NATASHA Gilmore had big plans for 2020.

She was going to take her acclaimed dance company Barrowland Ballet (and her three young children) on a world tour, working with different artists in each country to make a video installation called Family Portrait.

It was going to be an up-close-and-personal look at life as a single mother, as much an emotional journey as it was a geographical one, establishing connections with performers around the globe.

“And then Covid began, and everything else stopped,” laughs the awardwinning dancer, internationally respected choreographer and mother-of-three.

“As preparation, I’d spent some time doing research and development with choreographer Robbie Synge in the Highlands and we had such a brilliant time, I thought – why don’t we just set the whole thing in rural Scotland?”

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait is the result, filmed outdoors during lockdown, with Natasha’s own family ‘unit’ – Otis, 10, Iggy, nine, and five-year-old Frieda.

It is still a personal look at life through a mother’s eyes, and a funny and moving portrayal of family, warts and all – but it is also a celebration of nature and Scotland as a whole.

“We all got a lot closer to nature in lockdown, I think,” smiles Natasha, who lives on the south side.

“I know we did, as a family, getting out for walks every day, going to Pollok Park, climbing trees… and that’s something we will definitely continue once things go back to normal.

“Being at home, without tours and premieres, has been healthier for us in lots of ways.”

The video installation is full of beautiful scenery.

Natasha explains: “The Highlands is such an amazing landscape, I wanted to capture that in the piece. I have toured a lot in the area, but usually I’m in venues, in the darkness.”

She smiles: “It was nice to be outside this time. It’s so beautiful. And the kids loved it.”

Natasha Gilmore. Photograph by Colin Mearns.

Natasha Gilmore. Photograph by Colin Mearns.

Adhering to Government guidelines at all times, Family Portrait will be shown at Tramway this weekend (May 22 and 23) before moving through to Edinburgh’s International Children’s Festival, from May 28 to June 5.

Audiences will see the family through choreographed sequences and more natural ‘off camera’ moments as they encounter the many different landscapes of Scotland.

With space to roam, the children discover rabbit skulls, converse with spiders, make war paint with berries and discover the fun of burying their mother in bark.

“It’s being shown on four screens, so audiences will see these beautiful Scottish landscapes, and get to know us and the environment at the same time,” says Natasha, adding with a laugh:

“Some of it is choreographed, but some of it is much more – candid. So it’s honest, a real picture of family life and chaos.”

Barrowland Ballet is one of Scotland’s most exciting and successful contemporary dance companies built around the artistic work of choreographer Natasha Gilmore.

The company produces high quality, accessible dance theatre performances which tour nationally and internationally.

It also runs Wolf Pack, a free, intergenerational dance company in Glasgow with participants aged from seven to 80 years old.

The group has continued via Zoom and sessions outside in a local playground during lockdown.

“The work I do boils down to the cycle of life, and how that feeds into our communities and experiences,” explains Natasha.

“I try to balance things across ages and stories, so that they are mutually inspiring.

“Nearly all of it is about family.”

READ MORE: Tron Theatre cancels panto for the second time because of Covid rules

Natasha grew up in London, where she trained as a junior associate of The Royal Ballet School at Sadler’s Wells, then Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts and at Laban.

She moved to Glasgow to take up a residency at the city’s now defunct Dance House, and never left.

“Glasgow is such a vibrant city, with so much going on, and dance is so connected to everything else, which is brilliant,” she says. “I stayed, had children here – it’s home.”

Much of Barrowland Ballet’s work is for young people.

“In the UK, contemporary dance is still considered a marginal art form, yet children’s theatre, whether it has a dance element or not, does not have the same stigma,” says Natasha.

“I think it’s really useful if children start to see dance at a young age, and build up that relationship with it as they get older.

“I enjoy the challenge of making work for different audiences, of honing work so that every member of the family can watch and experience the same thing but get something different out of it.”

She adds: “That’s exactly what we hope to do with Family Portrait.”

“Perhaps after the last year, we don’t have to go back to the way it was. Maybe things can be reinvented in a positive way. I think, at least, now there is a conversation.”