Aviva's first performance was at age nine.
People often wonder why people perform. Is it because they need the accolades? Not for Aviva, whose workshops and private sessions have changed so many lives for the better. She explains:
"Performing is the only way I can truly be myself, express who I am, what I've done, what I love, what I think. It's a way to touch people deeply, to make them laugh, think, and I won't get locked up for it. On stage is where I truly live. Everything else is mere existence; what I do between performances. Of course, teaching is also a form of performance."
Performing as a mature-age dancer with disabilities is a challenge too big for Aviva to resist. Maturity and life experience have brought qualities a younger performer cannot feel, let alone express. Naturally, there are things she can no longer do. Life's difficulties, combined with exposure to chemical warfare have taken a toll, though she has kept most of her flexibility. Nobody expects her to leap like a twenty year-old...but then, nobody expects her to do the splits either.
Aviva performed in the Short, Sweet and Dance Festival and the Short and Sweet Play Festival, Sydney; with Shunyata, the Kiama Women's Peace Choir at numerous cultural functions between Gerringong and Wollongong; solo story-teller, Vocal Dancer and Belly Dancer in and around Kiama for cultural functions and fund-raisers. She was also MC at the Illawarra Folk Festival.
Aviva is also a very popular public speaker, with a lot of unusual experiences to share. She does this with humour, warmth and depth.
To book her for your next function, contact Aviva here
This is a War Zone, Baby -- Improvise! began as a show completely set in the Vietnam War, first person, present tense. Aviva took the audience into her experiences of Vietnam, 1970.
As the show has developed, it now encompasses other aspects of Aviva's life; particularly those relating to her body as a war zone. No two shows are identical. Here you can see one performance at the Illawarra Performing Arts' Centre for the Merrigong Theatre Company's Make it @ Merrigong, 2013. Director: Anne-Louise Rentell.
See what Aviva's followers on Facebook had to say.
Featured in Merrigong Theatre Company's e-news March 2013 Artist in Focus, Merrigong Theatre Company
...to say it was a good performance would be unjust...because it was great, no bullshit. Your intensity and that of the entire cast was remarkable. Somehow you managed to project the past with all its pain and contradictions...right there.
Your energy made me feel that I should find that extra in myself. The simplicity of the stage was overwhelmed by the underlying tension which went with that tragic era which damaged us all and punctured the naievety of our youth. Time and bodily decay I fear more than Death...after all it's a release, that's all. If it wasnt for the kids I guess there would be no point. Hung was great and so was your chant of sorrow..your voice is so passionate. So my dear Aviva take care of yourself and keep in touch...you've got some life force...baby..Shalom. -
Leon Pavich (Vietnam Veteran) - Nexus Multicultural Arts' Organisation, Adelaide, October 2002
At the tender age of 17, flamenco dancer Aviva Sheb'a joined the 3000-strong contingent of entertainers in Vietnam. Armed with little more than a lust for adventure, Aviva survived her tour and somehow maintained her sense of humour -- and it's her comic and often touching observations that give her show such bite.
Underlying her boundless energy and stunning flamenco routines is the fact Aviva's life was irrevocably changed by her tour.
She weaves her travelogue of jungle life and war atrocities with a personable flair that makes the audience feel as though we are sharing a coffee and a chat.
Denise Drysdale and Anne Wills were never like this.
-- Laura Kendall, Adelaide Advertiser, March 2000.
Aviva performs with every atom of her being...
-- Di Beer, arts critic, Adelaide, March 2000.
Festival Fringe time in Adelaide the streets awash with the flotsam and jetsam of society. High heels and tiaras elbow to elbow with gothic girls, feminazis, burb-babes, the going too fast people, the going too slow people, the going nowhere people and the homy-gals and the mob from the big end of town slumming it... and they all went to the wrong show...the action was with Aviva... The night was an ambush; the quarry was the cultural silences of the Vietnam war; the weapons were truth and memory.
Confronting, In your face, raw, we heard it described many ways but this was just Aviva's tale. The Vietnamese musician, the grainy slides, the exuberance of "No See Dolly" (son Leslie's band) and the monologue left the punter no escape from a trip to Vietnam thirty years in the past. The Veterans in the audience squinted and surveyed trying to I.D. other Vets and reactions began betraying the masks but when Leslie's band began mimicking the Vietnam jungle F... Off lizard there was nowhere for the vets to hide ... I missed the next bit of the show because my eyes were watering and I had a really severe pain in my gut from laughing.
Icons and Images of the war were uncomfortable but necessary. The major sadness was the realisation of how the war machine had treated a very young seventeen year old in a very "Adult" environment and it became obvious that some of the shoulder rank people she met didn't get issued the officer and gentleman handbook in training. The tragedy is not as powerful as the triumph and surviving the war and its warriors is the testimony that shows the resilience of youth and the forging of a lifeforce.
for atmosphere and character "Brief Lives" with Roy Dotrice
for energy and emotion "Death of a Salesman" with Russel Starkey
for homegrown theatre "Kiss me Kate" Mirabooka players
for this quality in one night "This is a War Zone Baby -- Improvise" with Aviva Sheb'a
-- Ian Campbell, The Grunt Club Incorporated, Adelaide 2000.
Carmen Wood interviewed Aviva at length for her high school journalism project in 1999. In the Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2000, Carmen saw Aviva's show "This is a War Zone, Baby -- Improvise!"
It made a big impact on her life: "Do get this book finished - you would have such a wide audience, there are things you have said to me that just blew my young mind. A remarkable life, and so much more accessible than what I learned through years of an expensive, formal education. Can't wait to get hold of it!"
- Carmen Wood, solicitor, Adelaide.
Link to Aviva's Oral History Australia report - Improvising in Barcelona on the International Oral History Association, Barcelona 2014.
Shebada! one-woman show, Kiama, November 2008
"Your performance demonstrated a degree of freedom of expression that is so rare. I feel it can help to release in individuals in your audience that very beneficial stimulant that will enable them to bring forth their own inner self thus assisting that essential process of locating, knowing and becoming that spritual essence that is inherently ours.
Essentially, it's the ability to show the inner true self that leads to our spiritual growth."
-- Florence Conway, at the Shebada! show November 22nd, 2008, Kiama
Illawarra Mercury 2017
Illawarra Mercury 2013
VAJEX (Part 1) 2013
VAJEX (Part 2) 2013
South Coast Writers Centre Article 2012
Kiama Independent 2008
Kiama Advertiser 2008
Soft of Hearing ABC 2002
The Advertiser (Adelaide) 2001
Pandora Journal 1995