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Oakland Ballet collaborates with street dance crew

A dance crew that created a unique style known as turfin will showcase their skills in a special collaboration with Oakland Ballet.
If you go to the ballet in Oakland next week, you'll see something far different from the traditional performances. Their new season celebrates the city's diversity, including a dance form that was created in Oakland.

It originated in Oakland back in the 1990s -- a dance style known as turfin. It's now moving from the streets to the stage.

"We're showing people it is relevant," said Rayshawn Thompson. "Turfin has a point in the whole dancing genre."

The popular Oakland street dance crew Turffeinz is now collaborating with the Oakland Ballet as part of the ballet's spring season, called Oakland-esque.

"People get to see the classic side of turfin and people get to see the hood side of ballet," said Garion Morgan.

"They have the same coordination and balance that we do as ballet dancers, but they use it in a different way," said Oakland Ballet dancer Vincent Chavez.

Fellow Oakland Ballet performer Emily Ker adds, "They work a lot with improvising and free styling so it's been fun kind of being stretched and pulled out of our shells a little bit."

The unique pairing of sneakers and slippers was Mayor Jean Quan's idea. She saw the Turffeinz dancing in the rain video that has gone viral on YouTube and suggested the collaboration with the Oakland Ballet.



"I'm hoping it'll bring a younger audience to the ballet and put a definite Oakland mark," said Mayor Quan. "It's not your grandmother's ballet."

"So the idea of bringing them into the studio, learning a bit of their style, sharing some of our ballet style with them, has been a joy," said Artistic Director Graham Lustig.

The dancers have been rehearsing for weeks are ready for their close-ups on May 16 and 17.
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