Rachel Kay Brookmire
Rachel Kay Brookmire is the founder and director of Sahara Dance. Since 2000, she has taught belly dance to thousands of students throughout the Washington DC area. She is also the creator of Sahara Dance Foundations, an intensive program for training belly dance teachers.
Rachel specializes in Egyptian raqs sharqi for stage. She has performed extensively at theaters, embassies, weddings, and with live bands as a headliner in Arabic nightclubs. Her playful performance style is shimmy-rich and lyrical. She directs Raqs Sahara, Sahara Dance’s professional performance ensemble, and Raqs Caravan East, a student company in residence at Sahara Dance. Seeking to elevate and develop belly dance as a theater performance art, Rachel produces and directs several annual theater productions highlighting both traditional and experimental belly dance.
Recognized for her detailed, structured teaching approach, Rachel’s classes focus on community, quality movement execution, musicality, and individual expression. As a student of mindfulness practices, she seeks to integrate relaxation, body awareness and the cultivation of joyfulness into her dance offerings. Her teaching style emphasizes postural alignment, contextual awareness of Arabic music and culture and a celebration of femininity.
Before launching a full time dance career, Rachel completed a two-year course of intensive training with Autumn Ward. She has also studied extensively with Yousry Sharif, Sahra Saeeda, Yasmina Ramzy, Hadia, Faten Salama, Aida Nour, Jillina and many other Egyptian dance masters. Shawkat Sayyed, Karim Nagi, George Sawa and Hicham El Anmari have each deeply influenced her understanding of Arab music. Rachel continues training and has traveled several times to Egypt and other Mediterranean and Arab countries. During her apprenticeship with Autumn Ward she was also a member of the Silk Road Dance Company. Prior to discovering Middle Eastern dance, Rachel practiced yoga and trained in modern and West African dance. She received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Boston University and was a member of the Dance Theatre Group.
Chiaki is a professional dancer who specializes in modern Egyptian belly dance. Drawing on her background in classical ballet, she brings grace and musicality to her dance and choreography.
Chiaki first studied belly dance with Autumn Leah Ward and Rachel Kay Brookmire. Her dedication and passion for the dance has led her to Egypt and throughout North America to study with master teachers, most extensively with Yousry Sharif, and including Jillina, Faten Salama, Aida Nour, Raqia Hassan, Mahmoud Reda, Momo Kadous and Dina.
Chiaki has been teaching belly dance since the inception of the Sahara Dance Studio. She teaches two weekly classes and choreographs for Raquettes Naima, a resident company for advanced students. Through her classes, she aspires to share the joy and beauty of belly dance while emphasizing proper body alignment, technical precision, and isolation.
Chiaki has performed at theaters, private functions, and Arabic nightclubs throughout Washington DC area. She is a regularly featured dancer at Zaytinya (Gallery Place), Café Citron (Dupont Circle) and Skewers (Dupont Circle), and has performed at the Nancy Ajram concert, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and National Museum of Women in Arts, among others.