Rife is a Rollercoaster

Photo by Bex Rose

Tim is finishing her time at Rife and it’s an emotional time indeed.

When I first saw the callout for Rife and applied for the job, I made a promise to myself: it’s time I value myself and my experiences in life. It’s time to speak out and put into actions all the thoughts, feelings and opinions I’ve bottled up and built a fortress around. Things that are dear to me, moments that are important to me, observations and realisations from my life that will hopefully translate to positivity into the world, and help someone out there.

I set out a list of goals I wanted to achieve at the beginning of this journey, and there’s a fair amount I’ve been able to achieve. I wanted to write more and write better. I nearly forgot how much creative writing I did as a child, and how much I wanted to be like the cool 13-year-old authors my mum brought me books of. I wanted to be like them, published child authors with great stories to tell. That waned over time as life took over, and I thought academic writing was the only thing that’s going to happen for the rest of my life. I thought this novelist dream was over. But Rife gave this dream a second chance, a new life.

I tried spoken word for the first time. I wrote a bunch of pieces on topics and people and events and projects that are important to me. And the positive responses I’ve received has been overwhelming. Not only from friends. For the first time in my life, people I didn’t know actually messaged me on Facebook to let me know how much my writing has helped them.

Photo by Bex Rose

Dance and movement has always been the love of my life. But it’s taken me these six months at Rife to fully grasp that it is indeed possible to make it my career. There were so many detours I took from truly pursuing dance ever since my goal of being a professional ballet dancer was shot down by my parents. I was devoted to the dance team in secondary school, where I learnt some of the most important values and skills in teamwork I still bring with me to this day. But I skirted around dance when it came to my last two years of school and which uni course to take. I opted for a Theatre and Film degree because I’d learn more different skills, which I’m beyond thankful I did. But I subsequently spent my four years at uni not really doing anything dance-related until I had the opportunity to be the choreographer for one of my final year units. The biggest reason at play here was that I thought I wasn’t good enough. It took that final year for me to realise I am at least decent, and that people like my work. And then it took being at Rife for me to realise that I can make an actual career out of it.

I always thought you had to be the cream of the crop, the absolute best in the field to pursue a creative career. IT’S NOT TRUE. Don’t let the years and years of conditioning by the media fool you. It took me ten years to realise that, and I hope it’ll take much less time for you.

Photo by Elkie Rose McCrimmon

That’s my very long-winded way of saying, I could never imagine I’d be writing, choreographing and performing my first solo dance piece. It hasn’t been an easy task. I really like and have been so used to working in teams throughout uni, developing a creative system that works well with other people, to suddenly doing everything myself. Every action, every decision I make is solely dependent on me. It’s not an easy transition to make. But it’s been so empowering, to know that I can rely on myself, that I can, through my own abilities create pathways to achieve the goals I want. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling. It puts me in a great headspace where I can focus my energies towards those goals. Ultimately, as cheesy as it sounds, I’ve learnt that if I genuinely stay true to what I love, positive things will happen.

Photo by Tiffany Holmes

This journey with Rife has very much been about self-development, but it has also been about finding out about the world and discovering different stories, experiences and people around me.

I wanted to meet new people, make new connections, and create new experiences, and goodness me did I.  These six months have brought me too many amazing people and experiences I couldn’t even dream of encountering. I had goals of connecting with wonderful people who work in dance, VR, and queer advocacy. And I most certainly did. (Cheeky hint, have a read of my work.)

Photo by Alexie Segal

The incredible support I received from Sammy, our written editor and my mentor has propelled me to become more fully me. To accept everything that is the rollercoaster of me and my life. It’s been a difficult year, not least because of post-graduation blues. As many lost souls would tell you, the year after graduating college or uni can be incredibly tough and proper soul-destroying. You’re finally leaving years upon years of living within the education system which your body and mind has been conditioned to do. Suddenly you have to make your own decisions. Your life is very literally in your own hands. It’s an extremely overwhelming sense of freedom, but also responsibility. Because what you do with your life will have a direct impact on not just those around you, but the world.

This personal inner push and pull happens, unless you’re one of the rare lucky ones and you land your well-paid dream job straight out of uni. You’re constantly trying to balance the realities of working to pay your rent and bills and just life necessities, versus what you really want to spend your time and energy on. This is particularly tough in the creative industry. I’m not saying that Rife has now magically made this problem disappear. But Sammy has definitely changed the way I think about the approach creative work, that I deserve to be valued from a monetary perspective, for my time, my energy and my work.

Photo by Bex Rose

Being part of the Rife family has also reinforced what I’ve always believed, and brought a whole new perspective to the idea that the people should always come before the work. I’ve always struggled with mental health problems, and this year has been a truly tough one. News of family illness and passing of loved ones has had a dramatic and negative effect on me. But Sammy and Bex have been incredible in their support, and so have the rest of the Rife team, Vic, Roseanna and Euella. It has reinforced what will now become a steadfast belief and way of working, to always put people before work. Because people who are valued and supported will naturally create wonderful work.

I cannot stress how invaluable the team at Rife has been to me. I was constantly inspired by the wonderful chats to create work, especially seemingly random rants with Ella and Mikael in the Rife ‘fish bowl’, ie ‘crying corner’, aka ‘compliment cave’. I love that the three of us sparked great energy in each other and immediately hit it off on the first day. This kind of creative energy is rare and something I’ll keep treasuring. Although this behind the scenes stuff might not make it into the public work we make, but this highly encouraging and stimulating work environment has informed my creative process and the way I approach life.

Photo by Mikael Techane

Looking forward:

I will continue writing and pursuing dance in different capacities and creative forms, be it live, film, VR, or anything else. I want to engage even more with differently-abled people, BAME people and issues, queer identities and mental health advocacy, and everything in between. Sometimes, I still find myself compromising because I dislike confrontation. But I want to stand up for myself and what I represent even more, but also be wise in what battles I fight. I will continue to do independent AND team work. The feeling that my own efforts contribute towards a greater ambition, whether that’s in my solo work or with other people, is incredible. It’s something that I know will be my drive for a while yet. Most importantly, I strive to continue spreading positivity and love, and inspire others to do the same.

Photo by Ella Brandt

And so, it is with great sadness, but joy for everything I have encountered, and excitement for what’s to come, that I am leaving Rife. The three of us began on our respective individual journeys (remember that slightly cheesy introduction video?), converged at Rife, and now after six months of journeying together, we will go off on new adventures. I can’t wait to see what we’ll get up to. Who knows, maybe we’re plotting world domination, or maybe just some good old get-togethers with babies and skateboards and bands and dance troupes and books in tow.

Left to Right: Sammy (as the Planetarium), Mikael, Ella, Bex. Photo by Tim Lo