Whiteout, a dance theatre piece from Barrowland Ballet, one of Scotland’s most exciting and successful contemporary dance companies, gives resonance to the complexities of bi-racial relationships and mixed race children. Informed by personal experience from her marriage and as the mother of bi-racial children, choreographer Natasha Gilmore explores this issue with intrigue and humour. The work is accompanied with original music by Luke Sutherland and dramaturgy by Candice Edmunds.
Six dancers, three male – two black, one white; three female – one black, one Taiwanese, one white, explore the themes of bi-racial relationships.
Luke Sutherland’s eclectic original music, moves between drum ‘n’ bass, pop, rock, and classical music, portraying the diversity of movement and cultures. It’s a complex score, high-octane and grating in places, that challenges the audience’s senses but perhaps is an analogy for the complexities of mixed-race relationships and the challenges that come with them.
The choreography is a mix of street dance, graceful balletic moves, contemporary, and tribal dance, allowing the dancers to distinguish their multi-cultural backgrounds, yet show their unity in a shared love of dance.
The central scenes, which use multi-media and are projected onto screens, feature Gilmore’s two cute children dancing with the cast. The playfulness and simplicity of the film shifts the mood from the disjointed, angst-ridden, challenging introduction to a more light-hearted, celebratory atmosphere, injecting light and shade into the piece to explain the theme of this dance work.
The ethnicity of each dancer is explored through their individual dance styles, with African, Scottish, and Asian music and dance coming together to show the uniqueness of their cultures and their differences. The multi-media element injects some welcome humour into the whole piece and shows there are no barriers where children are concerned. They interact innocently with the adults no matter what or who they are, in a playful manner.
It’s a brave piece that will challenge the majority of the audience with its eclectic score, yet a dedicated fan of this type of work will find it worthy of consideration.