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Shok-Raw: Hip-hop has a beautiful side

Flavio Chacon Jr., aka “Shok-Raw,” has been competing in Hip-hop dances since he was a boy. Dance is his way of telling stories and bringing people together. This April 2016 photo shows him competing in the “Breakin’ Walls” competition in Carlsbad. (Submitted Photo)

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Expression through movement is as ancient as it gets. From celebrations of life, such as the original Maori Haka dance. To the formalized rituals of Ballroom dance. To Hip-hop and Dubstep, dance has always been a means of saying what words cannot convey.

Every generation reinvents dance in response to the culture they grew up in. When you see dance moves you don’t understand, you can bet that you don’t understand how the world has affected those dancers. Consider dance to be an invitation to learn another way of seeing your world. If you do, you’ll find those strange moves come from people you can easily relate to.

The town of Dexter has given us the gift of Flavio Chacon Jr. In the Hip-hop world he is known as “Shok-Raw” and his dance evokes emotions in those who stop to watch, without fully understanding why it’s easy to feel a bit less alone in the world’s turmoil when you watch his moves.

“When I dance I’m lost, Shok-Raw said. “My spirituality is taking control of me. Even when I first started dancing in competitions I’d look back and wonder how I’d done what I did. The more I dance, the more I get in touch with myself.”

The names Hip-hop dancers use are often given to them by their peers.

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“My instructor, Michael “RawkOne” Soza introduced us to Chakras,” Shok-Raw said. “He has buddies that are spiritual dancers. Chakras are points of energy where a person gets in touch with their spiritual being. I was given that name because I was expressing how I feel.”

Hip-hop is more than a dance style. It’s a subculture. There are multiple elements to it, according to Shok-Raw.

“Hip-hop is five different elemental styles,” he said. “There’s dance, such as breaking, popping, and other evolving styles. There’s Graffiti, the art of Hip-hop. The MC, or Master of Ceremonies is the lyricist and poet of Hip-hop. The DJ provides the energy for the rest of us. Finally, there’s the lifestyle. You don’t have to do any of these things to be Hip-hop. If you love the style and you support it and live it, you’re Hip-hop.”

Shok-Raw had part of his name used as a “tag” by a vandal in town. That person was arrested by Roswell police in June of 2018. The Graffiti that Hip-hop celebrates is done with respect for property.

“Graffiti artists are making paintings to sell on the streets,” he said. “Hip-hop is not about disrespecting anybody.”

Like many subcultures, Hip-hop is inclusive and works to resolve differences.

“In Hip-hop we work to bring all cultural communities together,” Shok-Raw said. “It started on the East Coast with Afrika Bambaataa. He got inspiration from Africa. Over time he developed it into a whole new genre. When break dance got to the West Coast, the Latino culture revolutionized it. They added head-spins and other things that came from gymnastics. Dancing was how problems between people got solved. Instead of fighting, they’d dance.

“You‘ve got different races. You’ve got different styles, You’ve got different expressions. You’ve got different opinions, but it still would bring us together. From close by, from out of town. That’s what kept this movement alive.”

Shok-Raw has been dancing since he was a small child. He started by imitating his sisters.

“My sisters were always dancing so I copied their choreography and eventually it just sunk in,” he said. I was like every kid, I got into a trend. Over time I got better in my dancing and I wanted to challenge people. Even in high school, I was challenging people to dance. I was dancing against others and by my freshman year, I wanted to enter hip-hop competitions.

Shok-Raw has become an ambassador for Hip-hop. He is working to balance his responsibilities with his dreams.

“I’ve given speeches to elementary schools in Artesia,” he said. “I love speaking to the younger people about what I do. In town I had a couple of ladies recognize me from some street dancing I’d done. They wanted me to dance for them. I was wearing a tank top and sweatpants, so I was a little nervous about that. I want to take my dancing professional, but dance is hard to make a living at. I got my family, my kids and my wife. I have to work to take care of them.”

His first formal dance competition was at the Roswell Mall. He danced in the first Space Warz competition in 2010.

“I was super-nervous in my first competition,” Shok-Raw said. “I danced against this girl. I lost in the next round against my friend Chris Nunez. He inspired me. We all looked up to Chris and Lane “Doeboogie” Lawrence-Yslas.”

Space Warz 3, part one is coming up in 2019 and Shok-Raw is organizing it.

“Space Warz Three, part one is happening March 30, 2019,” he said. “It will be a one-on-one popping battle and a one-on-one B-Boy breaking competition. The prize will be at least $500.”

Shok-Raw has a healer’s gift that shows in his dancing. He loves people and it shows. He posts videos of his dancing on his YouTube channel, Shok-Raw.

“I love that my dance can give people joy,” he said. “The video I did for my mom was to Tina Turner’s song ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’. That’s her favorite song. The story I tell in my dance is about her love. I tell about being a baby in her arms. I tell about picking up pieces of a broken heart. I let it flow through me.”

Shok-Raw is proud to share the beauty of Hip-hop.

“Regardless of what you see,” he said, “You never know what a person can do to escape a bad life. Hip-hop has a beautiful side that’s worthy of respect.”

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