Here at DS, we love a good style mashup. When someone with a vision sees the similarities between two distinct styles of dance, the result is usually stunning. (I'm looking at you, JR.)
Mud Water Theatre is no different. The Oakland, CA, company bridges the gap between street dancers and ballet dancers in a new way, by featuring a unique, Oakland-based style called turfing.
According to MWT, turfing is characterized by fluidity, an attention to making shapes and using pantomime to tell a story...just like ballet! In a documentary by KQED, we also spotted some bone-breaking and tutting when MWT turfers were dancing. Similarly, the ballet dancers utilize their contemporary training when they perform. Members of the company are drawing from their individual technique toolbox to find common ground with each other. We love that MWT aims to merge the two dance forms, rather than merely juxtapose them.
Did you know that, until last week, the town of Oakland, CA had a ban on "dance marathons"? Yup. The ban was put in place on November 18, 1930. Apparently it outlawed a craze that reached its peak after the 1929 stock market crash: Strapped for cash and hoping to win the prize money, people would take the marathons to a scary extreme, falling asleep on each other or having "squirrelly" fits after hours of dancing. Yipes.
Anyway, the town council recently voted to drop the law. As the SFGate article notes, in this day of marathons and other endurance sports, the controversy that initially prompted the ban seems a little quaint. (That said, here's hoping no one suffers a dance marathon-induced "squirrelly" episode anytime soon...)