Rachel Winchester, choreographer, educator, and filmmaker, is joining the staff of Festival Dance & Performing Arts as Academy Director and Community Engagement Specialist, thanks to an American Rescue Plan award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Festival Dance is one of only two organizations in the state of Idaho to receive this award which will support the organization’s mission of greater outreach to the community. “This is such a special year, as Festival Dance celebrates its 50th Anniversary as a leader in the Moscow arts’ community, and I am honored to be part of continuing this legacy,” said Rachel Winchester.

With a passion for innovative storytelling, Winchester has had the privilege of teaching hundreds of dancers of all ages, including students at the University of Idaho, the University of Oregon, and Pacific Lutheran University. Rachel’s choreography has been recognized and presented through the American College Dance Association at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and various arts organizations in San Diego, Seattle, and New York City.

“While Rachel may be petite in stature; she is commanding in presence,” said FDPA Board Member, Trish Gardner. She elaborated that Rachel has an impressive repertoire as a dance educator with training in numerous styles and techniques. Rachel genuinely loves to teach all ages, and for the Fall Festival Dance Academy schedule, she will teach a Mommy/Daddy & Toddler movement class, Introductory Ballet, Open-level Contemporary Dance, Upper-level Tap, and Jazz, as well as Social Dance for couples. Winchester has certified training in Braindance Foundations, a method of instruction that seeks to build brain development in people of all ages, and in Feldenkrais’ Balance & Stability technique. She has recently been in partnership with the American Heart Association to teach children’s heart-healthy classes. Winchester has taught lessons providing English to Spanish translation and is very welcoming of students of diverse cultural backgrounds. “Rachel is a very warm, poised professional, who demonstrates a wide array of skills and values community connection and collaboration. She is just what Festival Dance needs. I know she will instill confidence in our students, and I look forward to watching her put her stamp on the organization,” said Trish Gardner.

Back-to-Dance Bootcamp on August 16th—18th at the UI PEB studio is a great opportunity for area dancers to get acquainted with Rachel Winchester. This intensive dance program offers three full days of classes in Ballet, Conditioning, Tap, Contemporary, and Improvisation. Rachel will teach alongside other Academy faculty including UI Dance Instructor, Colleen Bialas, and Lindsay Johnson, resident artist with American Liberty Ballet. For younger ages, FDPAA is offering 2 free classes for ages 3-6 to try Creative Movement/Ballet, and Jazz/Tap, and 1 class for Ballet level 2/3 to brush up on their skills. Schedules and registration information is available at www.festivaldance.org.