Shining example of talent and self-belief
Self-confessed free spirit Seda Star was born in Istanbul, where her mother was a famous singer; her grandmother and great-grandmother were belly dancers. Now based in Redfern, the vivacious dancer, teacher and author shares a story of ambition and discovery.
When did you come to Australia?
One of my dancer friends came to Australia and she was my best friend. And I said, “Sevil, I will come and visit you.” She said, “You don’t even know where Australia is.” I thought Australia was Austria! But I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll come and visit you, no problem.”
Also, I was modelling. My modelling agency found me a job to dance [in Australia]. And I accepted. I got this dancing job and they paid me in advance. Dancing in the, how do you say, like a restaurant, a cabaret. So I came for dancing.
When was that?
In 1996. I came and I fell in love with Australia. I felt the spirits of the land and the people.
When I first arrived I saw this show called Aerobics Oz Style. I said to myself, “Wow, that’s great, all right!”
People were saying to me, “You have to do what you know best,” and for me, because I’m a free spirit, I didn’t want people to just give me places to do belly dancing because belly dancing was more like in the hidden places. So I said, “I will be belly dancing on TV!” I said, “I want to do belly dancing for the whole of Australia!” Then I said, “Oh yes, I can do aerobic belly dancing so everybody can know the benefits of belly dancing.” And then I made aerobic belly dancing fitness DVDs which sold around the world.
I remember seeing you on Channel 10, at about 6.30 in the morning.
You know what happened, actually it happened very quickly. I saw the aerobics instructors on TV and I started asking around, “Who is doing that, who is this person, who is the creator of Aerobics Oz Style?”
I said to my Serbian friend Milcah, who was like a mother to me, I said, “Milcah, I’m gonna do aerobic belly dancing, it’s gonna be great!” And then she said to me, “I know these people from on the TV, they always come shopping with me at the Westfield in Bondi Junction.” So that’s how I met Harry Michaels and his wife Effie, the creators of Aerobics Oz Style.
Milcah said [to them], “I know the best belly dancer in Turkey, she’s here right now, she’s going to make this DVD …” And Effie, she wants to see my photos from the stage. I had just the one photo of myself and she passed it to her husband. And Harry left so many messages on my answering machine. He said, “Yeah, I want to talk to you, I hear you’ve got something happening, we have to talk, call me back.”
I got excited. Because I’m in a new country and so on. And then I called him, of course, I went into the interview wearing pink, I will never forget – pink bra, white top, pink shoes. He said, “Listen, you have June Jones and the other girls to work with.” He put us together. “Can you do this, this and this? Okay, we’re going to do a TV show!”
At that time, actually, I had so much anxiety. But I got it. And my visualisation was, when I came to Australia, I saw them on TV and I wanted to approach them.
I did it for three years. I was on TV every morning. But I wasn’t in the newspaper – not until now!
What’s in store for you now? What is your dream?
My vision, actually, is quite big. I see myself going around the world, speaking and dancing with people, helping people to free themselves from themselves. I want to teach them how to free their minds, how to free their bodies and how to move through life. Don’t get stuck in the past, don’t get stuck in negative stories, just move forward and be happy, joyful. And feel happier and healthier.
I took part in the Mind, Body & Spirit festival on May 25 and 27 at Darling Harbour. I was teaching my affirmations and dancing, and signing my books [I am Seda, I Am the Dance]. I have travelled Australia for the Mind, Body & Spirit festivals over more than 12 years, and will be in Melbourne this month [June 8-11, Melbourne Exhibition Centre].
And then also the Psychic & Lifestyle Expo, which is more health related. It is one of the biggest festivals in Australia. So I’m going in August, I’m going to Canberra for that [August 17-19, AIS Arena].
I live in Redfern. I love it here, but I would like to help, if anything comes up. I’d like to do either dancing or my affirmations. I’d like to give something back to this community. Maybe I could lead a workshop …?