Oakland, California has one of America’s highest crime rate and recently was ranked as this country’s 5th most dangerous city by CQ Press. Now, some of the city’s youth are transforming the city’s dangerous mean streets with dance.
D Real (he’s in the white shirt in the video below) had a brother Rich, who was killed in a car accident at the intersection of MacArthur Blvd. and 90th Avenue. The day after Rich died, D Real and a few dancers were gathered in YAKfilms’ office at Youth UpRising trying to think of a tribute that went beyond the standard R.I.P. T-shirt. Youth UpRising is a youth leadership center in Oakland with a professional dance studio.
The dancers decided to TURF dance in the rain on the corner where Rich was killed.
As explained by Queena Kim of The Bay Citizen on August 3, 2010:
TURF stands for “Taking Up Room on the Floor,” and it’s a form of street dancing that originated in Oakland. In contrast to other street dances, TURF aims to tell a story. Before his brother’s death, D Real had strayed from dancing and was beginning to dabble in music. In one of their last conversations, Rich told D Real to forget about music and focus on dancing, his real talent. So in memory of Rich, D Real and three friends who were willing to brave the pouring rain danced for this video….
TURF dancing is known for incorporating all types styles from the break dancing to popping and ballet…. In “Dancing in the Rain,” you can see dancers taking “en pointe” to a different level. And about 58 seconds into the video, you can also see one of TURF dancing’s signature moves–the “glide”–when the dancer who goes by the name “Man” skates across the water. On a dance floor, Man would glide across the dance floor to mark his turf.
To the untrained eye, the glide sorta looks like the moon dance, which begs the question: Was Michael Jackson the original TURF dancer?
“No, not in anyway whatsoever,” Savion said. “TURF dancing came about in the last 10 years. Michael Jackson was moon dancing long before that, and he had his own style, just like James Brown had his own style. But the genius of TURF dancing is we’re not inventing anything, we’re documenting and incorporating so many dance movements.”