Interview: choreographer Natasha Gilmore on site-specific, 150-person production The River
The show uses a multi-generational cast to explore themes of immigration and emigration, as part of the Commonwealth Games
Never let it be said that Natasha Gilmore is afraid of hard work. In recent years, the choreographer has stepped outside the conventions of dance creation on more than one occasion – but The River could be her biggest challenge yet.
Set along the banks of the River Clyde, the site-specific show will feature 75 dancers, only eight of whom are professionally trained. The rest, like the 75 singers accompanying them, are drawn from all walks of life. Working with a community cast has served Gilmore well in the past, so for The River, which explores the joys and heartaches of emigration and immigration, it was the perfect choice.
‘A lot of the time, professional dancers are of a certain age and look – but we wanted to show that these stories are everybody’s stories,’ says Gilmore. ‘And by having a cast of people who are able to express that, it brings an honesty to the performance and a richness to the work, that you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.’
Starting at the Briggait, the musicians, singers and dancers will lead audiences along the river, performing as they go. In the interest of authenticity, Gilmore has recruited everyone from school children to pensioners to bring the show to life.
‘We interviewed people about their experiences of emigrating to, or coming from, a Commonwealth country,’ she explains. ‘And embedded in those stories were relationships with their families and the heartbreak of leaving or returning, which translates brilliantly into having an inter-generational cast, to represent the idea of being part of a family.’
The Briggait, Glasgow, Sun 20 & Mon 21 Jul