Rachel Cassandra's Bio

Who is Rachel?

keener headshotRachel Cassandra is a teacher and dancer originally from Port Jefferson, New York. Her passions are dancing, teaching, and travel. She loves having the opportunity to connect with dancers all over the world.

Rachel has had an unusual dance journey: highlights include starting off with Hungarian folk dances at age 17, winning the Moroccan salsa championship in 2011, and spending a good chunk of her 20s traveling nonstop to teach kizomba across the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Rachel gave up her nomadic teaching lifestyle when she moved to Stuttgart in 2017. She teaches blues classes for Blues Kitchen Stuttgart and private lessons in kizomba, blues, and ballroom dances. You can contact her about workshop possibilities and check out her YouTube channel.

While she adores following, Rachel spends about half her time leading on the social floor. She is an advocate of gender equality in partner dancing. Not only does she teach leaders’ steps and technique, she encourages everyone to try following and styling classes. She loves to see people exploring both sides of social dancing.

Rachel enjoys a variety of other partner dances including Brazilian Zouk, West Coast Swing, and Argentine tango.

Rachel’s Dance History

Rachel focused primarily on American vernacular jazz dances in her first years of dancing. She got her first taste of blues dancing as it started to infiltrate lindy hop events in 2007 and 2008. Early classes with Mike Leggett, Dave Madison, and Tina Davis whetted her appetite, but it wasn’t till 2011 that she dived in and started traveling all over the USA. Pretty soon she was going to multiple blues-exclusive events a year, taking classes from the best in the country.

A job-related move to Morocco in 2010 brought Rachel to salsa dancing. After intensive training, she and her partner won the national championship at the Morocco Salsa Contest of 2011.

Rachel took an introductory workshop for kizomba while in Casablanca. She was very taken with kizomba, but was limited by geography in her pursuit of this new dance. Later that year at the Carthago Festival in Tunisia, she further kindled her enthusiasm for kizomba in classes with Nelson Campos. She moved to the UK in 2012 to continue her training and to teach kizomba and semba with him. Rachel worked with Nelson to create an organized and adaptive curriculum for multiple levels for use at weekly venues in the UK. In addition, she taught and performed at numerous European festivals. She has worked continuously with a variety of teachers to expand her style.

Rachel returned to the US in September of 2013 and began teaching kizomba on her own. From April 2014 to December 2017 she traveled from event to event with no fixed residence, teaching in 40 US cities as well as in Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Along the way she also began teaching blues dance. In February 2017 she retired from her nomadic lifestyle and settled in Stuttgart, Germany.

I lead

kfbd train laugh

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Awards

11b trophy photo

Rachel has generally not been enthusiastic about competitions, but she was persuaded to compete occasionally and collected a few awards along the way.

Blues

Finals, Jack and Jill, Bambloozled 2013, Washington, D.C.

First Place, Jack and Jill, Feelin’ Blues Festival 2013, Tel Aviv, Israel

Second Place, Strictly Jookin’, Holy City Blues Festival 2013, Charleston, SC

Second Place, Jack and Jill, Holy City Blues Festival 2013, Charleston, SC

Second Place, Novice Jack and Jill, Lindy Focus 2007, Asheville, NC
Kizomba

Third Place, Jack and Jill, 4th International Got Kizomba Festival 2014, San Francisco, CA
->as a leader

Audience’s Choice, Strictly Kizomba, Kizomba Invasion (Mar 2014), Providence, RI

Salsa

First Place (“National Champion”), Morocco Salsa Contest 2011, Casablanca, Morocco

Testimonials

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A sampling of testimonials and positive comments…

“Rachel’s an incredible multidisciplinary dancer and amazing instructor. She breaks things down in simple yet direct ‘dancer’ terms, and has a wonderfully warm and approachable attitude.”

“Great classes yesterday. I like the focus on movements and transitions over patterns. It was a good way to learn it without forcing choreography. However it also allowed me to walk away with a few new “moves” and variations. Thank you for your time and teaching good strategies!”

“I took ‪Rachel’s body movement class this past weekend and it was a big help. She does a great job in breaking down the movements into manageable and fun parts. The entire class was engaged in the lesson and having a great time. As a guy, some of the moves were different from anything that I had ever tried to do before and without some detailed instruction I probably wouldn’t have been able to figure it out on my own. This was my first Kizomba class and I am looking forward to more!”

“Thank you! Your detail in each explanation and demonstration was so helpful. Not to mention funny. Thanks for the honesty and humor.”

“It’s like the Kizomba Gods were smiling down on me when they brought you here! I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done here!!!!”

“Rachel is bright, a little nutty, energetic and also very clear in her instructions. I dug. Definitely recommend taking a workshop with her sometime.”

“You totally changed my preconceptions of a dance I thought I’d hate, and ended up loving!”

“Rachel Cassandra! I was truly blown away and inspired by the knowledge, talent, and experience that you possess as a Kizomba dancer and teacher! One of the best leads I’ve danced with yet Can’t wait for you to come back!

“1) Rachel is one of the best Kizomba instructors! I’ve taken classes with many instructors and she is an impressive educator.
2) You will learn how to dance Kizomba properly. She will incorporate different methods to help better educate you about Kizomba. 
3) You will have a beautiful encounter with a dance I love so dearly.
So, I hope your encounter will be a enlightening as mine yesterday. Come out for a Kizomba Rachel Cassandra Encounter!!!!”

“Thank you Rachel Cassandra for being a rock for women, as well as being one of the hardest working instructors in dance that I’ve seen yet.”

“RACHEL!! You can’t just get me hooked on this and LEAVE!!! I can’t even get any work done (in a timely manner) for being so distracted by this dance today! I’ve danced various styles of Latin dance since 2007, but it’s been a long time, if ever, that I FELT something for a dance the way I did kizomba.”

“Loved the class. You are such a wonderful teacher, great energy.”

“Rachel Cassandra sure knows how to show beginner Kizomba enthusiasts a good time.”

“Truth be told, I really would like to get my students around you. You really smoothed out my dance during that private lesson and I want them to get exposed to your teaching.”

“Quick shout out to Rachel Cassandra. Had a great time this weekend at Kizomba Beach Invasion! learning what my booty is truly capable of! What an awesome class!”

“I know you hear this a lot from a ton of people, but I must share with you that I really enjoy dancing with you Rachel. You are really awesome! The reason I say that is because you give me the greatest freedom to dive into the music however I want and allow me to have fun on the dance floor. I always love that when it comes to my dance partners and I felt I needed to express my appreciation for that to you. It was great dancing with you again this weekend”

“Thanks Rachel. Great class and fun to meet you and hear a bit about your teaching/life. I’m going to be toe-heel stepping around my apartment for days, imagining I am a train and trying for that smooth weight transfer that I did not master in class tonight.”

“Rachel Cassandra. Her mastery of detail will supercharge your Kizomba for both men & women. You need this in your life.”

“Kizomba is like sugary food – the more if it you have, the more you crave itsmile emoticon I had such a great time learning Kizomba this weekend. You’re an AMAZING teacher Rachel!”

“Rachel, I learned so much from you in a very short class. You are an awesome teacher. In addition, you are an awesome person!!”

“You’re connection personified…”

“You kept me positive about learning a new dance that I felt like I was never gonna get the hang of! You are a bad ass teacher and I loved getting to know you Rachel Cassandra!”

“The privates I took with you were awesome … You were positive and uplifting. Great learning experience. Gracias”

“Rachel, there’s nobody like you on earth. Whenever I dance with you, it is a sort of heaven.”

“You are the true essence of being a teacher. Many take on the challenge but few can connect the dots for so many different types of students. I thank you and appreciate you.”

“You planted the seed of partnered dance confidence in me and forever changed how I approach the community.”

In French…

“La classe a ete magnifique et vous etiez superbe. Pour un vrai debutant, je crois avoir fait presqu’aussi bien que ceux dansaient bien longtemps avant moi; grace a votre facon d’encourager et d’enseigner. C’est bien dommage que vous n’enseignez pas ici a plein temps.”

“Elle est incroyable. C’est come je suis dans les nuages. C’est comme si je suis un bijou, je me sens entouree comme si je suis quelque chose de fragile.”

“Tu as le douceur d’une femme, enfin tu danses comme on aimerait que les mecs dansent avec nous.”

Where Rachel Has Performed

kfbd sweet lead torySept. 25, 2015: Melbourne Kizomba Festival, Melbourne, AU
with Clement Maura

April 28, 2019: Dance World Stuttgart, Germany
with BluesKitchen Stuttgart

September 11, 2015: Doudoule Latin Dance Camp, Gold Coast, AU

August 1, 2015: Australian Kizomba Festival, Melbourne, AU with Coral Tsui

July 16, 2015: Kizomba Grooves, Utrecht, NL

April 4, 2015: Kizomba Takes Two! Denver, CO
with Charles Ogar

March 17, 2015: Kizomba Fusion, San Francisco, CA
with Coral Tsui

January 10, 2015: Baile Carrboro, Carrboro, NC
with Rachel Meth

Torquay performance

September 13, 2014: Kielzomba, Kiel, Germany
with Assal T

July 11, 2014: Take Off! A Kizomba Workshop Weekend, Minneapolis, MN
with Guy Fankam

April 6, 2014: The Melting Pot by Fusion NYC, New York City
with Florian Tep

January 25, 2014: Private event, Brooklyn, NY
with Florian Tep

October 6, 2013: Kizomba for Blues Dancers, Washington, DC
with Tory G

August 10-11, 2013: KIelZOMBA Festival, Kiel, Germany

With Nelson Campos:

July 5-7, 2013: Summer Salsa Weekender by Salsa Feel the Heat, Wigan, UK

June 14-16, 2013: Liege International Salsa Congress, Liege, Belgium

March 30, 2013: Cambridge Kizombachata Fusion, Cambridge, UK

March 14-16, 2013: Antwerp Afro Latin Dance Congress

February 23-25, 2013: Latinfest Salsa Weekender, Torquay, UK

February 16, 2013: Cambridge Kizombachata Fusion, Cambridge, UK

February 8-9, 2013, Wigan Salsa All-Dayer, Wigan, UK

November 9-10, 2013: Kizomba Bootcamp, Budapest, Hungary

October 12-14, 2013: Kizomba-Semba Dance Festival, Waterford, Ireland

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Where Rachel Has Taught

November 1, 2020: Blues workshops, Erlangen, Germany

March 7, 2020: Blues workshops, Frankfurt, Germany

January-March, 2020: Biweekly Thursday blues lessons, Stuttgart, Germany

2019: Biweekly Thursday blues lessons, Stuttgart, Germany

December 6-8, 2019: Lazy Blues, Stuttgart, Germany

September 6-8, 2019: Vienna Blues Melange, Vienna, Austria

May 20, 2019: Siren City Blues, Norfolk, Virginia

April 13-14, 2019: Blues workshops, Nuremberg, Germany

November 23-25, 2018: Lazy Blues, Stuttgart, Germany

October 27-29, 2018: Octoblues, Dortmund, Germany

June 22-24, 2018: Blues workshops, Freiburg, Germany

April 21, 2018: Beginner blues workshop, Stuttgart, Germany

March 17, 2018: Beginner blues workshop, Stuttgart, Germany

February 17, 2018: Beginner blues workshop, Stuttgart, Germany

January 13, 2018: Fun with Turns workshop, Stuttgart, Germany

2018: Weekly or biweekly Thursday blues lessons, Stuttgart, Germany

November 25, 2017: Zouksters Kizomba workshops, Braunschweig, Germany

October 14, 2017: Tight Quarters workshop, Stuttgart, Germany

September 15-17, 2017: Octoblues, Dortmund, Germany

September 9, 2017: Blues Magic workshop, Stuttgart, Germany

August 12, 2017: Blues Holiday workshop, Nuremberg, Germany

2017: Weekly Thursday blues lessons, Stuttgart, Germany

December 31, 2016: Kizomba & Zouk workshops, Asheville, NC

December 30, 2016: Hot Bachata Night, Asheville, NC

December 7, 2016: Roc Kizomba Guest workshops, Rochester, NY

November 4, 2016: aPasionada, Raleigh, NC

October 28, 2016: Kizomba Fundamentals, Asheville, NC

October 21, 2016: Kizomba Night, Atlanta, GA

October 19, 2016: DJX Fusion Weeknight, Philadelphia, PA

August 9, 2016: Tuesday’s Kizomba, Richmond, VA

July 24, 2016: Summer Kizomba Sunday, Chino Hills, CA

July 17, 2016: Kizomba workshops, Flagstaff, AZ

July 16, 2016: Kizomba workshops, Phoenix, AZ

July 8-10, 2016: Dance Out Loud: Closer Encounters, San Diego, CA

June 18, 2016: Kizz All Night, Philadelphia, PA

June 18, 2016: Fusion workshop at Take the Lead, Philadelphia, PA

June 15, 2016: DJX Fusion weeknight, Philadelphia, PA

June 12, 2016: Tarraxinha Magic, Philadelphia, PA

Apr 23, 2016: Kizomba Workshops and Fusion Social, Durham, NC

Mar 25, 2016: Indigo Blues, Fort Collins, CO

Mar 17, 2016: Ginga & Beyond, Denver, CO

Mar 12, 2016: Kizomba & Blues Dance Blowout, Honolulu, HI

Feb 20, 2016: Attune to Blues, Sydney, AU

Feb 10-13, 2016: Canberra Kizomba Week, Canberra, AU

Jan 29, 2016: Kizomba at Zero 11, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

kfbd demo one on oneDec 20, 2015: Kizomba and Tango in the Park, Hong Kong

Dec 19, 2015: Blues Workshops, Hong Kong

Dec 17, 2015: Intermediate Kizomba Intensive, Hong Kong

Dec 14, 2015: Sexy Styling, Hong Kong

Nov 4 & 5, 2015: Adelaide Kizomba Week, Adelaide, AU

Nov 1, 2015: Kiz-Plus Workshops, Adelaide, AU

Oct 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2015: Transform Your Kizomba! Sydney, AU

Oct 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2015: Just for Us! Ginga and Following Workshops, Sydney, AU

Oct 5 and 19, 2015: Solo Blues Workshops, Sydney, AU

Oct 1, 2015: Juke Joint Intro to Blues, Sydney, AU

Sept 29, 2015: Latin Lover Kizomba Workshop, Melbourne, AU

Sept 26, 2015: Breakdown Blues, Melbourne, AU

Sept 25-27, 2015: Melbourne Kizomba Festival, Melbourne, AU

Sept 23, 2015: Kizomba & Semba Workshop, Byron Bay, AU

Sept 20, 2015: Casablanca Kizomba Workshop, Brisbane, AU

Sept 17, 2015: Kizomba Introduction, Gold Coast, AU

Sept 16, 2015: Kizomba & Semba Workshop, Byron Bay, AU

Sept 2-6, 2015: Grand Canyon Salsa Festival, Flagstaff, AZ

Aug 23, 2015: Summer Kizomba Sunday, Inland Empire, CA

Aug 22, 2015: All-Levels Kizomba Workshop, Portland, OR

Aug 17-21, 2015: 5-Day Kizomba Intensive, Portland, OR

Aug 8-9, 2015: Kizomba & American Blues Weekend, Sydney, AU

Aug 4, 2015: Blues Fusion Workshop, Melbourne, AU

July 30-Aug 2, 2015: Australian Kizomba Festival, Melbourne, AU

May 18, 2015: Kizomba Heart 2 Heart, Brooklyn, NY

May 16, 2015: Small Group Kizomba Intensives, Boston, MA

May 14, 2015: Sensual Kizomba Workshop, Boston, MA

May 10, 2015: Intensive Kizomba Workshop, Portland, ME

May 3-6, 2015: ArtInspired Kizomba Workshops, Newport News, VA

May 2: All-Night Kizomba Beach Party, Virginia Beach, VA

April 25, 2015: Dance Fusion Saturday, Durham, NC

April 25, 2015: All-levels kizomba workshop, Charlotte, NC

April 13, 2015: Bunda! Ladies’ Styling workshop, Denver, CO

April 10, 2015: Indigo Blues Fusion workshop, Fort Collins, CO

April 4, 2015: Kizomba Takes TWO! Denver, CO
(with Charles Ogar)

March 28-29, 2015: Intermediate Kizomba Weekender, Portland, OR

March 17, 2015: Kizomba Fusion at Shades, San Francisco, CA

March 10, 2015: Learn Kizomba in a Day!, Las Vegas, NV

February 22, 2015: Kizomba and Semba workshops, Flagstaff, AZ

February 21, 2015: Kizomba workshop, Phoenix, AZ

February 14, 2015: The Art of Connection, Nashville, TN

February 9, 2015: Take a Moment for Kizomba, Indy! Indianapolis, IN

February 7-8, 2015: Cleveland Kizomba Weekend, OH

February 4, 2015: Kizomba Ladies’ Styling, Philadelphia, PA

January 31, 2015: Kizomba My Blues at the Winter Blues, Greenville, SC

January 27, 2015: I Like the Way You Move!, Atlanta, GA

January 10, 2015: Kiz Me in the New Year, Durham, NC

January 10, 2015: Playful Kizomba at Baile Carrboro, Carrboro, NC

January 3, 2015: Learn Kizomba in a Day, Charlotte, NC

December 20, 2014: Kizomba Workshop at Born 2 Dance, Vienna, VA

December 17, 2014: Kiz Me Before Christmas, Philadelphia, PA

December 11, 2014: Special Kizomba Workshop at Moves & Vibes, Boston, MA

November 11, 2014: Kizomba Master Class, Lausanne, Switzerland

August 15-17, 2014: DC Bachata Congress, Washington, D.C.
(with Florian Tep)

August 11, 2014: Kizomba Workshop and Social Clinic, Philadelphia, PA

August 9, 2014: Kizomba Workshop, Media, PA

August 2-3, 2014: Kizomba Beach Invasion, Virginia Beach, VA

July 20, 2014: Aspen Blues Recess, Paonia, CO

July 11-13, 2014: Take Off: A Kizomba Workshop Weekend, Minneapolis, MN

July 8, 2014: Special kizomba workshops, Cleveland, OH

July 6, 2014: Kizomba Independence for Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

kiel teaching feedbackJune 29, 2014: Intro to Kizomba, Durham, NC

June 25, 2014: Ladies’ Styling Taster, Nashville, TN

June 22, 2014: Special Kizomba Workshop, Nashville, TN

June 18, 2014: Special Kizomba Workshop, New Orleans, LA

June 12-13, 2014: Intro to Kizomba, Orlando, FL

June 5, 2014: Intro to Kizomba, Philadelphia, PA

June 1, 2014: Kizomba Fusion, NYC

May 21, 2014: Kizomba Fusion Taster, Philadelphia, PA

May 18, 2014: Intro to Kizomba, Pittsburgh, PA

May 13-14, 2014: Kizomba Workshops, Minneapolis, MN

May 4, 2014: Kizomba Fusion, Norfolk, VA

Mar. 28, 2014: Intro to Kizomba, Denver, CO

Mar. 25, 2014: Discover Kizomba, Boulder, CO

Mar. 23, 2014: Kizomba and Fusion, Portland, OR

Feb. 10, 2014: Kizomba for Blues Dancers, Norfolk, VA

Dec. 15, 2013: Kizomba Taster at the Winter Blues, Greenville, SC

Dec. 6, 2013: Kizomba for Blues Dancers, Washington, DC

Oct. 31, 2013: Intro to Kizomba for Blues Dancers, Denver, CO

Oct. 6, 2013: Kizomba for Blues Dancers, Washington, DC

Aug. 21, 2013: Kizomba for Blues Dancers, London, UK

Aug. 10-11, 2013: KIelZOMBA Festival, Kiel, Germany*

July 5-7, 2013: Summer Salsa Weekender by Salsa Feel the Heat, Wigan, UK*

June 14-16, 2013: Liege International Salsa Congress, Liege, Belgium*

June 1-2, 2013: Bolingo Festival, London, UK*

May 18, 2013: Kizomba Master Class, Limerick, Ireland*

April 26-28, 2013: Teesside Latin Dance Festival, Teesside, UK*

April 24, 2013: Kizomba and Semba Night, Dublin, Ireland

April 6, 2013: Sabazouki Night, Dublin, Ireland

March 30: Cambridge Kizombachata Fusion, Cambridge, UK*

March 14-16, 2013: Antwerp Afro Latin Dance Congress*

Feb. 23-25, 2013: Latinfest Salsa Weekender, Torquay, UK*

Feb. 16, 2013: Cambridge Kizombachata Fusion, Cambridge, UK*

Feb. 8-9, 2013, Wigan Salsa All-Dayer, Wigan, UK*

Feb. 1, 2013: Kizomba and Salsa Gala Night, Kings’ Hill, UK*

February-March, 2013: Thursday Kizomba Intensive Series, Cambridge, UK*

February-April, 2013: Tuesday Kizomba and Salsa Nights, Maidstone, UK*

Jan. 18, 2013: Kizomba Taster for Blues Dancers, Washington, D.C.

Jan. 18, 2013: Kizomba Taster for Blues Dancers, Baltimore, MD

Dec. 8, 2012: Charity Ball, Kings Hill, UK*

Nov. 24, 2012: Cambridge Sensual Infusion, Cambridge, UK*

Nov. 9-10, 2012: Kizomba Bootcamp, Budapest, Hungary*

Nov. 3-4, 2012: Salsa and Kizomba Intensive Workshops, Zurich, Switzerland*

Oct. 12-14, 2012: Kizomba-Semba Dance Festival, Waterford, Ireland*

October-December Thursday Kizomba at Caso do Semba, London, UK*

October-December Friday Salsa and Kizomba, Kings Hill, UK*

September-December Tuesday Salsa and Kizomba, Folkestone, UK*

*with Nelson Campos