Dance review: Barrowland Ballet – Whiteout (4 stars)

Review: Barrowland Ballet: Whiteout

Alienation danced away by family love

Barrowland Ballet, under the artistic direction of choreographer Natasha Gilmore, has successfully straddled various genres, including community orientated productions like The River; work for children, including Tiger Tale; to this ambitious and deeply personal exploration of bi-racial relationships.

Based on Gilmore’s own experience, and featuring her two children in a charming video interlude, Whiteout is unafraid to express difficulties but resolves into a triumphant celebration of love and family unity.

As part of Tramway’s Dance International Glasgow festival, Whiteout is a reminder of the strength of Scotland’s own dance scene: Gilmore’s choreography is an eclectic mix of street dance, balletic elegance and contemporary techniques, allowing the strong ensemble to conjure an on-stage multi-cultural community.

Thanks to Luke Sutherland’s eclectic score, which matches drum’n’bass, pop and the dynamic rock which references his time collaborating with Mogwai, the diversity of movement and cultures is matched by the music, and the episodic structure follows the dancers’ journeys from alienation through to joy.

The central scenes, which are projected onto screens, feature the two children dancing with the cast: the playfulness and candour of the film shift the mood from the disjointed, angst-ridden introduction to a more celebratory atmosphere. With each dancer bringing a particular charisma and presence, Gilmore’s vision of multi-culturalism is inspiring. Individuality is not lost in the ensemble, with fragments of African, Scottish and Asian music and dance competing as part of a coherent whole.

Aside from the pleasure of the bodies moving happily to the beat – and the inevitable cuteness of the children – Gilmore’s choreography tells a positive and redemptive story of how love can heal the wounds of isolation, in a manner sensual, dynamic and inclusive.

Whiteout is at various venues until Sat 16 May.

Barrowland Ballet: Whiteout

Barrowland Ballet present a work responding to personal stories about biracial white British/black African children. Choreographed by Natasha Gilmore.