Eve Mutso has recently been casting a very analytical eye around Tramway One. You might think that she knew all the ins and outs of the Glasgow venue’s largest performing space – after all, as a Principal Ballerina with Scottish Ballet, Mutso performed there on several occasions. This time, however, her mapping of Tramway One’s physicality – the area of the floor and the wings, the close proximity of the audience – is markedly different: Mutso is actively involved in the Estonia Now dance programmes that are coming to Tramway next week, and she’s repeatedly been on-site, ensuring that there will be no awkward surprises for the visiting companies.

“When you’re on-stage, dancing,” she says, “you don’t think about the technical things – that’s some-one else’s job. But now, I’m on the other side – and when we were curating the mixed bills that are coming to Tramway, I was suddenly having to stop and think, not just as one of the contributing choreographers, but also as a producer. I’d be looking at company repertoires and having to ask myself ‘can we really do this piece?’ Tramway One has no facilities for flying scenery in and out, so immediately that meant some of the ENB (Estonian National Ballet) repertoire had to be ruled out. But that still left really good works that could fit with the space, and be a strong representational part of the Estonia Now festival in Glasgow, so I’m really excited – and yes, a bit emotional – about this whole project.”

Her intensely personal commitment is easy to understand if you see Eve Mutso as a kind of living bridge between two countries – Estonia and Scotland – and their cultures. She can look back on a childhood growing up in Estonia’s capital Tallinn when the whole country was still under rigid Soviet control. Her dance training and early career were grounded not just in classical ballet technique but also in the folk traditions that her teachers were careful to keep alive. “I think,” she says. “that despite being occupied – and living with how that affects your own culture – we kept a sense of identity, of our roots and traditions, surviving in our hearts and heads.

Now, in what is the centenary of Estonia becoming a state – and also the 100th anniversary of Estonian National Ballet – we want to show who we are in the 21st century. And I know, from going on foreign tours with Scottish Ballet, how useful and important the arts are, in introducing yourself to other countries. In fact dancers from other countries have already discovered that Estonia is a good place to be! Estonian National Ballet has dancers from Brazil, America, Canada, Australia – and Russia. It reminds me of Scottish Ballet, with its own diversity of dancers.”

She can’t help but smile as she says this: until January 2016, Scottish Ballet had a very elegant, technically brilliant and expressive Estonian dancer called Eve Mutso as one of its Principal Ballerinas.As she talks about her decision to leave the company – and, actually, the reasons why she left Estonia and its national ballet company in the first place – a pattern of embracing change, of taking risks, begins to emerge. It’s that willingness to relinquish what has become a comfort zone that Mutso has been sharing with a group of dancers at Estonian National Ballet.

She sketches in some background to the new work, Echo, that will be part of the ENB triple bill at Tramway. When the company’s current director, Thomas Edur, approached her a couple of years back, his offer of a commission had only one rider: he wanted Mutso to use music by an Estonian composer. “It was so amazing,” she says, “to be given this kind of freedom. Especially since the company is very much a classical ballet company and my own choreography has a very contemporary side to it. This is quite an unknown territory for ENB. We do have contemporary dance companies in Estonia – and we have a triple bill of modern choreographies as part of Estonia Now at Tramway – but there really isn’t a crossover between styles. Yet!”

Mutso really sparkles with a sense of visionary purpose as she says this. Her own past performing experience has seen her dance across this divide in works by some of the best crossover dance-makers such as Forsythe and Van Manen. Her own recent slew of choreographies has melded the clean, classic purity of balletic lines with the more grounded forms - angularities and weightiness – of contemporary dance, albeit with her own twists: scaffolding heights and even aerial work have added in new aspects to the movement. “By making Echo – which will premiere in the Opera House in Tallinn before it comes to Tramway – I hope I can show that there is a common ground between classical and contemporary, and that ENB can inhabit both on-stage.”

After some sixteen years of living and working in Scotland, Mutso says it’s her home – but then, as our conversation makes clear, she never completely left Estonia. She’s fiercely proud that, with a population of only one and a half million people, some one million tickets are sold for live performances every year. “We have, I think, a very lively curiosity, as well as a love of, the arts. And I found that same curiosity in the dancers I chose for Echo. I was interested in how the past always echoes round about us, how it influences our choices and freedoms - I initially use elastic pathways on-stage to show that. None of my eight dancers had worked in contemporary choreographies before, but they opened up their minds, as well as their bodies and took risks so that they could own the ideas, and the movement. For me, that is so emblematic of how I think Estonia is now, as a country going forward. I really hope Tramway audiences will connect with our journey – they will, of course, already be close to us! I remember, dancing Forsythe’s Suite from Artifact with Scottish Ballet, I was so far downstage my bum was within reach of the front row and I could hear them breathing... Which can feel scary! But to me, Tramway is a special place, and this is a very special occasion, so I’m hoping our Estonian companies will take that intimate nearness in their stride!”

Estonia Now is a city-wide festival, in Glasgow from Monday 12 to Sunday 18 November

details at EstoniaNow.org

The Contemporary Dance Programme is at Tramway on 13 & 14, November. Estonian National Ballet performs there on 16 & 17 November