Winner of the People's Choice Award in the 2010 Australian Bellydance Competition, Rachel is currently one of the most sought-after performers in Sydney, entertaining audiences at restaurants and function centres from the coast to the mountains.
She is recognised as a polished, dynamic performer with a diverse repertoire and a passion for engaging her audience.
She brings the same energy and passion to students in her belly dance classes at Inspire! Bellydance and Zumba Fitness.
The 2006 Amera's Palace Award was given to Rachel in appreciation of the consistently positive feedback given by customers, who commented on her performance skill, professional manner, polished appearance and quality Egyptian costumes, happy and bubbly personality, and ability to make every party a success. The award also acknowledged Rachel's commitment to the dance and respect for the culture, and her efforts in continually developing her dance technique by visiting Egypt to learn from the world's top dancers, and attending master workshops with visiting teachers. Read what more customers say about Rachel's performances.
Rachel continues to train and develop her dancing by participating in advanced classes and rehearsals every week, as well as attending workshops, supporting other performers, and teaching. She is an active member of two groups: Hathor Dance Theatre, a contemporary company focussing on high-level Bellydance and World Fusion; and Farrah ~ The Egyptian Dance Artists, an association dedicated to presenting a range of traditional and modern Egyptian dance forms. She is the 2009 President of Farrah, as well as one of its principal teachers. Read more about the troupes here. In addition, Rachel is extending her performance skills by training in acting and improvisation.
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Middle Eastern people are often surprised that an "Aussie" would be interested in learning the dance of a different culture. Once she began learning about it, though, she found the culture fascinating, and the music intoxicating. Over the years she has been learning Middle Eastern Dance, it has gone from a hobby to a passion - her life is now devoted to dance. As Rachel says, "this dance is so rich! The more I learn, the more I discover remains to be learnt."
In August 2010, Rachel was recognised as one of Australia's top dancers, being selected as one of just 6 finalists from across Australia and New Zealand in the Belly Dance Star Awards, where she took out the People's Choice Award. In 2006 she was granted the Amera's Palace Award for outstanding performance, and was a member of both the troupes that received awards (Best Professional Troupe: Hathor Dance Theatre; Award for Cultural Content: Farrah). Back in 2003, at the start of her performance career, she was the winner of third prize in the solo category of the Australian Bellydance Competition, as well as a member of a prize-winning trio in the groups category. Since then, she has performed at numerous Lebanese, Turkish, Persian and other venues throughout Sydney, as well as at concerts, functions and festivals. She hasappeared on Mornings with Kerri-Anne on Channel Nine, as well as on local Turkish and Lebanese television. And in 2002 she received a cultural scholarship from the Turkish government to spend 3 months studying in Istanbul.
In mid 2010, Rachel returned from a 6-week study trip to Egypt where she attended the world's largest bellydance festivals and learnt from leading teachers and performers, especially Amani and Yasmina of Cairo. Here in Sydney, Rachel's primary dance mentors have been Jrisi from Hathor Dance Studio, incorporating contemporary and world dance styles into fusion with Middle Eastern Dance; and Päivi Mielikäinen, who taught her Egyptian folkloric styles and modern Egyptian technique. This training is supplemented by attending workshops and private classes presented by notable Australian bellydancers including Amera, Dounia and Belyssa, as well as international master teachers and choreographers such as Caroline Evanoff, Aida Nour, Mo Geddawi and Magdy El-Leissy. She also has her own school, Inspire! Bellydance and Zumba Fitness, with regular classes in Sydney's east, north and inner west, as well as teaching at Amera's Palace and giving guest workshops at festivals and other studios.
Rachel firmly believes a dancer can never finish learning, so is constantly seeking to further develop her skills by engaging with the Middle Eastern community, travelling to the Middle East, learning about the languages and cultures, and of course taking lessons with the best teachers Sydney (and the world!) has to offer.
During February 2005 and again in June 2010, she travelled to Egypt. As well as taking in the culture and history and beginning to learn the language, she was fortunate enough to take dance lessons with master teachers Raqia Hassan, Mahmoud Reda, Aida Nour and Nagwa Sultan. She returned inspired, with an expanded repertoire and a fabulous new selection of costumes!
She was the recipient of a Turkish government cultural scholarship to spend some time in Istanbul in 2002, and she speaks a little Turkish (biraz türkçe konusuyorum!).
Rachel's early training in Middle Eastern Dance began with Clivia Frieden-Collins at Camp Creative and later developed under Vera Myronenko in Sydney. While living in Germany she learnt with Alev Seidenberg-Erisöz at Studio Saray in Bonn, before being introduced to Despina of Dreaming of Jeannie Bellydance Academy, where she began to perform as a founding member of student troupe "The Genies". She also spent some time studying with Birgit Schnettler in Munster, Germany.
Rachel is also a devotee of Argentine Tango which she has learnt for 3 years, both in Sydney and in the tango's homeland, Bueons Aires, Argentina. She is the current President of Sydney's Argentine tango community association, Tango Synergy. She has degrees in Arts and Science, as well as a Ph.D. in Psychology.
Of course, Rachel is fully insured for all her performances and teaching.