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Meet Rachel Hernandez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Hernandez.

Rachel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Although I was born in the Midwest, dance story begins in Salvador, Bahia. One of the reasons my story is unique is because I never set out to be a dancer. I’m just a person who had the courage to listen to my spirit and fulfill my destiny. Unbeknownst to me while I was living in Santiago de Chile, I began to have dreams about a place that I now know to be Bahia. I believe the orixa ancestors were calling me even then.

I knew at that moment I was to move there and that I needed to listen to that calling to become a dancer. I was blessed to study with all the master teachers and perform a dance for 3+ years. I had the privilege to study with landmark masters such as Mestre King, Joffre Santos, Rosangela Silvestre, Vera Passos, Nildinha Fonseca, Matias Santiago, as well as at the Escola de Dança, Balé Folclórico da Bahia, and UFBA. In Bahia, I danced with Mestre Kings Grupo Genisis, Balá da and in the legendary production Saure.

Upon my return stateside I have danced with Fusion Dance Company, Extra Ancestral, Ballet Santa Barbara, and Viver Brasil. I have worked for the Children’s Creative project and LA’s BEST Program introducing Afro-Brazilian dance to scores of elementary school children. I have choreographed for Ballet Santa Barbara, Viver Brasil and Ballet Foclorico do Brasil, Amalkoba, Extra Ancestral nationally as well Capoeira Batuque Japao in Japan internationally. I currently choreograph and dance for Extra Ancestral and play percussion and with Bloco Obini.

For the past eight, the workshops, classes, and choreography I create are a reflection of the respect and power that delving deep into Ancestral practices provides. So much of what we do in Western society lacks this basic foundation. When we go back to it, we understand so much of our power, our pain, and we have a foundation with which to move forward authentically in this contemporary world.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like anything, there are also always obstacles and challenges along the way. I begin to dance much later than most, which was a blessing and a blessing. I had to work twice as hard most of my peers. But being in this position has always kept me humble and cultivated strong sense self-discipline, dedication and also the courage to believe in myself and path less taken. The workshops, in a way, were created from my desire to always dive deeper and make connections within the African diaspora. The LA community that’s been created is intelligent, inspired and committed to learning and building our collective knowledge together.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Live Drum and Dance Workshops combined offer a visceral experience that is very different from studying theory. It’s creative, alive and the possibilities are infinite. You have the wisdom of the Orixa inspiring an intention and one is called, in that moment, to be present and connect. It’s a wisdom that can only come through the PRACTICE of these art forms.  In turn this practice can transform your life.

Currently, I teach a weekly class at Brasil Brasil Cultural Center every Sunday 1:30pm with live music.

I will also be teaching a summer series at Pieter Performance Space throughout the summer of 2019.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is waking up everyday to live my purpose, in alignment, with peace of heart and mind.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bobby Gordon, EnclaveLA, Maira Angelica, Farah Sosa

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