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Johnny A Lopez (Johnny5), a professional hip hop dancer, is collaborating with Micaya, artistic director of SoulForce and creator of the San Francisco International Hip Hop Dance Festival (SF International Hip Hop Dance Festival), in a project that brings together two distinctly different approaches to hip hop dance. From their partnership, they are creating a new work that will premiere at the festival in November 2021.

Born in Oakland, Johnny5 is the founder of TURF, a company rooted in TURF dancing – a form developed by urban youth in Oakland that combines boogaloo, miming, breakdancing, footwork, house dancing, and storytelling. (TURF is an acronym for “Taking Up Room on the Floor.”) In addition to being an instructor and performer, Johnny5 produces TURFinc dance battles/shows in Oakland.

SoulForce was created in 2001 by Micaya and has been featured in music videos, touring productions, nightclubs, cabarets, festivals, corporate events, college theaters, and commercials. Its work incorporates local dance and music performers with skills and training in salsa, hip hop, jazz, and contemporary dance among other genres. Bringing together Johnny5’s freestyling/improvised street dance and battle skills with Micaya’s choreographed approach, the artists and SoulForce intend to “meet in the middle,” creating a 30-minute work in which they find common ground and push each other past their comfort zones. The project will be documented in a narrative film by Javier Ochoa, who is part of TURFinc, and owner of High Voltage Films.

 Photo of SoulForce dancer by Ephraim Mardicas