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I am the director and choreographer of the Athena Studio of World Dance where we teach Turkish Cabaret style Oriental Dance, Polynesian dance and Flamenco both through our studio and through Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

My mother was the accompanist for a dance instructor, so starting from the age of 3 I basically grew up in a dance studio and then continued my studies at the University of Nebraska where I minored in dance. From classical ballet, jazz, modern, acrobatics, ball room and tap, to Flamenco and Polynesian, I found that all forms of dance gave me joy. But, I found my true passion when I discovered Oriental Dance later in life, and fell in love with the beautiful music, the graceful moves and the costuming. I continued my studies of Polynesian dance attending Polynesian workshops on both the mainland and in Hawaii, and performing throughout the Midwest.

In my Oriental Dance persona, I dance under the stage name of Ashiya, and along with the Co-Director of the Athena Studio – Naajidah – are the featured dancers since 2002 at the Parthenon, a Greek restaurant here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Additionally I dance with our troupe, the Athenian Dancers at such events as ethnic festivals, workshops, corporate and civic events, as well as private events. I have also been the instructor at many workshops throughout the Midwest and Hawaii, including being a guest instructor for the University of Nebraska Dance Program and Artist in Residence for the Lincoln Public Schools. This year, The Athenian Dancers have been selected from many applications to appear at The Lied Center for Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska for the 2007-2008 season.

As a member of The Trade Wind Dancers, we perform regularly at many venues, including civic, educational and corporate events and private luaus. We return often to Hawaii to study with Kumu Hulas (master teachers) as well as attending workshops throughout the United States.

The Athena Studio hosts an annual Oriental Dance workshop in June here in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we also co-host an annual Polynesian dance workshop in Kansas City in July. For information on The Athena Studio, including our Oriental and Polynesian workshops, please visit our website.

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