RIP Rich D: Dancing in the Rain

What a difference some context makes. I few months ago I came across this video of four young men doing some amazing dancing on a street corner (via a link on Twitter, natch). The dancing style is like a fusion of ballet and breakdancing, I’d never seen anything like it, and the rainy streetcorner setting and minor-key soundtrack made the scene particularly otherworldly and melancholy.

Today a friend IMed me a link to an article on Oakland’s TURF dancing that explained it all, and the story makes the video even more fascinating.

TURF stands for “taking up room on the floor,” and the kids in the video staged the performance in memory of one of their brothers, who died at that same corner. The community center in Oakland where they came up with the idea has it’s own dance studio and apparently the dance aesthetics are frequently influenced by YouTube.

TURF dancing is known for incorporating all types styles from the break dancing to popping and ballet. From his vantage point as a video teacher at Youth UpRising, Savion says that YouTube has been instrumental in TURF dancing’s evolution.

“The dancers would come to my office and watch YouTube videos,” Savion said. “They’d watch everything. Once we even saw a random video of 1950s jazz dancing in Chicago that the dancers would incorporate into TURF.”

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.

– The Bay Citizen: “Oakland’s TURF Dancing Goes Global” 8/3/2010

With the “Dancing in the Rain” video, these kids have had a chance to influence YouTube right back. As of this writing, they’re up to 936,558 views!

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