“I was working on a huge youth dance project, I was in multiple drag shows, I was developing a contemporary dance project and planning to take my company LADS on tour around Australia and New Zealand,” Isabella recalls. “Then, corona appeared, and all of that was cancelled, along with any future work.”
Isabella, 29, is a performance artist and feature choreographer, accustomed to working multiple gigs, seven days a week and being regularly on the move. “Now I have just a few hours of yoga teaching per week,” she explains. “The change was drastic and devastating at first. I couldn’t teach, I couldn’t perform and I had no-one to collaborate with. All things I adore doing. It was really hard to have it all ripped out from underneath me.”
In March, she left London and returned to Nottingham to spend lockdown with her family. Isabella is half Greek, half English but grew up in the UK, taking holidays to Greece. When her late-grandmother’s flat in Koukaki became available in July, she jumped at the opportunity.“Dancers can’t sit still, we have to keep training,” says Isabella. “After being cooped up in the UK, here I have space to train at home with the free classes that dance schools and teachers have been putting online.”
Normally, Isabella would be performing at the big summer festivals and booking gigs for next year. She now faces an empty calendar stretching long into the distance. Yet, with her savings and small income from teaching online yoga and dance classes, she’s learned to enjoy a simpler life in Athens; shopping at the laiki, exploring the cool cafes of Koukaki.
“If there's no work, there's no reason for me to be back in London,” she says. “If everything is going to be laptop-based for the foreseeable future, I might as well be here, where the Mediterranean lifestyle is more chilled, the food is delicious, the sun shines for eight out of twelve months of the year and the sea is really close. I’m quite happy to leave the rat race behind.”