At first, there’s a torrent of chaos and uncertainty. Hurtling their bodies around the dark, dry-iced space, the six dancers communicate physically what’s going on emotionally.
The movement itself is a blend of contemporary dance dipped in streetdance and African. As an opener, it scarcely hints at the joy that is to come – but that’s all part of the beauty of choreographer Natasha Gilmore’s work.
Whiteout was inspired by Gilmore’s own experience of being part of a biracial marriage and family. As a white, British woman she found herself treated differently (aka better) than her black African husband – while her biracial children provoked looks or comments. During the show’s creation, however, Gilmore discovered parallels in other parts of life. So Whiteout became not only a statement about race, but an acknowledgement of anyone who has been judged for what they are, not who they are, be that through race, gender, sexuality.
Consequently, there’s something wonderfully universal about the frustration, anger, happiness and desire for human connection on stage. Six performers of diverse heritage start as isolated strangers and end as friends – but it’s not an easy ride. Gilmore’s choreography really comes into its own during the times of displacement and confusion, but she also has something lighter and wonderfully entertaining to offer.
Film footage, capturing Gilmore’s two young sons interacting with the dancers, is both touching and inventive. The sheer happiness of the moment shines through, but so too does the cleverness of the movement.
Then we’re off to a party, where the only difference that matters, the only one worth celebrating – cultural – comes alive on the dance floor. A beautiful metaphor for tolerance, acceptance and belonging while hanging on to your own sense of identity.
Until 27 August. Today 5pm.