Review: Oasis Dance Camp

Seminar Review: Oasis Dance Camp South 1996

(This essay was written by Sherezzah, and was published in Crescent Moon magazine Jan-Feb 1997.)

There are two main things I like about Oasis Dance Camp: The opportunity to meet and network with other dancers from all over (campers come from many different states and sometimes other countries--for example, this year at Oasis South we had three campers from England--and the camp environment of sharing meals and other extra time together means you actually get to talk to and learn something about your fellow campers); and the "extra" activities, those things you don't get at a regular seminar, like the after-lunch sit-down classes on special topics (for example, this year Camp South included classes on dance makeup and middle eastern rhythms), the costume show (where the campers get to show off their own costumes, not just the vendors showing what they have to sell), and the henna party (where we play drums, dance, and paint ourselves with henna). Oh, and of course Cassandra.

OK, there are three main things I like about Oasis Dance Camp: networking with other dancers, the special activities, and Cassandra, who I think is the best dancer and teacher in the world. Oh, and the other teacher is always excellent too.

There are four main things I like about Oasis Dance Camp: networking with other dancers, the special activities, Cassandra, and the addition of a second teacher, who usually teaches a "specialty" of something that is uncommon to find in regular workshops. For example, this year the second teacher was Zahra Zuhair, from California, teaching Moroccan styles of Guedra and Shikhatt. She was excellent, lecturing on costuming and history as well as teaching technique and choreography.

Well, as you can probably infer, I could go on and on about things I like about Oasis Dance Camp, but I did want to share a couple of specific experiences. Networking at Oasis was how I happened to meet Joani.

I had seen her at Camp in Michigan several times over the years I went there, although I hadn't really talked to her much. But it was a pleasant surprise when we ran into each other after she moved down here to Florida: "Hey, I know you!" We felt an instant cameraderie, knowing that we'd shared the Oasis experience; so I immediately invited her to come hang out with my troupe. She did, and now we've become good dance buddies. We're probably a good match, because we both have "wild and crazy" ideas sometimes. And a cool thing about camp, as I mentioned, is it has those "extra" activities... which can serve as an ideal occasion for little presentations or skits. Which means we can turn some of those wild and crazy ideas into reality!

For example, at a seminar we attended earlier this year, she mentioned that there was this move that her students called the "Zombie" step because it looked funny (they still weren't doing it quite right); that reminded me of a move I learned from Shareen el Safy, which I called the "Night of the Living Belly Dancers" step. We started thinking this could be the start of something silly we could do at Camp, especially since Camp was going to be very shortly after Halloween. So we talked, laughed, and planned it for the whole 4-hour drive back from the seminar (which seemed a lot shorter than 4 hours). It turned into a skit called "Costumes to Die For", which we had a blast actually putting on (along with the other 4 troupe members who attended) at the costume show.

I think that skit might have been the most memorable thing for me at Camp this year. Oh, and the food, especially the "Floribbean" fish barbecue. And the cool location at the lighthouse. And can't forget our OSHA skit. And all the great dancing at the Hafla, of course. And....

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