We had the good fortune of connecting with rachel farley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi rachel, what principle do you value most?
As I reflect on my career the quest for liberation has been the driving force that guided my leaps. In my former life as a high school math teacher, my years were planned to the day and days were planned to the minute. A bell rang every 50 minutes that would indicate I had 5 minutes to handle my human needs before returning to the stage with 35 new teenagers in the audience. The extreme framework left little time for reflection, sensation, or movement. At the time, I appreciated the distraction and stability the structure provided my life. Then, in 2016 a student brought a gun to school. The afternoon ended with a police officer pointing a machine gun inches from my face, leaving me and 1,500 people traumatized. We returned to work the next day expected to perform business as usual, but everything had changed. There was no space given to process and heal and so this career I found myself in began to feel smaller, tighter, squeezing me into an uncomfortable box. Suddenly the system felt constricting and demanding with no sensitivity to the complexity of what it means to be human. And so, I broke free.
I left the classroom to pursue my personal healing, and to support the students and teachers in my community in theirs. Dance and meditation have been the most profound modalities on my journey, so I set out on a quest to deepen my awareness and to share my learnings with students. I see that we are all confined in unique (but similar) ways, be it physical limitations, mental blocks, or geographic borders. We are seeking liberation, bumping up against the boundaries that contain us. I believe freedom is a worthy pursuit because as we have new experiences we are able to relate to people in more meaningful ways. Our empathy and compassion deepen as we see the world from new angles.
Now, as a teacher of dance and math, I support people in accessing freedom in their minds and bodies. I create opportunities for people to find their edge of comfort, and then to consciously move towards or away from it. Together, my students and I face our fears, honor and transform our insecurities, and connect for the sake of healing and growth.
Taking the leap from the predictable career I had created for myself, into the unknown void of entrepreneurship was the scariest and bravest decision I’ve made. As they say, the high risk resulted in high reward. Now, I am my own boss, with freedom to choose how my time is spent (which is often the hardest part). I prioritize balance, adventure and service as I navigate the terrain of business. I believe our society can evolve towards a more inclusive and peaceful future and I intend to be a leader on that path. As Emma Goldman said “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution.” Together we can become free.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a third-generation dancer. My mother dragged me to Tango classes throughout my childhood and my grandma immersed me in Salsa and Swing, their personal favorites. I started teaching when I was 11 years old and haven’t stopped since. From ballroom studios to board rooms, I have taught over 3000 classes to over 20,000 students. After dabbling in most social dances, I now specialize in Brazilian Zouk, Swing, and Fusion.
I absolutely love working with brand new people who think they can’t dance. Watching them discover they CAN and DO dance keeps me coming back for more.
While moving my body to a piece of music is like art in motion, for me the teaching process is where my artistic expression shines. I structure workshops to take people on a journey of self-knowing and embodiment. From that place, I guide them towards connecting with a partner. Dance is a vulnerable realm for most, so intense that many people avoid it. However, I believe partner dance is one of the most ancient and powerful tools to bridge humans across differences in language, status, and race. It is a place where we can playfully come together to communicate non-verbally, practice loving our bodies, and celebrate the cultures from which our dances came. Basically, partner dance encompasses everything I am passionate about and I am honored to share it with my communities.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Welcome to Denver! Obviously, we are starting at Sushi Den for the best meal you’ll ever have. Now that you’re fed, it’s time to dance! Perhaps Swing and Blues at the infamous Mercury Café, Salsa at La Rumba, or sunset Zouk at the Cheesman Park pavilion. Then we’ll wind the night down with ice cream at Licks or a late-night snack at Pete’s Kitchen. To recover from a night of dancing, let’s go to Lake Steam Bathhouse or Izba Sauna for some hot water therapy. Of course, the Botanic Gardens and Red Rocks are always high on the list for nature magic!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to Ms.Neely, the high school teacher who encouraged me to pursue a degree in Mathematics even though it was my most challenging subject. Shoutout to my parents for their support and sacrifices which allowed me to be a first-generation college student. Shoutout to the staff at George Washington and East High School for their tireless anti-racism and advocacy work. Shoutout to my dear friends Mackenzie and Alexandra who believe wholeheartedly in my work.
Linkedin: Rachel Farley
Youtube: Kinetic Kinection