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Life in Lockdown: Elizabeth Arifien

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Elizabeth Arifien is a dance artist, choreographer and creative director who devises emotive performances for others driven by personal and societal themes. Her works have been shared at Royal Opera House, V&A and Lilian Baylis Studio - Sadler's Wells. Publications of her work have been shared by The Guardian, BBC, Chrome-ART, British Dyslexia Association, City Lit and Greenwich Dance amongst others.

She is the founder and creative director of Creative Dance London. They provide safe spaces for movement to flourish; encouraging individuality and freedom through dance classes, workshops and events. Elizabeth is also the co-founder and co-Creative Director of Move Beyond Words, where they create artistic environments to empower dyslexic artists through their podcast, workshops, films, performances and events.

MOVER MONDAY
What a way to start the week, a lovely article written by Lyndsay Winship on ‘the best short films to watch at home’ which featured a film I co-directed and co-choreographed called UNBOXED. The film explores one person's journey as they deal with the stigmas connected to Dyslexia through dance. In society, those with dyslexia are often boxed into what people perceive our abilities to be and through this film we question who decides who we really are and who creates the box we so often are told we fit within?

RESET is created by Studio Wayne McGregor and is a programme set up to maintain dancers' physical health during lockdown. It was a pleasure to be moving with Company Wayne McGregor and extraordinary dancers from across the globe today!

Today was an admin heavy day but with a wonderful result… At Move Beyond Words we submitted an application. It’s always such a great feeling to send applications off. I remember when I first started sending applications and the weight and expectation of them really blocked me. There is something counter intuitive as a creative to have to sit down day after day and write out your ideas. For someone with dyslexia this experience doesn’t create an accessible atmosphere but we work with the system we have and continue to make changes where possible. I think people are becoming more aware of the inequality here and I have been having more conversations with organisations about this, which gives me hope change is near.

Since the 1st of January I have been closing my days by doing ‘Home 30 days of yoga with Adriene’. It has been a great experience. There was something Adriene said today that really stuck with me. She said “find softness in your struggle. Where you are using most of your energy, find softness there”.

TUESDAY TAKEOVER
This is a new feature we are doing at Creative Dance London. We are excited to open our Take Over Tuesday to participants, artists and dancers of all ages and abilities so get in touch if you would like to share a day of your lockdown experience with us (marketing@creativedancelondon.org). Today was the first day of this feature and I kicked it off! Check our highlights for this takeover…

For the past 3 years I have been teaching dance to adults and found there was a real lack of representation once you reach a certain age and I want to create an inclusive environment for adults to continue to expand and challenge their learning. We run 4 x zoom classes a week for FREE. Swing by!

WISDOM WEDNESDAY
I had a great coaching session today and until my next one I was asked to write down the things that make me smile, however big or small. I love that! It's easy to let things slip by without acknowledging the way they make you feel so it’s something I will aim to do at the end of my days to help keep my mind focused on the positives.

An easy one for today was I received a magazine in the post which featured an interview myself and Charlotte Edmonds gave on behalf of MBW for Dyslexia Scotland. We spoke about interviewing Darcey Bussell on our podcast (Move Beyond Words) among other wonderful guests and our plans for the future.

THANKFUL THURSDAY
Today was a little blue, non-eventful. Emails came in as usual, meetings were had, but in all honesty I felt a little sleepy and wanted to snuggle down for the day and enjoy listening to the rain patter it’s droplets on my window without distraction. There is something nurturing about that sound and its erratic and non-conventional rhythm that helps me to feel like I’m slipping into a soothing bath. Embracing this feeling I decided to read my book The Art of Rest and slide into a warm bath to recover my aching muscles. One of the blessings of working for yourself is reworking your schedule to suit your energy levels.

FREEDOM FRIDAY
Today was the day! Every Friday I clear my schedule of meetings and I create choreography and/or make music. It’s a bit of a secret that I’m a singer songwriter… I don't like to mix my job description up anymore than it already is but music is a passion. I find so much joy in singing, it’s such a release of emotions I sometimes unaware I am carrying.

Before my freedom Friday really kicks off it is time to do that tax return. I had been dreading this for weeks but in all honesty it was so much easier and quicker than I had anticipated. Which meant I had time before my music session to take a stroll to the beach and on my way found a leaf in the shape of a love heart and it made me smile. It’s the small things, remember?