About Asheba
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How did you get started in middle eastern dance?

I have been involved in Middle Eastern Dance since 1982 when a friend and I first began lessons in San Antonio. The only other dance exposure I had up until then was the Country Western dancing I had done with a former boyfriend. Later I still wanted to do some kind of dancing and a friend suggested bellydance classes. She dropped out after a few weeks, but I was hooked on the music and the movement. Here was a dance that did not require a partner so it didn't matter if a boyfriend liked to dance or not.

My first teacher was Barbara Edwards, one of the most graceful, elegant dancers I've ever seen. She was unable to continue as a teacher after about a year, but I kept dancing. I joined in the Austin bellydance scene and went to every seminar I could get to. We had some wonderful instructors from Austin, Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi such as Vashti, Tambra, Shireem, Bobbye Dee, Judy, Thalia, Francisco, and others. Of course, Amaya was already a legend (as well as a resident) in Austin at that time. Other dancers came through Austin such as Horacio, Dalia, Suzanna Del Vecchio, Dahlal, Bert Balladine, Elena Lentini, Bobby Farrah, Elektra, Suhaila Salimpour and Leila Gamal.

cherylinwhite.JPG (9807 bytes)Who or what was the greatest influence on your dance?

Dasi Hadasaw sponsored annual seminars in Austin called Shimmy into Spring and, later, Shimmy into Fall. She is probably the most supportive person I've ever met, not only for me, but for all dancers. I consider her my mentor. She gave me the support I needed at the time I needed it, both in my dance and when I first started vending, for which I'll always be grateful.

How did the Bedouin Dancers get started?

We formed a troupe consisting of people from Barbara's class. Although few of the original members are left, we've continued as an entity for 16 years. Once I began teaching about 12 years ago, we added people from my classes as well. I am the group's choreographer and the core group consists of about 10 dancers.

What do you teach your students?

I've worked hard over the years to develop my own style. The most important thing I can do for my students is to give them a solid foundation on which to develop their own styles. I don't believe in clones. No one can ever be exactly like another dancer. I encourage them to take seminars, to pick and choose the movement that will become their own style. In addition, even though I teach as a technician, it's vital to remember the emotional aspect of this dance. It is important that even when a dancer is physically perfect, beautifully costumed, and a superb technician, if there is no joy, flirtatiousness, sensuality, passion or pain in the dance, it is empty.

tiger.JPG (22015 bytes)I teach mainly in the Egyptian style with a lot of emphasis on weight placement in the movement. It's something I've picked up over the years from analyzing performances--live and on video--to be able to tell where the movement is coming from and where the weight is distributed. I also concentrate on angle, how the same movement will look so different sideways, diagonally, or straight on. and I constantly experiment! How to layer head slides on rib circles on mayas with a vibration! This dance is like a living thing, always changing and growing. The complexity of movement that has developed since I first started is amazing and yet I believe we've just begun to scratch the surface of where it can go and stay true to its origins.

Where does the name Asheba come from?

I'd have to say, like Indiana Jones, I was named after a dog! For real! Sheba is our 16 year old black border collie mix. Don't laugh, I learned a lot from that dog. Like how to dance with the eyes, how to communicate in a non-verbal way.rosarioandcheryl.JPG (13317 bytes)

Seriously, I had always liked the name Sheba, but was afraid there were probably dozens of other dancers out there with that name. You have to remember, this was before double names became popular. Anyway, I figured at worst Asheba could be taken as a derivation of Bathsheba. I asked a couple of Middle Eastern friends if there were any negative connotation to the name, and they all said it meant nothing in their languages. that was just what I wanted, an original name that didn't mean something awful like camel dung. I pronounce it a bit differently than most, with the emphasis on the first syllable and a short, rather than a long, "e".

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