Welcome to Dance International Glasgow (or DIG Festival) where I’m at The Tramway, home of Scottish Ballet, for the world premiere of their new production, Each Other. This piece, created by Dutch-Israeli choreographers Ivgi and Greben, is an exploration of borders, of division and unity. Tom Parkinson’s score was created in studio with the dancers as they rehearsed, and therefore responds to, rather than dictates the choreography. An electronic thrum is broken by the occasional piano melody, but more often than not, by a sound like boots crunching on gravel.
The stage is covered in shoes: trainers, pumps, boots, heels, all scattered across the floor at random. A few dancers in ragged, flesh-tone clothes rearrange the shoes to create barriers, islands of bare floor, and paths between these spaces. Why shoes? They come to evoke so many things during the show: all of the shoes a ballet dancer must go through during their career; individuals lost in a consumerist wasteland; the famous archive of shoes on display at Auschwitz, and the increasing comparisons between contemporary politics and events building up to WW2. The wealth of possible interpretations is one reason why I’ll be thinking about this production for some time.
Ivgi and Greben’s choreography creates the illusion of contact improvisation, and is heavily influenced by contemporary dance, with the occasional traditional ballet flourishes and stag leaps. The company moves in and out of unison, pulsing with the score in clannish formations. Yaron Abulafia’s lighting design is subtle and atmospheric, creating a searchlight effect in the frantic border-building scenes, or when the dancers tear down these barriers of shoes. The one comic scene –where a dancer shuffles slowly onto the stage carrying an impossible number of shoes – takes a dark turn as he is buried alive beneath them by the rest of the company.
We’re treated to an extraordinary solo by Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, the rebel character who walks along the top of the wall of shoes, instead of choosing sides. Taratolo’s solo tells her character’s story through a range of contortionist-like movements before reaching an ecstatic, breathless conclusion – which is something like what you’ll be feeling after you watch this production. Each Other engages adeptly with the International theme of DIG festival, inviting us to question the purpose and consequences of borders within and between nations, as well as the role of the individual in the crowd.al