Best Dance/Performance Troupe: Zealously blending styles for a moderate palate
For a generation raised on hip-hop (in which songs are stitched together with a rap from this guy, a loop from that guy, and a backing track from that other guy), art is about pastiche -- i.e., combining seemingly disparate things to make something new, clean, and sublime. The dancers at Oakland's Destiny Arts Center -- home of the adult dance troupe D.R.E.A.M. ("Destiny Redefining Education through Art and Movement") and the venerable Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company -- are masters of this protean form, both in terms of their music (in a single piece, they might set cumbia-style percussion against a Top 40 rap hit) and their moves (which combine traditional African dance with jigga-jigga hip-hop and sweeping martial-arts kicks). Destiny Arts is one of the few programs with the audacity to couple B-boys with Balkan folkdancers (most of whom also happen to be B-boys), assuming that such things might blend effectively, even if they don't have the same genesis. By some alchemy, these mixed marriages actually work -- and the product is still funky enough to satisfy your inner MC.