Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Appalachian State University as well as an adult education certification from Cambridge. Her years as a language teacher both in the classroom and in individual online lessons have given her considerable experience in designing curricula, breaking down ideas to be easily understood, and adapting instruction to the needs of her students.
As a dance teacher, Rachel delights in helping others grow in their ability to express themselves musically, both by studying particular styles and by incorporating diverse elements into a unique personal style. She also believes in a leading and following dynamic in which partners connect with and inspire one another to dance creatively.
Contact Rachel for all bookings. She is available for private lessons, special guest classes, weekend workshops, and demos. Pricing varies by type of organization and length of engagement. Send her a message for a quote.
**Special on private lessons: 60 Euro/hour for workshop participants**
Kizomba Workshop Descriptions
The Heart of Kizomba
So you’ve figured out that there’s something else out there besides zumba – now what? Learn the four basic steps that are all you need to dance an entire evening of kizomba. We’ll also discover how to create a safe, intimate connection with our partners. Get ready to dance the night away!
OPEN LEVEL CLASSES
Take a Moment
Kizomba is traditionally danced in packed-out backyards, basements, clubs, and other tight quarters. You don’t need to cover a lot of ground to create a beautiful moment with your partner. Incorporate a few direction changes, a level change and maybe a dip along with your basics and you’ll be set. Let’s get lost in the music!
Kizomba comes in many flavors these days, but nearly every song has a part where it drops to a smooth, simple sound. This is the time to focus on connection and play with body movement. We’ll explore a few of the isolations and controlled transitions that make sense in these breaks. We’ll start out working separately, gradually incorporating the movement into our partnerwork. Have you heard of kizomba’s sexier little cousin, tarraxinha? We’ll check out some ideas for blending tarraxinha movements into these sensual moments of kizomba, including how leaders can get the hands right, followers can play with pelvis movement, and we can maintain a safe but intimate connection.
Kizomba is all about the connection between you and your partner, and how you feel the music together. We often think of the sensual aspect of kizomba, but there are many times the music invites us to have fun! We’ll try out a few ways to be playful and musical together.
Leading and Following Technique Intensive
Kizomba is about so much more than steps. What we look for is an amazing close connection, an effortless communication, a beautiful partnership. Come learn how to achieve that flow with your partner. We’ll get into the details of leading with confidence and clarity as well as following with lightness and energy. We’ll also discover how to create a safe, intimate connection with our partners.
Saida, Sortie, Exit
You’ve heard it called different things, but this is definitely the trademark of kizomba. We’ll navigate the difference between outside partner steps and exiting in kizomba. By the end of class you’ll have mastered the men’s and ladies’ saida, with some takeaways for variations in footwork and styling as well.
Saida is one of the most popular steps of kizomba, which means it’s everywhere. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some options for its execution? We’ll look at some fun footwork and styling options for both men’s and ladies’ saidas. Get ready to switch it up!
About Face! Fun with Pivots
So many of the effortless moves you’ve admired in modern kizomba are based in perfect pivot technique. Get the movement, leading and following figured out, then learn a few steps that depend on them. You’ll be gliding on the floor in no time!
Dancing Hip to Hip
We’re used to dancing lined up, or on each other’s right sides for men’s and ladies’ exits. Come discover the technique for dancing on your partner’s other side and how to exploit that technique to do a whole variety of moves. Start switching it up!
Transitions: Changing Positions and Directions
Ever feel like you’re stuck in linear motion? We’ll explore different ways of moving into open or promenade position as well as many ways of resuming exit or closed position. Have fun with moving in and out subtly or opening & closing with panache. Never feel stuck again!
Dynamic Tempo Changes
In this class, technique and musicality are at the forefront. Come discover how to move smoothly with your partner through those stretched-out moments of melody. Extend a moment fluidly without getting stuck. Achieve syncopations while staying relaxed and enjoying a comfortable connection. We’ll play with dynamic accelerations, slow melts, and freezes.
Foot slides, leg lifts, and other tricks
Two people moving as one is magical, but learning to use dissociation opens up a world of possibilities in your dancing. This is not your typical class with a few choreographed moves that fail more often than not on the social floor. We’ll dig deep into the technique for creating dissociation, making use of different points of connection, and then adding the visual elements that make these moves so memorable and appealing. Armed with the right technique, soon you’ll be creating your own tricks!
The Wonders of Dissociation
Much of the time in kizomba, your partner does what you do, as a mirror image. We’ll explore ways to multiply your possibilities of expression through dissociation. For leaders, how to clearly guide the follower when you feet or legs or body are doing something different from hers. For followers, how to pay attention to different points of connection, understand weight shifts that are led in dissociation, and even a chance to add your own flair in that space.
Playing with Textures
As we go about our daily lives, we don’t give much thought to how we get around – our feet just carry us. When we enter the world of dance, we learn to pay attention to weight changes and the way we step. This class will take you beyond that to considering the spectrum of possibilities that exist for steps and weight changes, including syncopated steps, touch steps, taps, pivots, and more. We’ll try out several kizomba moves that encourage us to play with dynamic weight changes. Come transform the texture of your dance!
Hack the Dance – Empowering Followers
Followers: Ever feel limited by your leader? Do you listen to the music and long for someone to guide you through a masterful movement interpretation? Remember that you are not just an extension of a leader’s will, but a dancer in your own right! We’ll explore a few levels of hacking the dance – ways of modifying steps subtly, variation options that add flavor without disrupting, and even possibilities for offering nonverbal suggestions or inspiration to your leader, inviting them to listen to the music as you do.
Leaders: Come learn the subtle art of listening while leading. Discover how to leave space for your follower, accept suggestions, as well as veto with grace.
Intro to Afro House
Afro House takes the energy level through the roof! We’re going to learn some awesome moves and isolations so you can get your solo groove on when the African beats play. Get ready to let loose the fun at the next party!
Intro to Semba
Tired of being left out when the music turns upbeat? Discover the dance that fathered kizomba, full of playful interaction and chances to show your creativity. Don’t worry, we’ll start simple and have you showing off in no time.
Fun Semba Moves
Semba is all about having fun with your partner. In this class we’ll take a look at some moves that will leave you and your partner grinning at each other.
Sometimes the tempo can really get pushed high in semba. Do fast beats set your heart racing? In this class we’ll look at how to speed up without freaking out. Keep your lead and follow clear without getting tense. We’ll check out some variations that bring the “WHEE!” feeling to quick footwork.
Make no mistake, this is a dance to do with someone you want to get very close to. We’ll start by getting comfortable with the particular hold of tarraxinha, with some tips on how to keep it clean – or not! For leads, we’ll play around with leading on-the-spot movement. For follows, we’ll check out both how to defend yourself politely in the event of unwanted intimacy as well as how to up the sensuality with confidence. You’ll leave ready to take on that “little screw.”
Kizomba Body Movement
You’ve seen the videos. You crave that movement that has been described as “creamy,” “gooey,” and “sensual.” We’ll explore a few of the isolations and controlled transitions that are the hallmark of kizomba. We’ll start out working separately, gradually incorporating the movement into our normal kizomba steps. Then we’ll come together with our partners to discover how we can layer styling in without interfering without partners, as well as how to lead and follow styling suggestions.
I Love the Way You Move!
Ask around about who people love dancing with, and you’ll quickly discover – it’s not so much about WHAT they do as it is HOW they do it. In just a couple of hours, we’ll explore the movement signatures of every style you need for a kizomba social: semba, kizomba, tarraxinha, and urban kizomba. Body movement, connection, holds, stepping, lead, follow, and so much more – come get it all sorted out not just in your head but in your body!
Ginga Across Styles – Semba, Kizomba, Tarraxinha
Ginga is not just ladies styling – it is everything captivating about the way a woman moves. With attention to the stylistic differences of semba, kizomba, and tarraxinha, we will consider how to make our steps seamless, how to vary and communicate our energy, and how to use specific movements to make our dance entrancing.
Kizomba Ladies’ Styling (Men Invited)
Styling in kizomba is integral to our dance, not something we do separately somewhere in the middle. It is movement that shows our interpretation of what we hear and feel in the music. Learning styling also helps us recognize or execute certain leads – leading movement with your whole body is both sensual and comfortable. For each movement we explore, ideas will be given about in which steps we can use them, as well as how leads might invite us to use them. We’ll also discuss how to extend our range of movement safely and how to be expressive without being obstructive. Bring out that ginga!
*class not limited to ladies, but no spectators will be allowed
Taking Ginga to the Next Level
Ginga should permeate our dancing, affecting every step we take in kizomba. Get ready to discover a huge range of isolations, transitions, and embellishments that will help you make each move your own. Smooth or staccato, swift or slow, you’ll exude confidence after this class!
Blues Dancing Classes
– All Level Classes –
Introduction to American Blues Dancing
Blues dancing comes from a long tradition of African American dancing to different kinds of blues music across the United States. We’ll start out by discovering the grounded movement that is the foundation of blues movement. We’ll try a few different ways of connecting with a partner in blues, and how to transition between them. Then we’ll explore some key moves that will have you ready to dance musically on the social floor.
Solo Blues Sampler
Blues dancing today draws from a wealth of African roots dances done in different parts of the United States. Explore a sampling of vocabulary that can be done alone as well as built into your partnered blues dancing. This class is different every time, but is always about grounded movement initiated from the center.
Get Hip to Solo Blues
Some would argue the pelvis is paramount when it comes to blues dancing. This workshop will focus on moves that feature our hips. Be ready to get them swinging, circling, and sliding – we’ll have you ready for breakaway in no time!
We want to make sure the mojo is flowing all the way to the tips of our limbs! In this second workshop we’ll explore moves that spotlight arms and legs. You know that awkward feeling – “What am I supposed to do with this arm?” Bid it farewell and get your whole body engaged in delightful solo blues movement!
Call and Response
A brilliant thing about blues dancing is the possibility to move into open position or breakaway, with each partner taking turns in a dialogue of movement. Learn some useful vocabulary as well as how to take inspiration from your partner to create new variations and shapes in your own dancing!
One of the beautiful things about blues is the incredible range of possibilities it offers. In this class, rather than focusing on being ‘correct,’ we will explore a variety of ways to express ourselves to the music and connect with our partners. You’ll learn neat ways to surprise, delight, and inspire each other.
Ask someone what blue music is, and they’re likely to hum a famous Chicago blues riff: da-NA-na-na-NA pum-pum pum-pum. In this class we’ll start with the foundations for moving to Chicago Blues music: pulse, posture, timing, tone, and connection. But Chicago Blues is all about groovin’, so we’ll spice things up with hip action, upper body movement, turns, and rhythm variation as well.
Moving Around the Ballroom
Ballroomin’ Blues developed around the jazz blues that was played in ballrooms in the American North like the Savoy Club and Cotton Club. With plenty of space to play with, this style is characterized by upright posture and plenty of traveling. We’ll work on dynamic movement and have some fun changing positions and turning.
The Art of Close Connection
Whether in drag blues, ballrooming, or cuddly fusion dancing, close-body connection is a beautiful way for two dancers to move as one. Achieving the desired fluidity takes engagement on both sides, though! Get the technique you need to make this lead and follow dynamic effortless.
With You by My Side
In blues dancing, we spend a lot of our time dancing face to face. But it’s also sweet to have a partner right by your side! We’ll take a simple position change and layer in a few new dimensions to give you some sweet new moves – and the know-how to keep creating more.
Smooth Movement and Slow Motion
How do you create that beautiful feeling of flow? Discover the technique you need to move smoothly with your partner through those stretched-out moments of melody. Achieve slow motion while staying relaxed and enjoying a comfortable connection.
When the music speeds up, some dancers start to feel stressed. The dance floor suddenly gets less crowded. But there’s no reason to fear! In this workshop we’ll discover the joy of fast blues dancing. Explore moves that are well-suited to faster tempos and learn technique that will help you stay relaxed. By the time the social rolls around, you’ll be ready to join the upbeat party on the floor.
Tight Quarters, Creative Fun
Blues dancing is often done in places that don’t offer much room to move around in. Whether it’s dancing to live music in a bar or heading into a full venue at a dance weekend, you don’t want to feel like you’ve run out of options when your space is limited. We will learn new moves and explore elements that will expand your creative ideas – all while avoiding bumping into people.
When the venue is tiny or crowded, or you just want to take time to be near your partner, Micro Blues is the perfect fit. Come have a look at the possibilities of a few different close connections. Discover the intricacies of expressing yourself in micro as well as turning up the magnification of your listening skills. We’ll explore the full range of micro-dancing, from tiniest whisper of movement to moves that play with limited space.
– Intermediate Classes –
Freezing, Melting, and Other Dynamic Changes
The music we dance to today is layered and variable. Shouldn’t our dancing be equally interesting? In this class, technique and musicality are at the forefront. We’ll play with dynamic accelerations, slow melts, and freezes.
Blues Connection: Squish and Stretch
Get ready to dive deep into connection technique so we can unlock some amazing possibilities in our dance. We’ll experiment with building compression and stretch, as well as how to use leverage to smoothly initiate wonderfully dynamic maneuvers. Expect technique exercises as well as challenging, awesome moves
Transitions and Positions
Ever feel like you’re stuck in one position? This class will equip you with all the technique you need for transitioning from and to closed position, open position, and outside partner while maintaining good connection. We’ll explore several steps and moves that vary our orientation to one another and transitioning smoothly. We all have our go-to patterns; this class will free you up to incorporate a wealth of other dance vocabulary. Never feel stuck again!
You are invited to discover the secrets behind some “sleight-of-foot” tricks that will surprise, delight, and add magic to your partnered blues dancing. We’ll explore using alternative connection points and dissociation to master illusions. Leave this workshop with all new flair!
Dynamic Shifts in Weight
As we go about our daily lives, we don’t give much thought to how we get around – our feet just carry us. When we enter the world of dance, we learn to pay attention to weight changes and the way we step. This class will take you beyond that to considering the spectrum of possibilities that exist for steps and weight changes, including syncopated steps, touch steps, taps, pivots, and more. We’ll try out several moves that encourage us to play with dynamic weight changes.
There are a huge range of qualities we can change in our blues dancing. We have a tendency to pay more attention to some (tempo, rhythm, direction, connection…) than others. In this class we will take time to explore some other possibilities we can use for expressive movement, including sharp and smooth textures, lines and curves, moods and energy. Come transform the texture of your dance!
Explore the intersection of kizomba and blues dancing!
Kizomba My Blues
Kizomba is an African dance that has grown internationally in the last 20 years. Its close embrace and African rhythms lend themselves to crossover in blues. We’ll explore the safe, relaxed intimacy of kizomba connection, then learn a few sweet moves you can steal to use on the blues floor.
Steal that Style: Kizomba Body Movement
You’ve seen the videos. You crave that movement that has been described as “creamy,” “gooey,” and “sensual.” We’ll explore a few of the isolations and controlled transitions that are the hallmark of kizomba, working first individually and then discovering how to incorporate them for solo style as well as in micro-leads.
Steal that Style: Kizomba Leg & Foot Tricks
Two people moving as one is magical, but learning to use alternative connection points and dissociation will open up a world of possibilities in your dancing. We’ll start with simple pivots and then experiment with manipulating our steps to build into slides, lifts, and catches!
Steal that Style: Kizomba Styling for Follows
We all know that it isn’t what you do – it’s the way that you do it. Styling is movement that allows follows to show our interpretation of what we hear and feel in the music. And let’s face it: it not only feels glorious, it makes us look masterful in our sensuality. We’ll explore several isolations showcased in kizomba, looking at how to extend our range of movement safely as well as how to move in a fluid, controlled fashion. Finally, we’ll dance to some different genres of music, seeing how we can shift and adjust our movement to fit what we hear and feel musically.
Kizomba Styling Videos
Rachel has also created a series of instructional videos on kizomba styling. For each movement, ideas are given about in which steps we can use them, as well as what leads might invite us to use them. While the videos are primarily aimed at ladies, men will also benefit from learning these essential movements. Leading movement with your whole body is both sensual and comfortable. Particular attention to leaders’ interest is given in the videos on undulations, quadradinha, and walk with ginga.
Check out the preview then contact Rachel for information about purchasing downloadable content or receiving a DVD.