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A pair of talented creatives are challenging our perception of Dyslexia through the self-expressive art of movement and dance.
Charlotte Edmonds and Elizabeth Arifien have put their heads together to establish Words Fail Me; a collaborative of sorts that seeks to shine new light on this fascinating and often misunderstood label, with a vivid ensemble of film and live performances.
This month, the pair will be showcasing a sample of their unique work at The Royal Opera House for their choreographed piece Innate Beauty. I sat down with them to learn more about this intriguing concept, and how they have utilised their personal experiences with Dyslexia in order to weave this into their pieces for the stage and screen.
1. Would you care to give us a brief background on your recent history in the field, and elaborate on how you two had decided to collaborate?
Before coming together we were both exploring our personal experiences with Dyslexia in our individual choreographies and films. We were both on a journey into looking at what Dyslexia really was, and this brought us together to create ‘Words Fail Me’. Our goal is to share our findings with other people so we can all begin to appreciate the potential of a neuro-diverse mind.
2. Why do you feel that this is an important message to share with your audience?
Our key message is to embrace your differences and seek out personal potential in your unique abilities.
There are many people who are struggling with their dyslexia, either within education or the workplace. We hope that our project invokes conversation and resonates with all, but most importantly the people who are affected by this label. Art is often created to provoke emotion; it is frequently used as a mirror to reflect on society’s flaws and contemporary issues. We use dance and film as a medium to start important conversations.
‘Words Fail Me will be a body of work exploring this complex and multi layered label that many people don’t fully understand’.
Being that it is still very much a major issue within society, our goal is to shed light on this by covering 6 topics connected to Dyslexia. We’ll be delving into these subjects with a range of specialists within their fields. They will help us to unravel and fully understand this label so we can make performances and films reflective of our findings.
3. Could you tell us a little about what we might expect to see from the group’s upcoming project, Innate Beauty?
‘Innate Beauty’ is a performance that is part of The Royal Opera House’s Family Sunday Event. We will be showcasing our latest performance from a series of work under the title ‘Words Fail Me’.
Innate Beauty explores a personal journey with Dyslexia within the education system and the various negative and positive inflictions this label has. The performance will take place in a 360 degree space with 2 dancers who are both Dyslexic. The set has been designed by Aidan Ridyard who we met when we premiered a recent choreography at the V&A in October at Dyslexia Creates. Aidan spoke at the event and we felt compelled to look at ways to collaborate. He has created a metal cube with resistance bands around it allowing us to play with space and personal perception. Tony Nwachawuku has composed the score and he has been working with us in rehearsals to generate sounds that reflect our personal journeys with Dyslexia. You can find the music from our V&A performance on Soundcloud under the name ‘Words Fail Me’. We have also been working with Jennifer Gregory on costumes for Innate Beauty. Jennifer has researched brain scans and the colours and patterns that are projected through neuro-diverse minds and their mental states.
4. How does the work differ from the original source material of Sleeping Beauty?
Our concept has been generated through our research and development period, with the support of Arts Council England. During our creative workshops we have discussed in depth the difficult experiences children can have throughout their education when they are Dyslexic.
‘Innate Beauty is an interpretation of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of a dyslexic; using its core characters to journey through the different aspects and everyday experiences of one who experiences dyslexia firsthand’.
5. Will you be working with other collaborators or artists on this show?
As well as the aforementioned collaborations from architect and designer, Aidan Ridyard, music composer Tony Nwachwuku, and costume designer Jennifer Gregory, the performance will be provided by dancers Rosalie Bell and Kirubel Belay. Stills photographer Louis Headlam has also been capturing the process for us along the way. All of these talented people are Dyslexic, and this has added so much value and authenticity to the process.
6. Do you intend to take the performance anywhere else after The Royal Opera House?
Our goal is to continue to develop ‘Words Fail Me’ into a series of performances and short films looking at six different topics connected to Dyslexia. The scope for the project is to create a tour that will continue to reach out into other cities and rural areas within the UK, and inspire people affected with Dyslexia to see for themselves the true potential of a neuro-diverse mind.
Innate Beauty will be performed at the Royal Opera House in the Paul Hamlyn Hall on Sunday 8th December 2019.
You can learn more about future projects and performances by Words Fail Me via their various social platforms @wordsfailme
Interview by Privilege of Legends for Chrom-Art London.