We are so happy to have Miss Rachel Johnson sharing her love for dance and life with our students at Prairie School of Dance! Take a few moments to learn about some of her amazing experiences and interests.
Where did you receive your degree? Gustavus Adolphus College
How long have you been teaching dance and what class(es) do you teach?
I am in my second year of teaching. At PSOD, I teach Creative Dance, Ballet/Tap/Jazz classes and Jazz/Hip Hop classes.
What is your favorite style of dance?
My favorite style of dance is modern — though I also really love tap, and I think tap is my favorite style to teach kids.
Where is the coolest place you have ever performed?
In the summer of 2012, I received a scholarship to perform in Spoleto, Italy with site-specific choreographer Stephan Koplowitz. He had set work on Gustavus students the previous winter/spring and had invited those of us who worked with him to join him in Spoleto for the LaMaMa Spoleto Umbria festival in June — basically a Fringe Festival. Spoleto is a town about an hour and a half northeast of Rome, and I went there by myself. I danced (and ate, explored, and tried to speak Italian) with several other Americans — and one Italian — for two weeks in preparation for the performances. Since it was site-specific, we rehearsed mostly where we would be performing, for hours under the very hot Italian sun. There were three places I danced in the town. One was within a giant dome-shaped sculpture by Michele Manzini in a city park, another was in front of the duomo in Spoleto, and the other was under/around another huge sculpture by Alexander Calder as the center of a roundabout right in front of the train station. In front of the train station was probably the coolest since we always had people watching us rehearse (and then perform) while waiting for the train. Since it was in the middle of a roundabout, there were constantly cars zooming all around us which was a very disorienting experience. I remember people shouting out their windows, “bello! Bello!” which means beautiful in Italian. We had two days of performances, morning through evening at the different sites, and our work kicked off the festival. It was two of the best weeks of my life and by FAR the coolest place I have performed. It was an amazing experience.
Photo Credit: Stephan Koplowitz
What is one thing you were taught and will always remember?
“Squish the orange”. My ballet teacher used to say it to remind us to control our releves when we would lower to flat feet with straight legs. I’ve found myself saying it when I teach now, too.
How has dance impacted you?
Dance makes me have faith in myself, in my friends, and in people in general. I have danced since I was 3 years old, and being in dance encouraged me to express myself, which has made a huge impact with who I am today.
What inspires you?
Tea, a good conversation, and a place to write good ideas down.
What brings you joy when you’re not at Prairie School of Dance?
I am an extrovert and a very relationship-oriented person, so being around those I love brings me the most joy. Besides great company, I enjoy cooking, camping, being out and about in Minneapolis/St. Paul, taking dance classes, watching Friends reruns, and laughing at all the weird things my dog does.
Have you created a pre-performance regiment/routine or a tip you’d like to share?I always spend a lot of time jumping to get warm and a lot of time in lunges because my hip flexors get really tight. Also, if possible, I always hug somebody really tight about a minute before I go onstage — it helps with my nerves. 🙂