Saturday, November 30, 2013

expandance Costa Rica workshop Feb / Mar 2014

The beautiful space for our workshop

Hi everyone!

I'm delighted to share with you our next worksop: a 4 day dance workshop and retreat in beautiful jungle surroundings at Lake Arenal, Costa Rica at the end of February / beginning of March 2014. Discover your body’s true potential - whatever your walk of life. Relax, rejuvenate and surprise yourself. This is a creative, holistic movement workshop designed to help you let go of preconceived limitations and get you moving in a safe and fun way! Explore where your movement and creativity come from. No prior dance experience is necessary. 

Workshop dates:

Friday February 28th 2014
Saturday March 1st
Sunday March 2nd
Monday March 3rd

expandance is a healing movement technique that combines over a decade of Transforming Cellular Memory healing and facilitation with over 25 years of dance training and teaching. 

The technique has helped many people overcome chronic pain, prevent injury, become more centered and less anxious, relax into the present moment, unblock creativity, learn how to work and move in a more collaborative manner, and overcome performance fear. This workshop is open to anyone wanting to take some time out for nurturing, peace and creativity in magical, warm Costa Rica. Enjoy home-made, locally-sourced, buffet-style healthy and delicious food, tropical birds and flowers, sun, and a beautiful place to stay at Lake Arenal, all at an incredibly reasonable price.

Eating area at Living Forest

Early bird special $490 (booked before Dec 31st 2013) includes workshop, shared accommodation, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners. 

Cost after Dec 31st: $575

To book your place or if you have questions, please e-mail me at 

See the place here

More info about expandance here or of course by scrolling through this blog.  

"My greatest lessons from expandance have ultimately been about fearlessness. The meditative technique goes beyond other types of sitting or moving meditation I've practiced. That is, it accesses deep awareness, calm acceptance, and loving-kindness...and also manages to make me feel like a better communicator and more confident in general. This technique has allowed me to give myself permission to take work, at play, and in my relationships with other people."
- Erica Frankel, NYC

“For me, the two most powerful things that I’ve received from expandance so far, are experiencing what my body is capable of and wants to do - I had never been invited to move in that way before - and getting Divine Light into the body in a way that can be difficult to do if you’re not using the body.” 
- Caitlin Kelley, NYC, November 2013

Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

"Living Forest, what a place! Everything about the place is perfect. The workshop was life changing, the location, the comfort of sitting in the workshop space, the views of the amazing jungle like trees surrounding the workshop space, with the odd howler monkey visiting! The passing exotic birds, the hospitality and warmth of the owner Johanna, and the natural swimming pool by the river, and as for the food! Deeelicious! A piece of paradise!" 
- Sharon, Ireland

If you wish to extend your stay at Living Forest; Lake Arenal Retreat center please contact us for pricing. 

Looking forward to sharing this very special workshop with you,

Founder, expandance 
Owner, Living Forest Retreat Center

From New York: JetBlue has great fares direct from JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica. 

From outside the US, the following airlines operate to Liberia International Airport: American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, United, Finnair, KLM, Lufthansa, Iberia, US Airways, Air Canada. 

Other cool stuff: Lake Arenal is home to some great wakeboarding, water-skiing, kayaking and wind surfing. There are also zip-lining trips over the jungle forest not too far away. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

expandance Workshop NYC this Monday Sept 16th


Move from pure consciousness - Slow down enough to access your center and really feel what's going on with your body - Relax into being!

GREAT for improvisers - Learn how to connect instantly to your body and be fearless in leading with movement
GREAT for actors - Learn how to use nervous energy to maximize your performance
GREAT for professional dancers too - Over the years, we have consistently found that dancers who practiced the expandance technique had far fewer injuries
GREAT for people with sit-down jobs - Release tension in the back and learn ways to relax at work

Monday Sept 16th 7.30 - 9.30pm 
Keystone studio, 252 West 30th Street 4B (near 8th Ave)
Cost $20 
RSVP by e-mailing me

This 2 hour event is open to all. Absolutely no prior dance experience required, just a desire to get more in your body, to learn to love yourself on a deeper level, and to connect more deeply with your intuition.

"expandance has helped me to heal things in my body I couldn't access from just talking them through. The first time I ever experienced it, I never felt more alive."

- Caitlin Kelley, Brooklyn

Please RSVP via e-mail to me to reserve your space.

$20 payable at the door or in advance via PayPal to

More info:

The expandance technique brings together decades of professional ballet and contemporary dance training, teaching and choreography, Alexander technique study, Transforming Cellular Memory training, and experience in healing, theatre and public speaking. It is a healing movement technique unlike any other. If you’ve tried other intuitive forms of dance and longed to go even deeper into connection with your body, your spirit, the space or the other dancers in the room, I highly recommend the expandance technique. Whether you are a seasoned dancer, an athlete, or someone who has never danced before, this is a technique that can greatly help you move through life in a smoother, more intuitive manner.

Directions: 252 West 30th Street is near 8th Avenue
Near Penn Station - A / C / E trains

Wear comfortable clothes, pants that won't trip you up, and bare feet. There is limited space available to change. Bring water. Any questions feel free to e-mail me!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Get into the expandance technique; watch your life change.

My greatest lessons from expandance have ultimately been about fearlessness. The meditative technique goes beyond other types of sitting or moving meditation I've practiced. That is, it accesses deep awareness, calm acceptance, and loving-kindness...and also manages to make me feel like a better communicator and more confident in general. This technique has allowed me to give myself permission to take work, at play, and in my relationships with other people.
- Erica Frankel, New York
Working and performing with Rachel Wynne and expandance was an experience that has informed my professional dancing career in ways that I still am discovering. The centering and mindfulness exercises she incorporates into her process have not only become part of my daily warm up routine but also manifest in my daily life in a beautifully subtle way. As a director and choreographer, Rachel has a collaborative and wonderfully open minded and creative approach, trusting in the expandance process to lead us to our movement solutions and vision. As a healing modality, I feel that the expandance technique is wonderful for anyone looking to gain more awareness of their body, move through mental or emotional blocks that may have manifested physically in the body (for example as injuries or chronic conditions) and as a meditation practice. I highly recommend bringing her to your company or studio!  
- Hunt Parr, Dance Artist / Yoga Teacher, New York & Alaska

Dancing with expandance taught me how to listen when I improvise, and thereby connect with my center - the creative, intuitive god-self - through movement. With the help of Rachel’s expandance technique training, I experience deeper, less cerebral impulses and I create dance in the moment that is spontaneous, free and connected. expandance has helped me to take meditation from just formal cushion practice, to the art of movement.
- Matt Cichon, Yoga Teacher / Dancer, New York & Japan
TO BOOK A SESSION or WORKSHOP for your group in New York e-mail or visit this page for more info. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Posters for dance don't have to be boring

Disclaimer: I love living in America. I have been here for a total of about 6 years now. Many of my dearest friends here are dancers and choreographers, and this post is not about anyone in particular. It's just some thoughts on my impressions. 

Here's the thing. I think American dance companies need to work on something.

Your advertising posters.

Often in posters / flyers for dance shows (not always, but let's be honest, it's most of the time) we see ... a picture of a dancer. A dancer mid-jump in the air. Two dancers. Three dancers. A dancer in an arabesque. A dancer doing something else that shows that they're - yes - a dancer.

That's it.


Choreographers and people marketing dance: You are creative people! Be creative in your marketing! We assume your dancers can dance. Don't get me wrong - I get that you're selling a dance show. Of course you want to put your cast first and foremost in your advertising. But as an audience member, I'm most intrigued by posters / flyers that also give some hint of the piece itself. Some atmosphere. Some theme. Some emotion. Some...something.

I grew up in Ireland, quite used to seeing posters for performances that were often, quite frankly, so artistic and interesting that you sometimes had to look closely to see what they were actually posters for. What they did, cleverly, was draw the observer in - I wanted to take that second look. I would walk past posters for companies like Dance Theatre of Ireland or Fabulous Beast on the street and they'd make me stop in my tracks. (Anyone remember that poster with the close-up of Olwen Grindley's arm and the camels - or was it horses - walking across it? Brilliant!) As a teenager, I would send little begging notes to Artistic Directors asking if they had any spare posters that I could put on my bedroom wall. These became inspirational posters for me, a young dancer wanting to make a life in the performing arts. They were pieces of art in themselves.

The posters I see in the U.S. do not make me want to bring them home.

What brought this little ramble on today was a Facebook post by a dancer friend in Ireland, advertising Csilla Nagy's piece this evening in Dublin:

Intriguing, right? It draws me in. It proffers questions: Why is she hiding her face? Is she pregnant? Will that be incorporated in her piece? Why is there foliage around her? Will the piece explain this or is it, like it's poster, a mysterious piece - like the inside of the body?

It does what good marketing should do: It makes you want more. 

Look, I'm as guilty as the next dance artist of putting my dancers in my posters - the poster is usually a snapshot of the piece, and the piece isn't the piece without it's dancers. But I do my best to create interesting posters too, with the intention of giving the prospective ticket-buyer another reason to look twice. (And before we get into a money debate over this, let me say: Apart from once, very early on in my career, I have not had the budget for a graphic designer in 10 years of creating dance. Like a lot of dance makers, I do 'em myself.)

I beg of you, dance makers of America (and, ok, some of you outside America too) - Get creative with your posters, please. Make me want to put your posters on my walls again. Your dancers' long limbs and heavenly muscles are wonderful, and I know that decades of work went into honing them - but that can't be ALL your piece is about. Is it? 

- Rachel 
Here are some other cool ones...

Update: After I tweeted this blog post, @clouddancefest turned me on to an article by Article 19, a British online dance publication. Great stuff! They look like movie posters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Photos from the Bangalore workshop

Hi everyone, 

Here are some photos from the expandance technique workshop I taught while in India last year, I realized I hadn't put them online. 

Thanks to Shridevi of NaVaRaSa who hosted the workshop and to Rimona Ganapathy for the photos. 

- Rachel 

NaVaRaSa's beautiful studio in Bangalore

The first improv
Guided meditation

Stretching and massage in partners

Artwork from the first improvisation

Group meditation

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shawbrook in the news and some words on a choreographic mentor

When I was nine years old, I first attended Anica Louw's summer dance course at Shawbrook Ballet School in Co. Longford, Ireland. It was a trial by fire. We engaged in up to ten hours of movement a day, in what I quickly came to realize was a sort of 'boot camp' for dancers. I loved it. We participated in two classes a day (in modern and ballet technique), two rehearsals (one by each teacher creating a new piece in a week) sessions in theatre etiquette, and our own rehearsals, where students were given the opportunity to choreograph a piece of their own. 

Yes, choreograph.

This is where I first learned about choreography. That it was a Thing that Existed. 

In 2003, in an address to the Backstage Theatre audience assembled for the National Dance Awards, Anica told the story of when I had come home after that first week at summer camp, aged nine, and announced to my mother in the kitchen "I want to be a choreographer."(The National Youth Dance Company - now Shawbrook Youth Dance - had just won the group award with my choreography). "And look at you now" she proclaimed, looking directly at me. 

Shawbrook summer schools were to become a fixture of my adolescent summers, something I looked forward to all the school year, and I've missed those dedicated periods of creativity, camaraderie, fresh air, externally-imposed structure for creativity and support as an adult. (Not to mention the fresh air and locally-sourced, healthily-prepared food simply presented in front of you three times a day!) Adolescence is a tough time for anyone, with a hormonally-imbalanced system often creating depression and anxiety, and if you happen to be a dancer or athlete on a career path from the age of 12 (or younger), with limited time for socialising or relaxation outside of school work and training, it can be especially challenging. Anica and her husband Philip created a working structure in the summer courses where students were treated like adults, which quite often required us to stretch ourselves in ways that had yet to be asked of us. And yes, we complained of sore muscles, of curfews and shower time limits - teenagers will complain about anything - but the structure and intensity of these summer courses gave me a foundation that has never gone away. Whenever I am faced with a 15 hour day, (or months of them in a row), or a seemingly impossible task in life or work - and there have been many over the years - a voice in my head reminds me "Think of it like it's Shawbrook. You can do this!" And you know what? I have. I can. I even seek out boot camp classes at the gym now because they remind me of that intensity. 

Anica is a powerful force of a woman, and in many ways has had to be to manifest an internationally recognised school, theatre and residency space for professional dance artists in the wilds of a traditionally agri-centric county. Through a young girl's eyes, she can be formidable - something else which never leaves the cellular memory! - even now, in my 30s, my legs will start shaking at the barre if she happens to walk in to have a look at ballet class. But she is also a woman of great heart and boundless love, as thousands of students and alumni will attest. She was my first mentor as a choreographer, the person that had faith in me when I doubted myself after funding or audition rejections, and over two decades later, I still call on her in my head when I'm worried or stuck in the creative process. 

This week, Shawbrook was profiled on RTE's Nationwide programme. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you consider sending your child to Shawbrook some day. A warning though - upon returning home, your child may have changed to an almost unrecogniable degree: capable of doing their own hair in a bun, organising their own dance clothes and costumes, making their own bed without being asked, and quite possibly clutching a newly-acquired, steadfast desire be a choreographer. 

- Rachel

P.S. expandance had the distinct honour of being the first company to perform on Shawbrook's outdoor stage, with 'Sephiroth' / The Forest Piece. Newly built by Kristo Dawson and open to the elements, we prayed for weeks that it wouldn't rain during the performance (it didn't) and every day for a week before the show I weeded out the nettles so that when the dancers rolled off the stage half way through the piece they wound't get stung. Peter Jordan and his crew rigged lights in the limbs of the old Spanish chestnut trees either side of the stage, and members of Shawbrook Youth Dance hid in the newly planted saplings of Shawbrook forest with lanterns as part of the piece. (That's them in our banner picture.) In the Nationwide piece you will see the outdoor stage as it looks six years later - now with a roof! And leafy, big trees all around - compare to the saplings in the pictures here. 

Laurie Schneider and Jody O'Neill during rehearsals on a sunny day at Shawbrook

Production manager Peter Jordan creates a lighting rig in a tree
A dress rehearsal on the outdoor stage - see those wee saplings!

The newly planted forest behind the girls.