Rachel Wajiha Butler
PositionDance Movement Psychotherapist, Community Dance Artist, Artistic Educator
(Rachel)Wajiha Butler started studying and performing Arabic and North African Dance, under the guidance of the charismatic Alison Orr, whilst training to be a Veterinary Surgeon in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1997. She had the opportunity to participate in World music and dance family workshops ran by The San Fransisco Ballet at The Hub, Edinburgh. These experiences inspired her to start a journey of exploring the wonderful richness of world music and dance. After graduating as a Veterinary Surgeon in 1999,Wajiha moved to Oxford, UK, met Gaspard Zamble of the Cote D’Ivoire National Ballet and began to learn West African dance At The Place, London where Gaspard was teaching. In 2002 she made a trip to the Ivory Coast with Gaspard to further her studies of West African dance. During her trip, staying in a tiny village in the heart of the Ivory Coast, listening to the beat of ritual drumming all night long, Wajiha decided that as dance was so powerful to her and her love for dance was so strong she was going to train as a dance therapist and she embarked on a post graduate diploma in dance movement psychotherapy at Roehampton University, London, which she finished in 2005. She also gained a National Open College Network Community dance leaders qualification, from Poole College of Arts, Dorset, UK in 2002. Whilst staying in the tiny village in the Ivory Coast Wajiha met Charles Beauchamp and Julieta Rubio of Mandinga Arts, London whom she later performed with in various Carnivals throughout London including the Lord Mayors Thames Festival in 2002 and 2004. She worked as a Carnival dance artist in Oxford’s schools ,family and community centres, for over ten years teaching, inspiring her students to have fun and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the UK. She studied Senegalese dance in The Gambia in 2003. In the UK she learnt Ghanaian and Ethiopian dance and sang regularly with Anita Daulne of Zap Mama who also taught her Congolese dance. In 2006 she completed a week’s residency with Sakoba Dance in Bode Lawal’s Post Modern African Dance Technique, which inspired her to teach traditional African dance in a more creative way. Wajiha has worked as a dance therapist with adults with emotional and mental health issues, with parents and children and with special needs. She developed her own method of teaching traditional African dance to parents and under threes at The Pegasus Theatre Oxford, UK. More recently Wajiha has participated in Professor Miranda Tufnell’s somatic wellbeing and experiential anatomy residentials in Oxford to further her knowledge of how movement and dance can be used to heal the body and soul. Since 2013 Wajiha’s work has focused on the wellbeing of women and the divine feminine through her unique fusion of traditional African dance, creative dance, dance therapy and sound. Wajiha currently resides in Nice, France, where she continues to share her love for dance, the joy that it can bring to people’s hearts and the richness of traditional African peoples dance to celebrate and honour diversity.