Courtesy Kreiling

The Whole Dancer: NYCDA Faculty Member Rachel Kreiling on Self-Care & Staying True to Yourself

When Rachel Kreiling first walked into New York City Dance Alliance as a young student in 1995, she couldn't have anticipated the lifelong connections she was about to make. Following a performing career that took her around the world, Kreiling found herself back at NYCDA as an assistant at the invitation of founder Joe Lanteri. She joined the faculty in 2008 and has been there ever since.

At the heart of Kreiling's teaching is her passion for dancer wellness. Kinesiology, neuroscience and conditioning play a key role in her work at NYCDA and as a guest teacher at studios nationwide. We talked to Kreiling for our very first "Whole Dancer" column, where we hear from top NYCDA dancers, choreographers and teachers about wellness, self-care and more:


On her journey with NYCDA:

"NYCDA nurtured me to be a professional dancer, not just a competitive dancer. That was huge when it came time to transition from a competitive studio environment to the professional world. I was set up with the tools to succeed and had built strong relationships with the faculty. Those relationships have stayed strong because each faculty member is invested in guiding every kid. It's not just for the weekend; it's for the long haul."

On dancer wellness:

"It's not just about technique. It's about physical and mental well-being in and out of the classroom. Overuse, underuse and lack of awareness injuries are manageable. A lot of dancers just lack the tools. The physical well-being of dancers stems from educating themselves and understanding anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and proper conditioning that counterbalances the overuse and underuse tendencies we have in dance."

On her teaching style:

"I approach things from a very kinesthetic, holistic point of view. When I was working with my seniors recently, we were talking about how when you stand on the side during a combination, it's not just about watching the good people. It's about identifying for yourself what their successful tools are. Is it dynamics? Is it lines? Is it space? Is it technique? It's about making sure that when you come out to the floor you are mentally active. You are aware of where you are in space and keeping your body safe."

On the NYCDA atmosphere:

"When we teach, we really spend time talking about mental tools and how to be in a workshop or audition space. We discuss how to be a part of a community. It's about progress, not perfection. If you can make simple steps one at a time, that is celebrated here at whatever level you're at. It's more of an educational environment than a competitive environment."

On her self-care routine:

"I recently started something called The 5 Second Journal: "How do you feel today and why do you feel like that?" It forces you to assess things that energize or bring positivity to you. I wake up in the morning, assess for 2-3 minutes and then move on. It's a great way to start my day.

"After that, I do a simple workout that organizes my entire body. At least once a week, I have an active recovery day. No dance technique. Whether it's rolling out, doing another conditioning practice or just simple stretching, I take the time to do something that's passive and restorative. I also love using oil diffusers at night. It helps me clear my mind and reset."

On being well-rounded as a dancer:

"Remember that with dance, it's not about the steps. It's about gaining the tools to be a well-rounded person who can be successful in whatever field you choose. Those tools go beyond the convention floor. It's about how to be resilient and a learner who will grow and progress. It's about advocating for yourself and understanding your strengths and weaknesses."

On the best advice she's ever received:

"If you stay true to yourself, the best will come out. When you try to fabricate or alter who you truly are, that's when things start to crumble. When you value what you say and do and don't compare yourself to others, that's enough and it will be well-received."

On her greatest inspiration:

"I came from an environment in which understanding your body was not a priority. I suffered injuries because of it. When I came stateside after doing international work, I came to Suzi Taylor's class. I was in the back corner trying to hide and she circled around the back, leaned over my shoulder and said, 'Whatever you're doing from 12:00 to 2:00 every day, change it.' So I did. I moved my work and was in her class every single day. She retrained me and taught me about resilience and acceptance. I wouldn't be where I am today without her."

Latest Posts


Nathan Sayers

From "Dance Moms" to Complexions: Ballerina Kaeli Ware's Unconventional Path to Success

Take one look at Kaeli Ware's Instagram page and you'll be captivated. The elegant, impossibly long-limbed ballet dancer has over 110 thousand followers hooked on her every polished move. But the 19-year-old phenom isn't just a social media sensation. Having already conquered the competition scene and the world of dance reality TV, Ware recently joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet as a trainee. These days, she splits her time between NYC and Philadelphia, PA, where she continues to beef up her classical training at The Rock School for Dance Education.

She's not a traditional bunhead, and she's not a run-of-the-mill social influencer, either. Instead, Ware is creating her own hybrid career path—and it's taking her to impressive places.

Keep Reading
Jerry Metellus, courtesy Val Chmerkovisky and Jenna Johnson

The Dance Power Couples of 2020

Given the endless hours dancers spend together in classes, rehearsals, and performances, it makes sense that onstage chemistry frequently leads to romance IRL. Sometimes the resulting relationships go beyond stage magic. Serious dance power couples not only perform together, but also collaborate on choreographic projects, embark on joint national tours, and even partner up for mainstream media gigs.

Here are seven fabulous dance couples we'll be 'shipping into the years ahead.

Keep Reading
(From left) Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, and Lauren Graham in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," courtesy NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Mandy Moore Puts Dance in the Spotlight in NBC's Newest Series, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"

Imagine living in a real-life musical, where spontaneous song-and-dance breaks happen as often in the street as they do onstage. After a series of unusual events, every dancers' dream becomes an unexpected reality for computer coder Zoey Clarke (played by Jane Levy) in NBC's newest series, "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist." Although at first her new powers catch Zoey off guard, when she learns to embrace them, she's able to connect with the world around her like never before.

And the best part? Every musical mashup puts incredible dancing front and center, thanks in large part to series choreographer and all around dance-for-the-screen extraordinaire, Mandy Moore. Dance Spirit chatted with Moore about choreographing for the dance-driven series, which returns to NBC with all-new episodes this Sunday, February 16 at 9/8c.

Keep Reading
contest
Enter the Cover Model Search