Wednesday, February 7, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Dance troupe honored by invitation to Italy event

By Katherine Nichols
Advertiser Staff Writer

It’s all in the mix.

For Dance Mix 2000, a local dance group based in Kailua, that means a variety of ethnicities, music and dance styles in any one performance. And they use every eclectic bit to advantage.

Each performance the group of five to 10 dancers gives to a graduating high school class or to crowds at the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park, for instance, involves a blend of hip-hop, popping, jazz, Latin, hula and Tahitian dance.

Hawaii-born and -raised Debbie Oschner, 49, works as a bookkeeper at Hardware Hawaii by day and has devoted any free time she has had in the past 25 years to choreographing. She decided to start a dance group with her two grown children in 1998, blending her experience in Tahitian dance and hula with more contemporary styles like hip-hop.

"It’s really fun because my mom puts everyone’s idea into the dance," said Sunshine Oschner, 19, a 2000 graduate of Kalaheo High School.

That includes brother Judah’s specialty, capoeira, a Brazilian dance/fight. "It’s like a martial art," explained Judah, 28, a disc jockey at Xtreme radio and one of the dancers in the group.

"Our signature move is that we go into the line and people do solos," Sunshine said. This allows individuals to showcase their special skills no matter what the style.

Sunshine and Judah also participate in a salsa dance group that hopes to perform in Los Angeles and Puerto Rico in the coming year. But the most exciting prospect is a recent invitation to perform at an international competition in Italy June 20-25.

"A promoter came here in 1999 and saw our group perform," Judah said. "I gave him our card. Then I got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago inviting us to perform two eight-minute pieces."

Given the short notice, the eight-member team has had no time to raise the estimated $1,500 per person they need to commit to the trip by March 28. But they are motivated.

And not just because it’s Italy. "It’s the fact that there’s going to be all kinds of dance there," Judah said. "They really take dance seriously. It would represent Hawaii internationally. And we would love that. We’re not asking for a handout, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Debbie agreed: "It’s an honor (to be invited). We have never been to Europe." And she is thrilled about the chance for more people to "see a mixture of many different dances in one number."

And who knows what they could learn as other groups perform? Dance Mix 2000 might come away with a new dance style to add to their own multicultural repertoire.

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