Aviva Sheb'a is passionate about communication and self-expression. Her tools are body, voice, performance, writing and drawing. She is working on ways to assist survivors of trauma to tell their stories through movement, voice, writing and performance - at the same time. Her aim is to assist people go from victim to survivor to thriver.
Born in 1952, all Aviva ever wanted was to dance and to travel. She was two years young when she had her first asthma attack. The asthma became life-threatening yet ultimately was also what led her to fulfilling her dreams. After all available treatments had failed, she began ballet lessons at the age of eight. She gained strength and by 12, she knew dance would be her profession.
Graduating from full-time dance studies at the Himing-Vila School of Dance, Melbourne in 1968, she hung up her pointe shoes (aaahhh, the relief), and followed her passions: flamenco and jazz dance. She was resident dancer at Rafael's Spanish Restaurant in Melbourne and performed at galas, fund-raisers, on TV and taught classical ballet.
At 17, she spent three months touring Vietnam entertaining the troops - as a flamenco and jazz dancer, with a rhythm and blues band who knew nothing about flamenco. She had always loved to improvise. One of the most common exclamations she heard in her tour was, This is a war zone, Baby - Improvise!
This became her theme for life and her work. It led to hair-raising, terrifying experiences as well as uplifting, hilarious, life-affirming adventures.
Aviva combined dance, voice, performance and life experiences to create a way of using body, voice and breathing to express the complete range of emotions and one's physical abilities. In 1977, living in Amsterdam, she coined the term, Vocal Dance while working with musicians in the international avant garde jazz scene. For many years, she taught Vocal Dance extensively as recreation, training for athletes, dancers, singers, musicians, actors, pregnant women, people with disability, and as a therapy. As part of her work with dance, Aviva has considerable experience as a model for artists; professional and students.
As part of her work with dance, Aviva has considerable experience as a model for artists; professional and students. It not only kept the wolf from the door, to Aviva, modelling was another form of dance. At the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, she worked with the artist, Norbert Olthuis, explaining what was happening with her muscles, bones and joints, as Olthuis explained how to capture the experience visually.
Also in Amsterdam, Aviva studied techniques to aid women with menstruation and giving birth, incorporating them into her work.
Her travels have taken her to over twenty countries. She has worked in settings as diverse as the Compagnia Italiana d'Operette, to the desert in Israel, adult day centres, festivals, theatres, art galleries, jazz clubs. An avid people-watcher, she gathered knowledge of customs and ways of doing things. This, and learning to communicate in different languages, broadened her thinking.
Aviva's writings have been published in journals and she's written several one-woman shows, which she performs. Her radio play, in collaboration with producer, Mike Ladd, received a Special Mention for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's entry to the Original Drama Category of the Prix Italia International Radio Play Competition, Palermo, 2002. In Adelaide, Aviva read her poem, We All Same-Same in Dialogue Through Poetry; a United Nations poetry reading spanning 200 cities around the world within the same week, 2001.
Aviva is a gifted story-teller and a pioneer in the field of performative memoir. Her show, This is a War Zone, Baby - Improvise! is constantly evolving as she performs in Oral History conferences, theatres and other settings.
As an MC at festivals and other events, Aviva loves to be the conduit between performers, audiences and technicians.
How To Be a Great MC; How to Perform Your Own Writing; Vocal Dance; Beautiful Birthing and Menstrual Marvels.
"This is a War Zone, Baby - Improvise!" Illawarra Folk Festival, 2014
"This is a War Zone, Baby - Improvise!" Merrigong Theatre Company's Make it ©Merrigong, Illawarra Performing Arts' Centre, Wollongong, 2013
Shebada! Kiama, 2008
"This is a War Zone, Baby - Improvise!", Adelaide Fringe Festival and High Beam Festival, 2000. Read the Reviews
Viva Aviva, Dunolly, Central Victoria, 1991
The Energy Exchange, Amsterdam 1978
Aviva's parents were committed to community. Continuing that tradition, she has devoted much time and energy to assisting people improve their lives, beginning in the late 1960s with the Actors' and Announcers' Equity Association of Australia (now Media, Entertainment and Arts' Alliance) TV: Make it Australian Campaign (advocating for Australian content on Australian TV). While living in the Netherlands, she volunteered with The In-Players and English-Speaking Theatre Amsterdam. Aviva has donated her services to immigrants and students learning English, people with disabilities, amateur theatre groups, dance, music and writers' organisations such as The Australian Dance Council (Ausdance), the South Australian Writers' Theatre, South Coast Writers' Centre, Illawarra Performance Writers' Group, the Illawarra Folk Club, women's groups, schools and universities. Among her performances for community groups, she performed in Lights Out, Nellie Martin at the Phoenix Theatre, Coniston (Wollongong, April 2015.) Aviva serves on the committee of the Illawarra Folk Club, is Smoke-Free Festival co-ordinator for the Illawarra Folk Festival, donates her services as an MC at four folk festivals in New South Wales. Aviva volunteers weekly with the Illawarra Committee for International Students Conversation Group (University of Wollongong), where she's thrilled by assisting international students successfully understand and pronounce English.
A dynamic, passionate public speaker, Aviva is available for conferences, service clubs, corporate and community events.
Articles, poems and stories published in journals and collections, Australia, Holland, Brazil.
International Oral History Association
Oral History NSW
Oral History Australia
South Coast Writers' Centre (Board member 2010-2014)
Ausdance - The Australian Dance Council
Illawarra Folk Club (Committee Member since 2014)
Returned & Services League (Full Member)
For further information regarding workshops, seminars, public speaking and performances, please contact Aviva.