A little MORE conversation!

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LOOK out for a dance show with a difference this weekend as Cumbernauld Theatre hosts A Conversation With Carmel.

This production, from Barrowland Ballet, features a hybrid cast in more ways than one, as it is made up of professionals and non-professionals of all ages from infant to octogenarian.

The News and Chronicle interviewed choreographer Natasha Gilmore to find out more. “A lot of productions always feature dancers who are around the same age range, about 25-35. We wanted to do something a bit different,” she said.

The youngest cast member is Natasha’s son Otis, while the oldest is 83-year-old Diana Payne-Myres who plays Carmel and in 2002 was given an MBE for services. “We were lucky enough to have such a legendary dancer in the title role,” said Natasha.

The piece is themed around a family coming together for Carmel’s 80th birthday party, so the need for a multi-generational cast was obvious. Natasha came up with the concept from listening to older people sharing their wisdom, The company placed newspaper advertisements inviting older people to talk about their lives and recorded much of the resultant material.

“I had lots of conversations with older people talking about their life experiences, and a lot of that is incorporated into the piece via video. It was a real honour listening to these people opening up and through this we explore family relationships and the things older people wish they could tell their younger selves, like ‘don’t get so stressed out over this, it’ll work out’. The piece is quite emotional in places but never gets too soppy. It has gone down very well with the preview audiences so far.”

Another main element of the piece is that it features performers who are not professional dancers. Each tour venue is asked to recruit members of its associated amateur groups who would like to appear in the show, raising the number of people onstage to around 25.

“We work with them for three days, teaching them the sequences they need to do. It really helps give us the feeling of an authentic family gathering and has been getting great feedback,” said Natasha.

A Conversation With Carmel comes to Cumbernauld Theatre on Saturday, May 14 for a single performance starting 7.45pm. Tickets, £7/£6, can be booked on 01236 732887.