At some point in her life, every little girl aspires to be a professional dancer. For very few, however, does this dream become a reality. For very few does dance evolve into more than a hobby or a fleeting passion.
Meet Rachel Keller – one of the few.
Dance has taken Keller far beyond the little ballet bar and tights, all the way to professional teams and colleges, where it has finally landed her here in Allen, TX.
At the age of two, Keller’s mother enrolled her in ballet and tap lessons at a studio in their hometown of Pasadena, TX. From there, she danced on her high school drill team. It was during her junior year of high school that she realized dance was more than just a hobby.
“I really started to think, ‘okay maybe this could take me further. Maybe I could do this in college. Maybe I could do this as a career’,” Keller said.
After high school, Keller attended Kilgore College and was a Rangerette for two years. Now she is in the dance department at Texas Woman’s University, dances as an Ice Girl for the Dallas Stars and is a student teacher for Lisa Smentek, the dance teacher and drill team director at Allen High School.
Keller’s ultimate goal is to teach her own dance classes and be involved with the high school drill team.
“I love being able to dance myself, but my true passion is teaching others,” she said.
Life as a professional dancer has its share of hardships. The physical tolls it takes on her body, long hours of practice, loss of sleep, and balancing dance with other important parts of her life have all been obstacles, Keller said.
Despite the struggles that can come with dancing as a profession, Keller uses choreography as a medium to express her emotions and experiences, both positive and negative.
“Whatever is happening in my life at that time kind of shows through my work,” she said, “and I definitely draw a lot of inspiration and emotion from the girls who are actually dancing.”
Keller also uses her work as a way to showcase the abilities of other dancers she choreographs for.
“It’s really a collaboration of choreographer and dancer together, and how they’re feeling,” she said.
Not just anybody can thrive as a professional dancer as Keller does. It takes an arsenal of unique traits.
“You have to be able to be social. You have to be able to put yourself out there,” Keller said, “you can’t be afraid to fail.”
However, if a person has the right traits and dedication, life-long experience is not integral.
“People say you’ve got to be involved with [dance] at a young age, . . .but for people who want to dance and experience choreographing and performing, it’s never too late to try,” Keller said.
Whether on a recreational level or professional level, dance has the ability to convey messages, express ideas and affect the emotions of spectators.
“It’s a unique art form. You can do many things with dance and choreographing,” Keller said.