I don’t know how (to decolonise myself)
Rajni Shah, with Alex Tálamo and Victoria Hunt

Performance Space and Critical Path are excited to announce Rajni Shah as the recipient of the 2018 Experimental Choreographic Residency. Over her three-week residency at Critical Path, Rajni will work with Alex Tálamo and Victoria Hunt to explore the entwining of colonisation and choreography.

I don’t know how (to decolonise myself) brings together three experienced artists from different cultural and artistic backgrounds who share an urgent desire to ask what it would mean to decolonise the body, when the body has been tightly choreographed by colonial value-systems.

This project questions the ways in which time and space are allocated, received, and valued within choreographic practices. In response, the residency will work through creating a space and time that allows for care, support, and vulnerability, while challenging the ways in which audiences might approach the work. The idea is not to make a coherent piece of choreography, but to interrupt, challenge, and contest the assumptions embedded in terms like ‘choreography’ or ‘innovation’ or ‘experimental’.

The artists will begin by asking how colonisation lives within our very bodies, how it dictates our patterns of movement, even physically shaping the body, before we have begun to move. For each of the artists, this entwining of colonisation and choreography takes a different form – so their questions sit in relationship to each other, but are not the same as each other. The choreography that emerges will not be held by a hierarchical structure, but by parallel processes. It will be: plural, dispersed, non-prescribed, difficult, breaking, defiant of stereotype.



Rajni Shah is a British/Indian artist who has been making performance since 1999. Her work ranges from intimate encounters with passers-by in public space to large-scale performances in theatres and galleries. She has performed in the UK, Australia, Europe and USA, including the National Review of Live Art, British Council showcase, Alternate ROOTS, Tanzquartier Wien, CIFAS Brussels, Nuffield Lancaster, SpielArt Munich, Performance Space Sydney, and the Barbican London. From 2005-2012 Rajni worked with other artists to create a trilogy of large-scale performance works exploring moments of cultural identity and alienation (Mr Quiver, Dinner with America, and Glorious) and alongside this a series of public interventions exploring interactions between strangers, entitled small gifts. From 2013 to 2017, Rajni stopped making performance and instead conducted research towards a PhD at Lancaster University, entitled We are capable of so much more: Experiments in Listening. She is currently living in Sydney, Australia, and working with Urban Theatre Projects on Feminist Killjoys Reading Group – a Right Here. Right Now. commission.

Alex Tálamo is a performance artist whose work explores cultural constructions of national identity, focusing on migrant and feminist perspectives, and incorporating family history, memory and mythologies. Her investigation reframes these performances of nationality through a lens that intersects art, ritual and the body, paying close attention to the slippery, in-between and undocumented ways in which we understand identity. Alex studied at VCA, completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance Creation, and at UNSW, completing Honours in Performance Studies. She was part of the Australia Council for the Arts’ Cultural Leaders of the Future program and was an Emerging Cultural Leader at FCAC. Her work has been shown as part of the Venice International Performance Art Week: Prologue I, Performance Studies international: Performance Climates, Art + Activism month at FCAC and Metanoia’s Live Works program. She is a current PhD candidate in Creative Practice at UNSW.

Victoria Hunt is an Australian born dancer-choreographer and performance maker. Her work is philosophically liminal, intercultural and situated within the Pacific diaspora. Her work explores the role of women’s ceremonial law and contemporary Indigenous politics, supported by a range of artists, elders and communities that are collaborators in the creation of her work. Her tribal affiliations are to Te Arawa, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kahungunu Maori, English, Irish and Finnish. Victoria has a Bachelor of Visual Arts – Majoring in Photography (Griffith University, QLD) and a Post Grad Honours in Performance Studies (UNSW). She is a founding member of the Body Weather performance ensemble, De Quincey Co since 1999, performing in over 40 productions and is co-curator of The Weather Exchange.