Youth Radio producers Chaz Hubbard and Ike Sriskandarajah recall riding BART last summer, brainstorming new projects to cover the art scene in the Bay Area, when an idea appeared right before their eyes.
The colleagues heard a commotion and glanced through the train doors to see a group of young men dancing. More specifically, the men were turf dancing, which is a form of street dancing that in recent years has made its way from Oakland to the Bay Area's transit system.
“The whole crowd seemed engaged,” Hubbard said of the turf dancers he saw in August. “We talked to them after they finished their set and asked if we could do a video profile on them.”
Hubbard and Sriskandarajah were unable to reconnect with the turf dancers from the train, but they did find several others who were willing to share their stories.
The pair ultimately shadowed seven or so turf dancers who were performing back and forth between West Oakland and San Francisco for about four hours Oct. 2. With a production team of young adults – Luis Flores and Mikey Prizmich – and executive producer Ellin O'Leary, Youth Radio released their eight-minute-long video on turf dancing Tuesday.
“The main thing was that they're sort of misunderstood as to why they're performing on these trains,” Flores said of what he learned during the production. “Dancing is a form of positive expression for them, like they say in the video. It's not just about the money.”
Turf dancers do, however, ask for donations, and some seek to earn up to $50 a day.
Oakland-based Youth Radio has produced a number of other documentaries as well that focus on local art scenes.
Watch the video Turf Dancing From Street To Subway below.