On the Boards,
217-9888. Through March 4.
Turf! begins with raw video footage of soldiers training in the jungle of a Central American country. We then see helicopters swirling in the sky, explosions, darkness, and death. The screen lifts, and a girl is lying on the floor. A group of traumatized peasants approach her, pull her up, and they all head up to America, fleeing the misery that Ronald Reagan has so pitilessly dealt on their poor country.
Despite this gritty opening, Turf! is not out to make a profound political statement. Its main project instead is to express the globalization of American urban spaces. Meaning, the immigration trajectory from Central America to L.A. (and then to all parts of the U.S.) is only one out of many possible trajectories, as is evidenced by the diversity of the dancers, who come from Japan, the Philippines, and Ecuador. And so what inspires the dancing, the music, the language of this performance is the need to articulate an America that is increasingly diverse, fragmented, and heading in new and strange directions.
In Turf! hiphop functions as the initiating and unifying agent for the diverse multitudes flowing in through the pores of the American border. Immigrants are not only influenced and transformed by it but also influence and transform it. This is why the breakdancing is a mad mix of many things--modern dancing, gymnastics, whatever comes into the minds of the moving youth. The music is a mix of hiphop's global offspring (jungle, triphop), and the flying figures in the graffiti art, which is done by Cause-B, are not black or white but the international color of light brown. In the end, one is pleased that the youth have made such excellent use of hiphop, and shown not only what it can do but where it can go.