Oasis North 1999

Review: Oasis Dance Camp North, September 1999

by Sherezzah Bint al-Waha

Ah, Camp. I could go on and on about how great Oasis Dance Camp ("ODC") is, but most of it would be redundant. (I have a lot of info about ODC at my troupe site, starting here.) So here I'll just focus on what made this particular camp special, along with showing some of the digital photos I took.

1. Preparation

I was going to Camp North with my friend Joani. The last time we'd been there, in 1995, we'd decided that the next time we came, we wanted to decorate our room. But, since we obviously couldn't compete with the Twin Palms (right) for Middle Eastern decor, we'd need to use a different theme... and the obvious choice was Floridiana.

So, we'd been collecting stuff for a Florida-theme room since 1995, but once we determined we'd actually get there this year, we began organizing the stuff in earnest. Beach towels, grass mats, tropical fish sheet sets and ornaments, pink flamingos, a beach umbrella, tropical print fabric and clothing, toy lizards, etc. Joani found the most perfect thing: an inflatable pool toy in the form of a very large shark. It was probably 6 feet long. She named it "Rocks Sharky", of course.

2. Getting there

ODC North is held in Traverse City, Michigan. Joani and I were coming from South Florida, so we had plane reservations on Northwest from Ft. Lauderdale connecting thru Detroit, getting in mid-afternoon so we'd have plenty of time to unpack and decorate before dinner. Alas, hurricane Floyd threatened in the days before we were to leave, and even though he turned away without causing S. Florida any damage, he did wreak havoc on the airline schedules.

Our initial flight was cancelled, and the best flights they could reschedule us for and confirm us on wouldn't get us in until almost midnight--way later than we wanted. However, by putting ourselves on standby and by the grace of Allah (we were the absolute last people squeezed on the commuter flight to Traverse City), we arrived just in time to make the opening ceremonies, and were even able to grab a little of the dinner leftovers (gyros, pita, and salad). Later we had some time to do most of our decorating (sign left, more photos below).


3. Being there

We brought some clothes to dress Rocks Sharky in, but as it turned out nothing fit. Not only was he VERY big, but he had these big fins sticking out of his back and sides. The best we could do was a thobe nashal, which wasn't too bad except the neck wasn't big enough to go down past his mouth. So we showed him in the costume show the first night as a costume problem (right).

We also brought him to pose for the official camp group photo. The teachers wanted to pose with him also. All in all, he was a big hit, as was our room decoration. (Left, Joani playing with Rocks at the lake. Click here for a picture of a shark attack!)

And the weather was just gorgeous the whole time... we actually held some classes outside on the lawn.

4. The teaching

Cassandra taught a lovely choreography to an old number by Mohamed Abdel Wahab. Definitely a "keeper" to show the troupe. Kay Hardy Campbell taught a rather complex Saudi choregraphy, designed for a group of 4 people. We came up with some fun names for some of the combinations, like "pile up jewelry", "hot flashes", and "human hair wave". Another "keeper".

5. The show

The highlight was no doubt the three teachers all performing at once: Kay playing the oud, Nicole the drum, and Cassandra dancing (right). Here's more photos:

6. The finale

Rocks Sharky won the "Camp Spirit" award. Both teachers requested we bring him again to Camp South (3 weeks later).

Camp ended early afternoon, but our plane flights were not until the following morning (saved a lot of money that way), so we were staying overnight at the Day's Inn in town. As it turned out, so were two other campers, so we hung out together, visiting the museum at the local college (some nifty "hands-on" exhibits there), watching the ducks by the lake, having dinner at Mabel's, and soaking in the hot tub.