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A pair of talented creatives are challenging our perception of dyslexia in the creative industries with a brand-new podcast series.


Image credit: Elizabeth (left) Charlotte (right). Image by Sophie Lauren McCarthy.

Reflecting on their personal experiences within training and their careers so far, a pair of talented creatives feel there is room to improve on the support system for dyslexic makers within the arts. Wanting to be part of that change, Move Beyond Words directors Charlotte Edmonds and Elizabeth Arifien have launched a brand-new podcast series.

Shining a light on the fascinating and often misunderstood label of dyslexia, each week Charlotte and Elizabeth host a range of inspirational guests who are working in film, literature, art and TV. It’s a weekly conversation where they will talk, listen and share, learning all about their guests' lives, work and experiences with dyslexia. You can expect authentic and lived stories that we can all connect to and learn from, as we amplify and celebrate the ways that our guests move beyond words.

We caught up with Charlotte and Elizabeth recently to find out about the podcast and what they have been up to.

You just launched your new podcast, congratulations! What led you to create this?
Thank you! We launched at the end of last month and we have had some brilliant conversations so far with guests including actor Lauren McCrostie and authors Kate Power and Kathy Iwanczak Forsyth. The project kind of blossomed out of our need to challenge our perceptions of dyslexia and our abilities during lockdown. We recently received an Arts Council Project grant which was to support a new commission by the V&A as part of the Dance Festival 2020. Like many other things, this had to be cancelled.

Instead, we chose to do a podcast because we thought this was accessible for those with dyslexia to digest and reflect on. It is a space for us to learn about dyslexia, from people we respect and admire and ultimately, to raise awareness and support those with dyslexia in the creative arts industry. Personally, we aim to find acceptance with our own neurodiverse mind and by sharing our journey we hope to educate others along the way.

You are both extremely passionate about dyslexia within the creative industries, particularly in dance. Have you always worked together?
Before coming together, we were both exploring our personal experiences with dyslexia in our individual choreographies and films. We were looking at what dyslexia really means. This brought us together to create Words Fail Me, our first collaborative work. Our goal is to share our findings with other people so we can all begin to appreciate the potential of a dyslexic mind.

This topic is personal for you, what do you want your audience to take away from your work and podcast?
Our key message is to embrace your differences and seek out personal potential in your unique abilities. We have both reflected on our experiences within our training and careers. We feel there is room to improve on the support system for dyslexic artists within the industry, and we aim to help lead the change.

Our projects invoke conversations that resonate with all, but most importantly the people who are directly affected by this label. 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 this podcast, as well as our future performances and films reflective and accurate of the current climate.


Image credit: Move Beyond Words artwork by Alex Colehan.

You’ve noticed a lack of support within the creative industries for dyslexia, is this what drives you to focus your work on this topic?
Dyslexic individuals tend to gravitate towards an artistic career because their strengths can thrive in that environment. They are known to be inventive and can think of ideas that are unique. However, we cannot ignore the fact that those individuals need to be nurtured on how to express and articulate those ideas, especially when translating them into a different medium.

Our drive stems from our personal experience with dyslexia, as it has sculpted us into the artists we are today. It has helped us empathise our differences and struggles that people may find themselves battling with. We have learnt to nurture our dyslexia by gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities of it, but it is an ongoing journey and we are constantly learning how to work within our linear society.

Through our research and development funded by Arts Council England, we explored the conventional methods of generating and teaching movement and how to revisit these methods to suit our learning style. When working with collaborators we have a democratic approach which is centred around investing in an individual and understanding their neuro-diverse needs. Our team is predominantly dyslexic, so their influences are integral to the developments of the project. As we are learning from many different dyslexic experiences there is not just one approach to generating our work. For instance, when working with the dancers, we use a visual language that enables them to embody the brief and motivates them to overcome their personal challenges.

Our new podcast gives us an excuse to pick the minds of some very talented people across a wide range of professions. We want to explore how dyslexia has impacted people not only in dance, but in film, tv, writing and art.


Image credit: by Louis Headlam.

What have you been up to as well as creating this podcast?
Due to the incredible support of the British Dyslexia Association we were commissioned to create choreography for Dyslexia Creates 2019 at the V&A, which we titled Words Fail Me. This work looked at cognitive behaviour in connection to someone with Dyslexia and the composition by Tony Nwachukwu was reflective of this. During the lead up to the event at the V&A we were invited to share a live rehearsal at The Royal Opera House which was live streamed to 42,000 people and presented to a full house. We were also commissioned to make work for an event at The Royal Opera House in the Paul Hamlyn Hall.

So, what’s next for you?
We are developing a series of workshops designed to support dancers in training or at the early stages of their career. Led by experienced facilitators who have developed methodology of approaching dyslexia, these workshops equip dancers with skills to navigate the creative industries. We are really looking forward to getting in the studio.

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Having recently launched, Elizabeth and Charlotte are excited to share the conversations they have had so far and are looking forward to hosting some more fantastic guests and conversation on their ten-week podcast series.

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, ACAST or anywhere else you get your weekly podcasts. Follow #MoveBeyondWords on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Or you can find out more about our other projects here.

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