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Explore Dance, Place and Culture With This Family Summer Playlist

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 (Illustration using images from KQED Arts’s If Cities Could Dance: A Video Series)

Stay active this summer through dance! This selection of If Cities Could Dance videos features cities across California where dance, place and culture intersect. Invite students and their families to step into the shoes of dancers who dare to imagine what it would look like if their city could dance. View the videos and start dancing with the bonus activities.

Watch the playlist of California-based episodes or view all of KQED’s If Cities Could Dance series.

A Praise Dance for the Town of Oakland

Dance in Oakland might be synonymous with homegrown street styles like turfing, but the city’s creative spirit attracts people from all walks of life, and they, in turn, help shape its artistic culture. Spirituality plays a big role in Frankie Lee Peterson’s relationship with dance, and his belief in God is the inspiration for his liberatory movements. Watch as Peterson leaps, twirls and pirouettes in front of an Oakland Superheroes Mural, outside the historic Fox Theater, and by the Remember Them: Champions for Humanity Monument, which pays homage to important figures like Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X.

How Turfing Became Synonymous with Oakland

If you’ve spent any time in Oakland, you’ve probably witnessed some turfing. The homegrown dance happens everywhere: on BART, at the First Friday art walk, at the Warriors’ Oracle Arena and even in music videos for Bay Area rap stars like E-40 and G-Eazy. In this Oakland episode of If Cities Could Dance, directed by Yak Film’s Yoram Savion, meet Oakland dance stars Zeus, Yung Phil and Icecold3000. Watch as they dance in front of the Creators Gone Create turfing mural in West Oakland, MacArthur BART station and Youth UpRising teen center in East Oakland to the music of Drew Banga and Jwalt, also featuring Mistah Fab.

Zoot Suits and Zapateado: Channeling Chicana Resistance

In the heart of San Francisco’s Mission district, the pulsing beat of the neighborhood’s dense and vibrant mix of Latinx cultures comes from the clicking heels and toes of tap shoes.


San Francisco’s La Mezcla dance company, founded and led by Vanessa Sanchez, uses dance and song to tell stories of Chicana history, culture and resistance. Blending tap dance and zapateado (rhythmic footwork from Mexico), Sanchez describes La Mezcla’s unique dance style as “zapatap.” Watch Vanessa Sanchez, Sandy Vazquez, Emmeline Gonzalez-Beban and Kirsten Millan give us a tour along Calle 24, the Mission’s cultural corridor, and dance before some of the neighborhood’s most recognizable sights.

Bonus Activities: Go step-by-step with Vanessa Sanchez to learn tap dancing moves. Explore a virtual story map and learn more about the murals and locations featured in this If Cities Could Dance episode.

Keep Strutting and Popping Alive in San Jose

In San Jose, dancers create an illusion you can’t look away from. Arms move fluidly, then suddenly lock into place. Feet glide across the pavement. The motions echo across the group in perfect synchronization. They pop, they strut. They’re Playboyz Inc. The Playboyz capture the essence of a city that shapes their every move. Watch them pop, wave, strut and tut underneath the SJSU Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice, through the intersection of Paseo de San Antonio and 4th to the steps of San Jose’s City Hall.

The Richmond Renaissance is Now For Dancers of R.O.O.T.S. The Movement

“People who came from the South in the 1940s, they came with so much spunk to make these ships for the war,” says fellow dancer Kabreshiona Tiyteea La’Shae Smith. “That just fuels my fire to continue to go hard for our city.” R.O.O.T.S. The Movement members, all born and raised in Richmond, perform a mixture of styles influenced by krumping, hip-hop moves, African dance and modern ballet. For the dance troupe, their approach to collaborative choreography is crucial to their mission. Watch Deontae Watkins, Kabreshiona Tiyteea La’Shae Smith and Aziza Thomas dance proudly in front of Point Richmond, along Macdonald Avenue and outside the RYSE Youth Center (where young artists created some of the music heard in this video).

Welcome to the House of Love: Voguing in San Francisco

According to Jocquese Whitfield (aka Sir JoQ), voguing — equal parts hard edges and soft curves — embodies the spirit of San Francisco. “San Francisco is dramatic because the rent is increasing, but it’s soft cause we’re still sitting here, unbothered,” he says. Vogue balls — and the houses that formed around them — have long been sources of community and support for LGBTQ people of color. Voguing as a dance form draws from fashion poses, martial arts, gymnastics and pantomime; it gained popularity in 1970s Harlem. The style later took root in Oakland and San Francisco, and spread worldwide after Madonna’s international hit “Vogue.” Watch Sir JoQ, Shea Mizrahi and DJ Spiider catwalk, duckwalk, spin, dip and drop through San Francisco — from Chinatown to the MUNI tracks to the Mission.

Bonus Activity: Take a KQED Art School class to learn the basics of voguing with Sir JoQ.

Oaxacan Culture Alive in Fresno with Mexican Folk Dance

Behind handmade masks and under animal furs, the Oaxacan community of Casa San Miguel in Fresno, California perform a folk dance that hails from Spain, Mexico and now, the San Joaquin Valley. Watch Los Diablos de Juxtlahuaca Oaxaca dance to the sounds of local chilenas band Tamborazo Junior—in nearby almond orchards through Fresno’s downtown into the city’s neighborhoods.

Bonus video: This KQED Art School video introduces the elements of dance.


Bonus Activity:
In a special If Cities Could Dance episode, Dear Dancer: A Video Chain Letter To Move you, dancers around the country were asked to film themselves on their rooftops, patios, stoops, front yards, sidewalks and parks of their city. Watch this video then, create your own dance video about your home, your community, your city.

Find more playlists and free resources for families and educators in our At-Home Learning collection.

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