Rachael Leonard

Adjunct Professor of Music, Movement, Exercise and Dance

Since 2012, Rachael has been on faculty at Stetson University. She teaches dance, movement, exercise, and wellness courses in both the School of Music and the Department of Creative Arts. 

  • MFA, Dance Choreography, Jacksonville University
  • BFA, Modern Dance, University of Utah
  • Certified Pilates, Yoga, Fitness and Personal Training


Rachael Leonard


Rachael Leonard is originally from Massachusetts and now resides in both Georgia and Florida. She received her BFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah and her MFA in Dance Choreography from Jacksonville University/White Oak as a Howard Gilman Fellow.

For over fifteen years, she was co-founding Artistic Director of Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theatre/RAKR Dance, and this is Rachael's tenth consecutive year of creating dances on Columbia City Ballet. Rachael's choreographic repertoire includes over one hundred and twenty original works that have been presented extensively throughout the United States, as well as internationally at Sadler's Wells in London (England), TeaterØen in Copenhagen (Denmark), Teatro Lethes in Faro (Portugal), Flamenqueria in Seville (Spain), Maison pour la Danse in Quebec City (Canada), Studio Hydro Quebec at Monument National in Montreal (Canada) and in various venues on the island of Guadeloupe (French Caribbean).

Rachael is a recommended Adjudicator and Master Instructor for the American College Dance Association (ACDA) and has served on faculty for the United States International Ballet Competition. She is a published presenter of dance-related articles, papers and lectures and has been an Artist in Residence with Very Special Arts, the Marble House Project, the Great Friends Dance Festival and the US Park Service.

Since 2013, Rachael has served as an axillary Professor of Movement, Exercise, and Dance courses at Stetson University, and she also has guest-resided and taught on faculty at Seminole State College, Temple University, Alma College, Belhaven University, Bethune-Cookman University, Jacksonville University, Cal State - Chico, FloArts, College of Southern Idaho, University of Utah, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and various studios, workshops and conservatories.

Adjacent to her career in dance performance, choreography, education, adjudication and practice-based research, Rachael is the owner and a certified instructor/trainer of Pilates, Barre, Yoga, Aerial, and Vertical Pole at CORE studio in Port Orange, Florida. Her certifications include Balanced Body®, YogaFit®, AFAA, IFTA, YMCA, Healthways/SilverSneakers®, Reebok University, Les Mills, and Zumba® and additional training includes Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Bartinieff Fundamentals, Gyrokenesis, MELT Method, Gaga Movement Language, Aerial Arts, NonVerbal Communication, Nutrition and Holistic Health.

More About Rachael Leonard

Areas of Expertise

  • Dance (choreography, technique, improvisation, history)
  • Fitness, wellness and somatics

Course Sampling

  • Dance Appreciation
  • Movement for Musicians
  • Exercise/Wellness for Musicians
  • Teaching Apprenticeships

  • Incorporating semi-structured frameworks within a contemporary technique class through somatically informed practices to yield creativity, confidence, critical understanding and kinesthesia
  • The role and manifestations of nonverbal communication and socio-philosophical perception within choreographic exploration
  • Auspicious pathways toward emergent narrative within contemporary and poststructuralist ballet
  • Aberrant and cross-discipline improvisation as a means to develop authentic artistry
  • Performative destabilization as a path to corporeal and embodied performance
  • Dance and art criticism in the era of Web 2.0
  • The effectiveness of art as a medium for elevating awareness about climate change and global issues
  • Holistic approaches to wellness for optimal human performance and experience (mental, physical, social, spiritual, environmental and vocational)

  • Leonard, Rachael M. (October 2013) Teaching Choreography in Higher Ed: Philosophical Inquiry and Practical Professional Demand, Paper Presentation/ Publication, NDEO National Dance Educators Annual Conference 2013, Miami, Florida.
  • Leonard, Rachael M. (Spring 2013) Nonverbal Communication in (Dance) ACTion. NOFOD/SDHS International Conference Publication, "DanceACTions" Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
  • Leonard, Rachael M. (Spring 2013) Nonverbal Communication in Choreographic Exploration: The Role and Manifestations of Socio-Physical Perception and Understanding in the Creative Research Process. (Thesis Dissertation) Jacksonville University. Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Bower K., Flores, A., Leonard, R., O'Leary, R., Opdenaker, J., Wexelman, A. (September/October 2012). Education Without Limits: The Growing Trend in Low-Residency Dance MFA Programs. Dance Magazine of Florida. Florida, U.S.