Co-Founder Spotlight: An Ode to Rachel

Photo by Anacia Weiskittel

In the dance world, just like in any other industry, there are two kinds of friendships that you are bound to make:

  • Those of convenience, where no one’s feelings are hurt if you stop texting each other when your paths diverge.
  • And those that hang on. These are the kind of friends you joke about naming your children after in the middle of a Zoom call from across the nation or even across the world.

I have been fortunate to make an abundance of both kinds of friendships throughout my career. With all the moving around I’ve done, though, it feels like a major achievement to say that I’ve hung onto one friend for the entire eight-year journey: Digital Dance Project’s operations manager, Rachel Seeholzer.

Over the years, she has modeled for me the power of irreverent humor and perseverance toward succeeding in this crazy industry. These qualities make for a wonderful colleague, a good (and honest) friend, and the ideal person to build a dance project with.

Rewind: Our History

Rachel and I met in 2012 when I accidentally put my stuff down in her barre spot on the first morning of Richmond Ballet’s summer intensive. She had to come along and politely tell me to get out of her spot.

I got her back about four months later, when I left town for a week to go to my sister’s wedding in Kauai. As my alternate cast member in the grueling, heart-pumping Waltz of the Snowflakes, poor Rachel had to do our part in back-to-back run-throughs until I got back.

As Rachel has retold that story over the years, the length of time I was gone has increased with each telling. At this point, I think that I’m technically still in Kauai.

Rachel and I as RB trainees, 2013

We crossed paths again in Charlottesville, VA in 2016. Rachel was away dancing with Suzanne Farrell Ballet for the first month of our season, and casually did five pirouettes en pointe on her first day back in the studio. Future DDP director, Marinna, established our trio when she introduced herself to Rachel after class: “Hi, I’m Cindy’s friend.”

(There are many stories I could tell about Marinna, but that’s for another day. #kusandcasegowest.)

Fun Facts: Seeholzer Edition

Bretta, captured by the author
  • Rachel won the chemistry award in sophomore year.
  • She loves her cat Bretta, who has danced with her in Chicago, San Francisco, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Richmond, and Charlottesville over the last 9.5 years.
  • She once texted me that her memoir was going to be titled STRAIGHT OUTTA BALLET CLASS.
  • Wayne Brady told her that she had a good fan kick when she was on Let’s Make a Deal.
  • She gives the best nicknames. Mine is CinCity.

Fast Forward: Through Humor and Perseverance

The professional dance world can be a frustrating place, even without the added challenge of multiple global crises. Rachel, however, has always been able to deflect that frustration with jokes as she continues pushing herself as an artist.

That’s important, because the career path for many of us in dance is full of twists and turns with no clear destination. I know lots of dancers who have given up after a year or two of trying to decipher that map, but not Rachel.

Her persistence has led her to make big leaps, and her next one will be the biggest yet: becoming the first Black female company dancer of Ballet.Co Laboratory. She’s not taking that lightly, either. On Monday, June 15th, she’ll be participating in a virtual panel with other classical artists of color to discuss ways to make the arts more inclusive.

My Advice: Everyone Needs a Rachel

Many posts about individual dancers focus on the superstars of the industry, but our dance community as we’ve known it is built on the hard work and the technical ability of dancers like Rachel.

As we face the uncertainty of the post-COVID world, she is exactly the kind of person who will help us to build new, virtual communities.

If you find yourself a Rachel, keep her.

Photo by Gianna Grace Photography

2 thoughts on “Co-Founder Spotlight: An Ode to Rachel

  1. Lovely story about Rachel. FYI, I found a Cindy and will never let her leave my heart.


    1. Cindy Case

      Thank you, Pam! I think those are the kind of connections the world needs right now ❤


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