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29 Dec 2023

Lizzie Fargher is a former dancer and dance teacher and currently sits on the DanceEast board.  Helen Oldfield spoke with her about her journey into dance, continued involvement at DanceEast and what the joy of dance means to her.

Lizzie’s first experience of dance was at a young age, and she particularly loved classical ballet. She grew up surrounded by culture and the arts, “both my parents were very artistic; my father ran the Aldeburgh Festival for a time during the Britten/Pears years and we lived in Orford (as I still do with my own family)… I was incredibly fortunate as they also had great friends in the Royal Ballet, who would occasionally be forced to watch our probably cringingly awful ‘shows’!”.

She went on to train at ballet school, which led to her dancing in opera productions at Sadlers Wells and the English National Opera, before training as a teacher of Cecchetti ballet. She was introduced to the world of contemporary dance when she began attending “the (very) early contemporary classes at The Place, taught by Robert North, and Kenneth Tharp, who became the head of London Contemporary Dance Theatre and was in the first ballet class I ever taught, which was absolute chaos…a total disaster!”

After marrying her husband Tim, having four children, and running a retail business for years, Lizzie met DanceEast’s Artistic Director Assis Carreiro “and the rest is history!”. Lizzie was heavily involved with the development and opening of the Jerwood DanceHouse in 2009. Reminiscing on the early days of the Jerwood DanceHouse “the plans for the DanceHouse were afoot, I joined the Board, we managed to raise the money and happy hours were spent by us all, clambering vertiginously round the building in steel toecap boots and hard hats.”

Today, Lizzie still sits on the DanceEast board and brings her expertise and knowledge in areas such as fundraising, development and sharing her networks. She loves the opportunity to be immersed in the world of dance, “I find it all absorbing.  It makes me feel all sorts of things, some things happy and sometimes sad, positive, or not so positive.” Lizzie recognises the hard work that everyone working in the industry puts in, “it is always of value if the people who are doing it are very committed and passionate about it.”

Although Lizzie no longer teaches, she is still fascinated by dance, often going to Sadlers Wells, “I love looking at dance in a slightly critical fashion. I still have friends around and about who are within it, which is lovely.” Lizzie is continually inspired by watching dance, “just the form of it, the way it’s performed, who is performing it, and what it is, the work, whether it’s Swan Lake or The Little Match Girl.

The Move Be Moved 40 campaign is about celebrating the joy of dance, and Lizzie shares this with her grandchildren, “one granddaughter, who is 7, is going to be a seriously good dancer”, as well as her 12 year old granddaughter “who is doing ballet and is fascinated by my old pointe shoes.” When asked if she is a kitchen dancer, Lizzie replied “oh yes! Double pirouettes!”.