“Urribarri Style” with Luis Gonzalez
Luis Gonzales is a dancer, break dancer, and martial arts tricker in Colorado Springs. He performs and teaches classes.
Note: Martial arts tricking is a relatively new sport that combines acrobatics and martial arts moves into a solo performance routine.
How do you define an artist? I like to say that the best artists are the ones who draw inspiration from the past in order to innovate for the future. And Luis Gonzalez Jr. does exactly that through his athletic performance arts.
Latin dancing. Breakdancing. Martial arts tricking. These are, as Gonzalez describes, the three pillars of his art.
“What I’ve been trying to do for a while,” he says, “is to unite all of them and make it one movement.”
Urribarri. That’s the artist name he’s given himself and it’s the name of the new hybrid sport he’s developing.
“My mother’s maiden name is Urribarri so it’s a really rare last name and that’s almost the artist in me that I go by because my father’s last name is Gonzalez, which is really common. So I feel as an artist that I don’t want to be so common. So I’ve taken Urribarri as my artist name that I can identify myself as. And in a way it would just me. It’s just me Urribarri, I don’t know.”
But who is “just me?” Gonzalez’s story begins in Venezuela where he was born. That’s where he was first introduced to dancing.
“In Venezuela,” he says, “it’s a Latin country, salsa dancing, a lot of Latin music is really common. Everybody listens to it. So my family, growing up I always saw them dancing. My uncles, aunts, cousins, like family get-togethers, everybody’s usually dancing… But growing up I wasn’t really into dancing. I was more into martial arts.
“And then when I moved to Puerto Rico I continued karate because my dad got me into it and he did karate… But in Puerto Rico dancing is very big, so I mean in Venezuela it is big as well, but I feel like in Puerto Rico it’s even bigger. It’s huge. So, there’s concerts everywhere in the streets. There’s live music everywhere… So I couldn’t run away from it.”
Then at thirteen, Gonzalez moved to Colorado Springs. He took boxing classes. He practiced Jujitsu. Yet dancing was always within reach.
“The more I learned about martial arts the more I found out that martial arts is just like dancing. So I learned a lot about Bruce Lee, you know, how he was like a chacha champion. I learned about Mohammad Ali and how he’s like a dancer in the ring. Just really learned about having rhythm… So I was like, rhythm and dancing was like the next step of this martial arts path I’ve taken.”
Some people might think that if you want to be an expert, you have to focus. Pick one thing. But not for Gonzalez. He sees these movement arts as self-expression and his life story is as diverse as his sweet moves.
“I feel like it represents me in a way,” he says. “When I do Latin dancing, it brings me back to the times with my parents and my sister and my family when we were together… It reminds me of those times of all of us being happy as a family. I guess like celebrating. In a way when I’m Latin dancing I love showing off that joy, that happiness that reminds me of those times.”
“With the tricking, I feel like there’s fear. Fear is a big part of it. I’m scared I’m going to break my neck… I like to show that even if you’re scared, even if you’re worried – I really want to show passion, like hunger – just go get it no matter how challenging it is, no matter how hard it is, just go get it.”
“And with the breakdancing, I feel like the flow helps me. With breakdancing it teaches me how to include everything together. To position everything together to make it seem like one dance… It’s not easy to mix things and make them look good.”
All of these elements combine into his unique blend of Urribarri movement art.
And having spent his childhood outside the country, yet living most of his life in Colorado Springs, Gonzalez possesses a unique perspective on the city.
“What I do wish to see is more artists, more artists move to Colorado Springs even though it might seem intimidating because it’s a conservative town. I feel like artists should feel encouraged to move here, to make a change. Because it’s easier to make a change here than to make a change in a place where there’s a lot of artists already… Let’s shape this city for artists the way you want to.”
And finally, I can’t help but ask about the facebook goats. Gonzalez laughs and says G.O.A.T. stands for “Greatest of All Time.” That’s what he wants to be. That’s what he wants his students to be. And so to get participants pumped for a recent martial arts tricking event he hosted, Gonzalez brought in live baby goats. And if you check out the pictures yourself, you’ll see they were a hit.
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