Rachel Cassandra is a teacher and dancer originally from New York, now living permanently in Stuttgart, Germany. Her passions are dancing, teaching, and connection.
Rachel grew up in a family of musicians, and was active in various choral groups, orchestras, and bands in her school years. It wasn’t until the age of 17, while studying abroad in France, that she first discovered the joys of dancing – strangely enough by joining a group specializing in Hungarian folk dances!
Ballroom dancing provided Rachel a strong foundation in partnered dancing. She soon became known for bringing several friends every week to the local ballroom dance studio. Getting the newcomers up to speed was her first foray into teaching dance.
Rachel then became fascinated by American vernacular jazz dances. Lindy hop, Charleston, solo jazz, Balboa, shag – there were always more reasons to attend classes and stay up to the wee hours dancing.
Rachel 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 started traveling to dance blues. Pretty soon she was going to multiple blues-exclusive events a year, taking classes from the best in the country.
Having completed her teaching degree in 2010, Rachel moved to Morocco to become a language teacher. Latin dancing was the only partner dancing happening there, so she began learning salsa, bachata, and other “street” Latin dances. 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 worked intensively for several years with a variety of teachers to expand her understanding of kizomba and develop her style.
Rachel returned to the USA in September of 2013 and began teaching kizomba on her own. She created the platform “Kizomba Community” to try to help more people get connected to kizomba. From April 2014 to December 2017 Rachel 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 and fusion dancing, which eventually led her in 2017 to her current home in Stuttgart, Germany.
In addition to her mainstays of blues and kizomba, Rachel enjoys a variety of other partner dances including Brazilian Zouk, West Coast Swing, and Argentine tango.
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 solo movement classes. She loves to see people exploring multiple sides of social dancing!