Performing Artist, Instructor & Choreographer

2011
Suhaila Salimpour School of Dance Level 4
2010
Belly Dancer of the Universe Champion
2007
Belly Dance Entertainer of the Year Champion
Belly Dancer of the Year 2nd runner up
2006
Belly Dancer USA Champion
Emerald Rain 'Aphrodite' Champion
2002
Double Crown Belly Dance Champion
1999
Double Crown Duet Champion

Since beginning her bellydance career in 1995, Rachel has become an extremely sought after dancer and instructor. With her highly accredited dance and musical training, this multi-award winning performer has taught workshops and classes across the USA. Based in Southern California, Rachel is San Diego’s number one premier Bellydance entertainment highlight. Rachel continues to teach and perform her incomparable musical interpretation with a great rooted understanding in dance movement, technique, and isolation strength. Her performances are fantastically radiant, full of amazing technique and grace while accompanied by her captivating authentic style. Rachel's artistry brings to the stage a rare and unique element in emotional expression that leaves her audience thirsting for more.

Instructors & Influence

 

Rachel

 

Interview with Oberon for Belly Dancer Magazine

www.BellyDancerMagazine.com

Rakkasah 2007

O. How would you describe your style as a dancer, Rachel?

R. I would describe myself as an athletic, technical dancer, a hard-core teacher and an emotional performer.

O. So, were you driven to perfection right from the beginning?

R. (With Laughter). Oh no. I began dancing because I wanted to wear a belly–dancing costume for halloween and I knew people would ask me to dance in it. I opened the phone book to look for an instructor and found Fariba. I took her package deal and at the end of my lessons — I could close a car door with my hip!

O. She taught you to close the car door with your hip?

R. Yeah — so I was twenty and wanted to go to the Copper Penny for a party, (also my birthday was on the 22nd of October and I was turning 21). I actually made the costume with black lace pantaloons with gold woven in — I got the pattern from a fabric store. I went to the Copper Penny — yes, everyone asked for a move — so I closed the car door with my hip!

O. You continued classes with Fariba?

R. Yes — but for me, I wasn't getting the information that I needed. Fariba was always referring to Aziza who she had kind of placed on a pedestal as the "Unobtainable Belly Dance Goddess" — so that piqued my interest and I began to seek her out.

O. How did you find her?

R. I actually heard about this fabulous dancer working at a restaurant on the hill. Went to see her and she turned out to be Aziza. I approached her and asked about classes. She said she was out about eight months due to injury so I consistently called her each month to see if she was better until we could begin. In the mean time I checked out a VHS from the library called Atea and the Harem. I copied the basic moves from this video for six months trying to learn the 3/4 shimmy.

O. So finally you began to study with Aziza?

R. I began with Aziza, and only wanted to take privates so I did that for 2 years.

O. So, you began study with Ruby?

R. I took group classes with Ruby and learned a lot of new moves, particularly floor — and she fully broke down the timing on the zills. She was skilled at explaining the timing of body moves and zills together which totally opened my eyes.

O. Were you performing at this time?

R. It was at about the three year mark that Aziza was having trouble fitting Santorini's Restaurant into her schedule so she placed me there.

O. How did that feel?

R. Wow — it was a big confidence issue because at that time I was still studying and hadn't found the emotional source of my dance. And of course, I was Aziza's student and everybody had big expectations — but you know, dancing at Santorin's really gave me confidence.

O. How did you get to the "heart"?

R. Ruby kept talking about Suhaila Salimpour so I watched a video called "Unveiled" and I remember thinking "Aah, so that's what it means to 'dance with your heart!'" I enjoyed it so much that I studied and was able to break down a lot of cool moves and use them in our award winning troupe performances.

O. How did you actually connect with Suhaila?

R. Well, I still had a lot of questions and I felt that I hadn't connected with anyone knowledgeable enough to answer them. In the year 2000, I saw that Suhaila had a week long seminar. I invested $525.00 to take her classes — actually I had a total output of about $1,000.00. I was instantly impressed with her technique because even though I had worked out since I was fifteen; I couldn't do it. I felt like a beginner. Even though I couldn't walk by the second day — I embraced her teaching style.

O. I think it's important that you were willing to invest in your education — both time and money. So how did this change you?

R. I came back and immediately began to teach the logic and the geometry of the dance. I found that breaking it down actually showed me if I was doing it right — I believe that if you can't break it down you don't really know what you are doing!

O. Did you continue to study?

R. For five years I took Suhaila's classes and continued to hang out around level one because that was where I felt comfortable.

O. Were you certified at level one?

R. To become certified in level one, you must know Jamilla's and Suhaila's terminology. You must have endurance and the comprehension of putting the movement together. Use the tools — do the homework. I was practicing for an hour 3 days a week minimum.

O. So importantly, you didn't just become this overnight sensation.

R. For the first time I totally connected with my physicality within this dance. I mean, the first time Aziza saw me dance after the week-long I noticed she was looking at me quizzically. I felt she could see the serious changes and in fact she said that due to what she saw she felt compelled to take the "week-long".

O. Do you feel any dancer at any level could benefit from this study?

R. I feel it improves confidence because it teaches you the mechanics of your dance. Therefore, any dancer can improve at any level using this technique.

O. So as we speak, you are certified at level two in the Salipour Technique and about to take you third level certification. What comes next?

R. Respectfully, I am not interested in studying long term with any other teacher because I feel it will pollute the integrity of what I've learned. I feel I'm lucky to have Aziza's fun and fluidity and Suhaila's strength.

O. I know you have competed quite a bit.

R. Yes, I felt it was important to have the titles for my career.

O. Titles are?

R. Mmm . . . Belly Dancing Performance Artist of the Year with Double Crown , Aphrodite with Emerald Rain, Belly Dancer U .S.A. . I think there are a couple more competitions I will attempt, because I believe that in this society that recognizes accomplishment, people who are even unfamiliar with the dance will recognize that I've accomplished this success and recognize my effort.

O. So, here's the What's next for Rachel George" question...

R. Teaching. I find it emotionally fulfilling to see someone improve by learning. I feel good about being able to recreate what I've learned in somebody else. Eventually, I would love to have my own dance studio with all kinds of dance being taught by several teachers. I would feel like I was offering back what I've received. Also I truly believe that God who created us all is the ultimate creator. He delights in his creations and so to me, not to create is an insult to God.

O. What do you still want from this dance Rachel?

R. (Thoughtfully) I want to be the best dancer I can be within my abilities and, fortunately, I haven't found my boundaries yet so I'm going to keep dancing forward!

Rachel & Aziza

Thoughts on Dance

I believe that dance is your own expression and personal interpretation of the music. As an artist, a picture is painted of the music with movement on to the stage as the canvas. When I dance it is always an emotional experience; happy or sad. Greatly influenced by so many wonderful dancers and their personal interpretation of music I will continue to study and teach for the duration of my ability. The most important thing that we share as dancers is the love for dance. The friendships that have been created through this dance have deeply influenced my life in so many ways. I wouldn't change it for the world. Dance should an artistic path for you as the artist, and above all you should enjoy the talent God has blessed you with. If that ever changes we do it for the wrong reasons!


Dance is a hidden language of the soul.