless remains strongly informed by dance practice and theory. They trained for several years in Dance Improvisation and Bodyweather with Dancer/Choreographer Martin Del Amo, also with DeQuincey Co, and following that travelled to Japan where they trained intensively in Butoh, first with with Akaji Maro and his company Dairakudakan and later with Yoshito Ohno at the Kazuo Ohno studio. In order to service the increasingly object-focused direction of their work, Norman went to London in 2014, where they studied Jewellery and Silversmithing at Central St Martin's School of Art and Design. In June 2015, they participated in Marina Abramovic: In Residence. They have presented their work at Venice International Performance Week (IT), Spill Festival of Live Art (UK), Fierce Festival (UK), In Between Time (UK), Arnolfini (UK), Performance Space, Sydney (AU, Next Wave (AU) and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AU), Edinburgh Festival (UK) and Brisbane International Festival (AU) to name a few. A proud Indigenous Australian of both Wiradjuri and European heritage, they grew up in Sydney and Regional NSW, have lived in the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany, and currently divides their time between Berlin and Regional NSW.

Nacera Belaza was born in Algeria and has been living in France since the age of five. On completion of her studies in modern literature at the Université de Reims, she created her own dance company in 1989. She enters dance as a self-taught interpreter and develops a choreography that originates in an inner progress, a sensible awareness of the body, of space and of the emptiness inside herself. Her path resembles a quest and tends towards the enhancement of the direct bond between the dancer and the spectator, open to the infinite of the stage. Each element of her works - light, space, time, the body - respond to each other on stage and develop their own designs.

Compagnie Nacera Belaza presents its pieces internationally with a regular presence in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. In France, it is regularly invited by prestigious venues and festivals such as the Festival Montpellier Danse (2003, 2006, 2012, 2014), the Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis (2008, 2010), the Festival d'Avignon (2009, 2012) or the Biennale de la danse de Lyon (2010, 2014). Nacera Belaza's desire to share and pass on has become focused on the relationship between the audiences and their territories. She develops outreach activities and choreographic creations which take multiple shapes, going from the Master Class to the in situ performance. Nacera Belaza's path has continually maintained a coming and going between Algeria and France. Concurrently with her company's activities in France, she has founded an artistic cooperative in Algeria.


Unsettling Suite - was the major Visual Arts commission for Performance Space's 2013 program Matters of Life and Death. This production was made with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts.

THE SHOUT – Produced by Compagnie Nacera Belaza in coproduction with Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, Le Forum Blanc-Mesnil, AARC , French Embassy in Algeria with in-kind space support from Val-de-Marne Dance Biennale,  Caen - Basse-Normandie National Choreographic Centre, Créteil National Choreographic Centre, Paris National Dance Centre, Cité internationale des arts. With support from DRAC Ile-de-France, Région Ile-de-France, Conseil général de la Seine-Saint-Denis, Association Beaumarchais, Culturesfrance / Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ONDA.

BORDER LINES has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Image credits: Sarah-Jane Norman by Phebe Schmidt for Dancehouse; Nacera Belaza by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse