Rachel’s Blog

Injured and Longing to Dance

Injured and Longing to Dance

Today marks two months since I saw an orthopedic doctor for the first time. Two days ago was the first time in that period I went back to dancing. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely knew I missed dancing. It was frustrating to be stuck sitting on the sidelines at…read more →

Rachel’s Staying in Stuttgart!

Rachel’s Staying in Stuttgart!

It’s time for a long overdue update. Here’s the short version: 1. I received a one-year work visa/residence permit. 2. I love living in Stuttgart, in spite of the seemingly endless search for an apartment. If you care to read more, the details follow. I finally got my work visa! I felt like I entered the visa application process with…read more →

Learning with Beginner Leaders

Learning with Beginner Leaders

I received an e-mail a few days ago from a Kizomba Community subscriber, asking for some advice. Normally I answer e-mails like that privately, but I’ve heard this question so many times I thought it deserved its own post. I’ve learned the basics very easily but am frustrated with my progress as the male partners in class, at least most…read more →

New Interview Series: Solo African Dance

New Interview Series: Solo African Dance

If you caught my most recent article on Latin Dance Community, you know that I’ve had a growing enthusiasm for solo African dances in the last few years. Kuduro and Afro House came into the picture for me early on in my kizomba dancing, and I’ve since tried Afrobeats, azonto, coupé décalé, ndombolo, soukous, and various classes just labeled “West…read more →

Antarctic Kizomba

Antarctic Kizomba

This January I embarked on a trip I’d been planning for years: a cruise from Chile to various places in Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. Although I managed to get sick, and then seasick on top of that, it was still an incredible trip. Being on the Antarctic continent feels like being on another planet. The landscape is dramatic and…read more →

Finding Joy in the Moment

Finding Joy in the Moment

This year has been a little precarious for me so far. In January I took my coolest trip to date…but spent half of it sick, including 9 days where even reading a book or watching a movie felt taxing. I almost passed out from the pain of walking across an airport terminal. In February I moved to Stuttgart, aiming to…read more →

When Should Dancers Transition to Teaching?

When Should Dancers Transition to Teaching?

Sometimes people feel hesitant when asked to teach. Others jump in before they’ve thought it through. Charles and I discuss what might motivate you to start teaching, based on an article I wrote last year. Go listen! Prefer a written version? Go check out the original article on Latin Dance Community. When Should Dancers Transition to Being Teachers?

Who needs to learn kizomba technique?

Who needs to learn kizomba technique?

It seems like some people don’t need to learn technique – they just watch and move! So who needs to study technique, and how can you become more creative? This week marks two years since Kizomba Community released the Kizomba Technique Junkie series, a set of education videos I produced with Rachel Meth. At the time we made the series,…read more →

Rachel Resolves to Learn Zouk

Rachel Resolves to Learn Zouk

I wrote my first teacher bio in 2013. The last line stated that I intended to learn zouk-lambada that year, but I only managed a total of four classes. In 2014 I updated it to say I was determined to learn to dance West Coast Swing and Lambazouk in the near future. I don’t think I did any of the…read more →

Let’s talk about kizomba fusion dancing

Let’s talk about kizomba fusion dancing

Kiz Talks, Dec. 29, 2016 First of all, what is fusion? The word “fusion” has some scientific meanings we won’t bother with here. It is used in music to talk about a mixture of styles, and in cooking it refers to cooking that uses elements of different cuisines together. Similarly, fusion dancing involves combining elements of different partner dances. Let…read more →

Update: Rachel’s Move to Stuttgart

Update: Rachel’s Move to Stuttgart

You might have heard by now – I’m moving to Stuttgart next year. Actually, a lot of you apparently read only the title of my last post, because I keep running into people who thought I’d already left! Well, soon enough. My flight is on January 30 and my going away party will be January 28th. (Message me if you’re…read more →

Fresh Switch Dance Collab in Central Park

Fresh Switch Dance Collab in Central Park

I was back in NYC for a week and went out to my favorite standby social, Kizomba After Work with David Campos at Kana Tapas Bar. “Have you met Litzi?” David asked me. Litzi Bejarano is a kizomba teacher from Cancùn who found kizomba through the Latin scene. Like me, she started with limited opportunities for learning, but was seriously…read more →

How to Assess Your Skill Level in Dance (podcast)

How to Assess Your Skill Level in Dance (podcast)

I’ll be honest – I’m pretty level agnostic. I don’t believe in absolute levels. I think it’s always relative to your scene or the attendees of a given dance event. As a teacher, I know that an intermediate class I teach in one city will be called an advanced class in another. As a student, I know that I can…read more →

How to Keep Up Your Learning (podcast)

How to Keep Up Your Learning (podcast)

Back in January I wrote an article for LDC called “How to Master Your Learning.” A few weeks ago, Charles Ogar and I revisited this topic and explored it further, talking about motivation and learning strategies. There are so many ideas here, something for every personality type and background. Enjoy the discussion! Dance Your Heart on Fire 028: How to…read more →

Why You Should Invest in Private Lessons (podcast)

Why You Should Invest in Private Lessons (podcast)

Charles Ogar invited me to speak on his Dance Your Heart on Fire podcast on the topic of private lessons. Some of you probably remember my blog post “Why Taking Private Lessons Is the Best!” This covers some similar ground, with additional thoughts from both of us. Listen to the podcast now! For those of you who prefer the quick…read more →

Rachel’s Moving to Germany!

Rachel’s Moving to Germany!

I spent a lovely time dancing at the DC Bachata Congress this weekend. I also enjoyed catching up with some wonderful dancers I hadn’t seen in a while. Over the weekend I realized something. Apparently I haven’t been as public as I thought with this: I am moving to Germany next year. I’ve been planning this for quite a while,…read more →

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Twice last week (and hundreds of times previously) I’ve been confronted with the question – “Isn’t it boring if I do too many basic steps?” Let’s get the short answer out of the way — NO! Easy as that response is to give, I do understand why leaders ask this. Most of us deal with insecurities when we are dancing….read more →

How to Level Up Your Social Dance Experience (podcast)

How to Level Up Your Social Dance Experience (podcast)

About a month ago I was a guest on Charles Ogar’s Dance Your Heart on Fire podcast. Our topic was about creating better social dance experiences. Have a listen! Dance Your Heart on Fire 012: How to Level Up Your Social Dance Experience For those of you who prefer the quick tips version… Beginner dancers: – Be clean – Dress…read more →

A Look at the White House Kizomba & Zouk Summit

A Look at the White House Kizomba & Zouk Summit

The White House Kizomba & Zouk Festival 2016: 3 days of workshops, 6 nights of parties, national and international instructors, live music, performances, and plenty of hype. In fact, there’s so much hype surrounding dance festivals these days that it can be difficult to sort out which events merit attention (and of course our time and money). Fortunately the WHKZ…read more →

Why Taking Private Lessons is the BEST!

Why Taking Private Lessons is the BEST!

This post is for all of you who have never taken a private lesson. You know that they are possible; that most teachers offer them. You know that they cost much more per hour than taking a group class. Maybe you even know that the best dancers in your scene make it a priority to take them. But I’m here…read more →

New Year Reflections from Rachel Cassandra

New Year Reflections from Rachel Cassandra

My experiment in August and September of 2014 failed to inspire in me a regular personal blogging habit. Still, as we enter a new year I find I’d like to share a little! Kizomba Community has been going strong now for a full two years. It has gone through a few incarnations, but I’m quite pleased with the present one….read more →

Liquid Leading, or Switch Dancing

Liquid Leading, or Switch Dancing

“Physics doesn’t give a DAMN about your gender!” “What if we could keep the idea of lead and follow, but toss the idea that this was connected to gender? Further, what if a couple could lead and follow each other, and then switch, and then switch back? What if it could be like a conversation, taking turns listening and speaking?”…read more →

How to Have an Uncommonly Good Collaboration

How to Have an Uncommonly Good Collaboration

Kiz Talks, April 10, 2015 This isn’t the first time I’ve been moved to write by my appreciation for a great collaboration. Let me start this one differently, though – watch this video and try to guess how long we’ve been dancing together: Believe it or not, this was only the third time Charles and I had ever seen each…read more →

Labor Completed: Announcing the Kizomba Technique Junkie series!

Labor Completed: Announcing the Kizomba Technique Junkie series!

Last week I released my first full instructional video series for kizomba. It’s called “Kizomba Technique Junkies.” And I have to say, it’s pretty awesome! I feel a bit like a parent, bringing this into the world. I started planning it 8 months ago. I spent weeks considering what I could best share with kizomba learners, especially those without regular…read more →

The Joys of Partnership: 2 Rachels

The Joys of Partnership: 2 Rachels

Kiz Talks, Feb. 1, 2015 I have to admit, I like to fly solo. I did my degree in teaching, and I have always felt comfortable up in front of a class full of students. I took my first international flight unaccompanied at age 13. I’m an introvert, meaning that while I love sharing with a class and spending a…read more →

Kizomba Anytime, Anywhere!

Kizomba Anytime, Anywhere!

Kiz Talks, Jan. 26, 2015 Well, I’ll admit there are some limitations. Exercise common sense if you choose to accept this mission. I have personally found it very enjoyable to pass time that would otherwise be spent waiting in boredom (or on a smartphone, for some of you!), or take a break from an outdoor activity, and have some impromptu…read more →

Introducing a New Series! Ladies & Leadership

Introducing a New Series! Ladies & Leadership

Kiz Talks, Nov. 13, 2014 Some time back a friend shared a video on Facebook – two ladies dancing together in a kizomba workshop demo. There were no names attached to the video, so I reached out to ask if anyone knew who they were. The answer came back after a couple of days: Sonja and Elisa of Kikizomba. I…read more →

New Video: Rachel Cassandra & Assal T in Hamburg

New Video: Rachel Cassandra & Assal T in Hamburg

I met Assal Ta while working at Kielzomba 2014. Assal was kind enough to assist me in a few classes. When I returned to Germany a month later for the Hamburg Kizomba & Zouk Gala, we met up to dance downtown. This video shows a few excerpts of us, dancing to Linda Tipo Lua by Twenty Fingers. Filming by Yvonne…read more →

Festival Accommodations – Where to Lay Your Head?

Festival Accommodations – Where to Lay Your Head?

Kiz Talks, Sept. 23, 2014 So you’ve decided to go. You’ve registered for your pass, planned your transportation, and announced your delight on Facebook. Now – where to stay? Generally you have a few options: 1. Stay in the festival hotel 2. Stay in a cheaper hotel or hostel nearby 3. Stay in someone’s home Here are some questions to…read more →

Dancing in DC! New Video with Florian Tep

Dancing in DC! New Video with Florian Tep

To cap off a wonderful partnership in the US this year, Florian Tep and I took the opportunity offered by teaching together at the DC Bachata Congress to film some new video in Washington, DC. And I finally figured out my new computer enough to edit the first one! Check it out!

Chin Up!

Chin Up!

Kiz Talks, Aug. 24, 2014 I actually mean that in the literal sense. I was chastised in class today by Moun for not doing so. I had been taking the class as a lead and had a question. He had me come try it with him as a follow but quickly interrupted to take me by the chin – and…read more →

They’re Right, Too!

They’re Right, Too!

Kiz Talks, Aug. 23, 2014 I took five great classes today at Batuke! I am a bit tired of people coming up to me and saying “Oh! You’re a man?” and responding “No, but I’m leading.” However, the instruction is great. A strong theme in the kizomba classes was syncopation and rotating through steps. I also did some classic semba…read more →

Taking Care of Your Stuff When You’re Dancing

Taking Care of Your Stuff When You’re Dancing

Kiz Talks, Aug. 22, 2014 Hi guys! I’m off to the first night of Batuke! and sporting a handy little hip purse. Of course we hope when we go out that everyone is a cool member of the dance community…but as someone who has had money and a camera stolen at dance venues, I like to take a little extra…read more →

Dance Kizomba to Get Smart and Stay That Way

Dance Kizomba to Get Smart and Stay That Way

Kiz Talks, Aug. 21, 2014 A while back there were some brief articles making the rounds on Facebook, claiming that dancing makes you smarter. You probably saw at least one – but did you realize that KIZOMBA is especially well-suited to giving you those benefits? The most interesting article I read on this topic came from Richard Powers, a full-time…read more →

Drinking and Dancing – A Curvy Relationship

Drinking and Dancing – A Curvy Relationship

Kiz Talks, Aug. 20, 2014 I was talking to Florian on Saturday about how drinking influences one’s dancing. It reminded me of the first time someone shared a flask with me; Jameson, outside a blues dance back in 2009. I could definitely notice a difference for myself, and over the next few months I decided that it could probably be…read more →

The Amazing Interdependence of Kizomba and Computers

The Amazing Interdependence of Kizomba and Computers

Kiz Talks, Aug. 19, 2014 I’ve been thinking about this since my laptop decided it would be best to start functioning at the speed of a machine from the ’80s. Clearly the kizomba scene once functioned without all of our current conveniences. But try to imagine your local scene without an mp3 collection or Facebook events or Meetup groups or…read more →

How to Travel and Not Be Broke

How to Travel and Not Be Broke

Kiz Talks, Aug. 18, 2014 I’m off to Europe, guys! Keep up with my travels here if you’re interested. People often express astonishment and envy that I manage to travel as much as I do. Here’s the not-so-secret: I work more than 40 hours a week, not counting dance stuff. Get a job that allows you to work remotely and…read more →

Relief for the Dance-Stressed Body

Relief for the Dance-Stressed Body

Kiz Talks, Aug. 17, 2014 Many people come to social dancing from a non-athletic background. I am one such; I never played sports or bothered much with strenuous activity until I began dancing. That leaves us at a disadvantage in knowing how to take care of the new aches and pains that are often the result of long hours of…read more →

Ode to Collaboration

Ode to Collaboration

Kiz Talks, Aug. 16, 2014 I’ll be honest with you. I’m exhausted. My eyes are burning and feet are sore. Yet I’m full of warm fuzzies. There are so many wonderful people at this festival (DC Bachata Congress). It does me good to chat with people from cities I visited over the last few months and see their progress in…read more →

Why Men Make Better Kizomba Teachers

Why Men Make Better Kizomba Teachers

Kiz Talks, Aug. 14, 2014 Kizomba teachers are valued based on a variety of factors. Probably the main ones are: – dancing ability – YouTube power – approachability – teaching ability Sometimes for dance festival organizers, other factors enter the picture: – a choreographed show for performance – titles won in competition – hiring price – travel expenses And of…read more →

How to Have Flawless Connection in Kizomba: A Primer

How to Have Flawless Connection in Kizomba: A Primer

Kiz Talks, Aug. 13, 2014 Here’s how I teach kizomba connection to beginner students. I will leave more advanced concepts of connection, leading, and following for a future post. I have referenced a couple of my own previous posts as well as some comments from the wonderful Tanya Dimitrova, since she beat me to this topic! Be sure to read…read more →

What level should I be in? Taking off your mask

What level should I be in? Taking off your mask

Kiz Talks, Aug. 12, 2014 Today my blog post is going to be a little different. Damon Stone, a dancer and instructor I admire greatly, a founder of the modern blues dance scene, posted a note today on this topic. With his permission I am reposting large sections of it with a few notes of my own. My words are…read more →

Shining Examples of Community Spirit

Shining Examples of Community Spirit

Kiz Talks, Aug. 10, 2014 Today I’d like to talk about how wonderful people make community happen. I have benefited from the kindness and generosity of so many people since I started dancing, but this weekend I was particularly overwhelmed by three lovely ladies in the Philadelphia area. 1. Alexis Mayer is an aspiring film producer who regularly opens her…read more →

Mixing It Up

Mixing It Up

Kiz Talks, Aug. 9, 2014 Hey guys, just a quick post today! I didn’t get into Philly till 1am and I’m off to teach in Media (an hour away) then head up to a party 2 hours north of Philly. I’m headed out to teach at a tango studio, prior to their Saturday night dance. I’m really pleased to be…read more →

On Media and Memories

On Media and Memories

Kiz Talks, Aug. 8, 2014 Today was my last day at my parents’ house, where I have most of my things in storage. That meant it was my last chance this year for data management – sorting through my backup drives, reorganizing my archives, and planning for how to protect my data as I travel. Confession: I’m a ridiculously organized…read more →

5 Tips for Dancing Kizomba Like an Insider

5 Tips for Dancing Kizomba Like an Insider

Kiz Talks, Aug. 7, 2014 Kizomba dancing has its own culture. That culture has obviously changed over time and isn’t exactly the same from place to place, but here are some common points. These are useful to know when you start traveling to dance, or if you want to set your scene up to be like others internationally. 1. Start…read more →

Six Months!

Six Months!

Kiz Talks, Aug. 6, 2014 It’s been six months since I announced that I’d successfully completed the migration to www.kizombacommunity.com. So what? This site has made it possible to bring together information from all sorts of social media and groups and lists. It gives you category views, nested menus, and a very effective search tool. It’s also equal opportunity- everyone…read more →

Why learning kizomba is easy – but you’re still a badass

Why learning kizomba is easy – but you’re still a badass

Kiz Talks, Aug. 5, 2014 Some time ago I heard about the pyramid theory of languages. Here it is, in essence. Some languages are like a pyramid. They have a very large base of essentials you need in order to communicate at a basic level. Examples would be French, with its extensive rules for agreement with nouns, many verb endings,…read more →

On Juggling

On Juggling

Kiz Talks, Aug. 4, 2014 We’ve been over how much I love analogies! I may have a ball or two too many in the air at the moment. But tell me, which one could I possibly put down? It’s important to me to: – keep up the day job so I have regular income (I teach English as a foreign…read more →

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

Kiz Talks, Aug. 3, 2014 At this time today I was supposed to be hosting a kizomba dance and barbecue on Virginia Beach. The crowning moment of a mini workshop weekend – fun, social, and the essence of summer. But no one can control the rain. People often ask me how I can travel so much, or how I can…read more →

Transforming Your Kizomba Movement (II)

Transforming Your Kizomba Movement (II)

Kiz Talks, Aug. 2, 2014 Section 2: The Two C’s Believe it or not, teaching is a learning process. Seeing what people get confused by and hearing students’ questions makes you better able to anticipate them. And sometimes things suddenly “cllck” and you understand your own dancing in a new way. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but sometime…read more →

How to Transform Your Kizomba Movement (I)

How to Transform Your Kizomba Movement (I)

Kiz Talks, Aug. 1, 2014 As promised! Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this I realized that providing the level of detail I wanted was going to make this WAY to long for one blog post. So I’ve split it into two sections: Basic Movement and The Two C’s. Section 1: Basic Movement First: How to Stand. Yes, I…read more →

Why I Teach Body Movement First

Why I Teach Body Movement First

Kiz Talks, July 31, 2014 In my last several months traveling around the United States to teach kizomba, for the most part I’ve had the freedom to choose what and how I teach. So, I’ve been championing what some find an unconventional approach: body movement first. In many dances, we begin immediately with steps. Occasionally, perhaps, with partnering hold and…read more →

On Learning Styles

On Learning Styles

Kiz Talks, July 30, 2014 I got my degree in education back in 2010. Among things we studied was adaptive instruction – suiting your teaching to the kinds of learners you have in your class. One way of categorizing students was based on senses – visual, auditory, and tactile. Or, in layman’s terms, seeing, hearing, and doing. As dance is…read more →

On Sharing

On Sharing

Kiz Talks, July 29, 2014 Dear Kizomba Community: It’s my birthday, and the start of a new year of my life seems like a good time to make a resolution. Here it is: SHARE MORE. And I’m going to start with a month-long challenge to BLOG DAILY. This latest tour, traveling around the US by bus to teach kizomba, has…read more →

Kiz Talks, July 4, 2014: Interdependence

Kiz Talks, July 4, 2014: Interdependence

People have been telling me for a while I should share my own thoughts and stories instead of just interviewing other people. Well, here’s my first video blog! I share my vision for Kizomba Community. Happy “Interdependence Day”!

Changing Roles: Reflections on Leading and Following

Changing Roles: Reflections on Leading and Following

Florian and I had the idea to do some filming in NYC on a gorgeous spring day. We decided on locations, found someone to film, and were choosing music when I said – “You know what? I’d like us to do one video where you lead and one where I lead.” After all, we’d been practicing both roles together from…read more →

So you want to learn that style…

So you want to learn that style…

Hi everyone! Several people have contacted me recently about buying my styling videos. I realized I hadn’t made that process very clear here on the site, so I’ve made a new page to make it simple. Here’s a summary for those of you who can’t wait to click: Check out the preview and read the video information here. Then e-mail…read more →

Kizomba Styling: Freedom for Followers?

Kizomba Styling: Freedom for Followers?

Recently, some people looking at the preview video for my series on styling in kizomba began debating on Facebook just how much freedom a follower actually has for expression. This is a topic that is close to my heart, and I’m glad that people in the community are thinking about this critically. I’d like to start out by saying that…read more →