Eva Cernik Biography

Eva Cernik

Eva’s love of dance since her childhood in Brasil, her Eastern European heritage, and extensive travels in Turkey all attracted her to the strong and energetic nature of Turkish Style Oriental Dance.  

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After extensive training in gymnastics and ballet, at age 19 Eva was first introduced to Bellydance by Anahid Sofian in New York. The following years, she studied in Denver with Naila-Rose, of the original Salimpour school. Then for 14 years, Eva studied intensively with Adnan Sarhan of Baghdad. This training filled her with a deep love for Arabic music and with techniques to practice Dance as a spiritual path.  

In order to absorb directly from the cultures which have nurtured this dance for centuries, in her early 20s, Eva set out on her first trip to the Middle East. To finance her explorations and ongoing studies abroad she worked as an Oriental dancer in London, Paris, Istanbul, and Cairo, and in-troupe in Baghdad and much of Spain. She also traveled in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Morocco and 14 other countries.  Returning to Egypt 26 times, Eva developed a friendship with families in Upper Egypt. There she studied with Khairiya Maazin, and So'ad Maazin (of a family of dancers recognized for two hundred years throughout Egypt). When Eva was directing dance-tours to Egypt, she arranged many parties for the villagers, and always hired Ghawazi dancers and mizmar bands.

She also returned to Turkey 11 times, to really grasp the very strong contrast of the Turkish and Romani styles to the Egyptian and now to American styles.

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In her travels, Eva worked with the Erdoğans Modern Turkish Oriental Troupe for over a year, and the Samir Sabri Troupe in Cairo.

A few of the musicians Eva has performed with are:  Selim Sesler, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Souren Baronian, Haig Manoukian, Nabil Azzam, John Bilezikjian, Ishmael, Paul Klite, Meg York, Beth Quist, Ariana Saraha, Kitaro, and bands: UCSB Mideast Ensemble, Sirocco, Transition (M.E.-Jazz fusion), Sherefe; once as guest with BaBaZula Turkish alternative music; and since 2003 a continuous artistic collaboration with Rachid Halihal.

Eva believes that dancing to live music is essential to the experience of this art form.

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Here in the US, as well as in Mexico and Japan, whenever a representative for Turkish Oriental style is needed, Eva Cernik is one of the very few who are called upon to not only represent the style accurately, but to perform the dance with her own innovation and fresh interpretation within the bounds of Turkish Oryantal tradition.

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Eva's dance travels both in Turkey and Arab countries allowed her to become finely attuned to the differences and uniqueness of various styles. Her studies with Yeşim in Sulukule, with Reyhan Tuzsuz, and participation in numerous Turk-Roman festivals have given her the ability to conjure that special feeling for accenting the 9/8 in that unique way of the Turkish Rom.

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Eva also spent 14 years fully immersed in Sufi dance practices ... exploring how dance is created and how moves flow from one to another.  She collected and created dance-games and exercises which incorporate her spiritual learning into her Oriental dance.  In order to improvise freely and beautifully, one needs to be comfortable with the logic and essence of movements as well as the traditional structure of the different styles of Oriental dance.  

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One must know where the boundary is, to play at the very edge ... 

Eva's creation of 22 dance & music focused tours to Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco have given her a sense of where those boundaries are, and her own adventuresome spirit dancing within that structure has earned her the 1997 "Innovative Dancer of the Year" award from International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED), as well as "Favorite Interpretive Artist" in 2002 by Zaghareet Magazine.

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Other awards are: "Master Instructor" by IBDC in Las Vegas 2007, and "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Bellydancer of the Universe competition in Long Beach, prompting a three page interview in the July 2009 issue of The Chronicles.  Eva was Habibi Magazine "cover-girl" in 1987, and interviewed for "Belly Dancer" magazine for the cover story January 2007. The interview focused on the direction and evolution of Oriental Dance.  

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While in Cairo she studied with Raq'ia Hassan, Nadia Hamdi, and was often coached by Mahmoud Reda. 

In Istanbul, Eva studied with Nesrin Topkapi, Sema Yildiz, Reyhan Tuzsuz, and Yesim, and Dr. Serpil Murtezaoglu.

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Eva loves to write, and has interviewed Samia Gamal in her Cairo home, and Zeki Erdogan, Burcin Orhon, and Sema Yildiz in each their homes in Istanbul. Eva published several articles in Habibi magazine, Jareeda, and Gilded Serpent; and has documented Ghawazi and Turkish Romani dancers as well as her own dances on video.

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While working at weddings, as soloist in singer Samir Sabri's company, Eva had the unique opportunity to see nearly all the famous Egyptian dancers of the 1980s from the very edge of the stage. Due to the fact that Samir Sabri was the headliner, his show would always go on last. Eva always arrived early, to enjoy, absorb and learn from every precious moment of the preceding dancers' performances.

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Eva was an invited teacher/performer at "Turkish Delight International Belly Dance Festival" in Istanbul 2010.  She often returns to New York City as guest teacher and performer for Anahid Sofian Studio's Annual Dance Intensive ... returning in August 2018!

In 2008, Eva was presented by Denver Lyric Opera Guild in a performance of Strauss' disturbing "Dance of the Seven Veils" from his opera "Salome" attended by opera lovers who were awed by her performance. Though her specialty is Turkish Romani style, her spiritual preference is Veil dancing. 

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Eva taught at Folktours dance intensives in PA, NYS, and Istanbul; Hadia's Turkish tours; Mendocino Music and Dance Camp (2009); Oasis Camp; Island of Isis retreat; Artemis Mourat's studio in MD;  TribalFest 15; Third Coast Tribal; Elevation Festival, ArabesqueLex (2016); Gozde Dans in Anchorage 2016, Sadie Marquardt retreat 2015, Masters in Minneapolis residency 2017 ... Shimmy Con 2018! ... and so many more seminars in nearly all 50 states. 

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Eva has produced many concerts with live music by  “Transition”, “Sherefe”, and Rachid Halihal utilizing traditional Oriental dance to express themes concerning Spirit and Life. Above all, however, it is the pure dance that has remained her priority. Her audiences are moved by the beauty she creates by aligning with forces far deeper than culture.

Since 1984, Eva regularly offered dance-focused tours to Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco and dance-study intensives in Istanbul with native Turkish and Romani teachers.

Eva continues to teach and perform internationally.

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More of Eva's teaching and performing venues: for Saudi prince Bin Abd el Azziz in Marbella, Spain (1983); for president Gerald Ford in Vail, Colorado (1988); at Myoko Ebihara Studio in Tokyo (1989), Devadasi Studio, Tokyo (2008); Burcin Orhon's show on Turkish Television and in Eva's own salon in Istanbul (1995); Studio Artemis, MD (1997, 2016); European Oriental Festival in Duisburg, Germany produced by Leyla Jouvana (2000); Delilah's Maui retreat (2001); Anahid Sofian Studio weeklong dance intensives (2002 till present); soloist with Anahid Sofian Dance Company at Town Hall, New York City (2003); featured dancer in "Night on the Silk Road" at Boulder Theater, produced by Golden Sun Foundation for World Culture, including Kitaro (2003); Turkish style representative in "This is Belly Dance" production by IAMED at Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood (2003); Frequent Flyers' Theatre of the Vampires; and alternative and fire dances for composer Chris Mohr's opera "From the Realm of the Shadow".

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Eva's Hopes and intentions for the Future:

A multipurpose ethnic arts theater complex, with studios for classes, as well as a cafe with authentic foods from various countries, and of course, performances by local, national, and international artists. This can be funded by one angel investor or donor, or it can happen as a collective effort by a few fully committed participants.

I also envision it as a dinner-theater with changing menus according to the ethnicity of the presentation on stage. A cooking staff would be on hand to create meals directed by a guest experienced in cuisine of the featured ethnicity.  Big plans for this Lifetime ... or the next~ 


~8~ . ~8~ . ~8~ 

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