All The Breaks
The music is blaring at Loft in Space behind Fresh Cafe as the various crews warm up for Trilogy: A Street Culture Event, thrown by Freelance, Beat Rock Krew’s sponsor. The lime-green BRK letters on the front of Josh “Skittles” Sevellino’s black shirt seem to illuminate under the lights as he sways and nods his head to the beat.
He proudly wears his HE>i wristband as he warms up on the floor before the battles begin.
The tan-and-blue Nikes on his feet are a blur as his whole body contorts to the music with such mastery that a normal person could only dream of having.
During the final round, Sevellino performs his signature move. After the final round that pits BRK against Team Japan, all three judges wave their hands to the left in BRK’s direction.
But for Sevellino, it isn’t about winning. He believes teaching is vital to the growth of the community, and it all starts with planting seeds. The b-boy community b as in breakdance has grown over the last couple of years, and Sevellino wants to see continued growth. The general public might not know about the b-boy scene because it’s so underground, but his goal is to make an impact on those around him by staying positive and being a good role model in the hope that the b-boy community will grow.
Teaching is what Sevellino likes to do, whether he gets paid or not, and it’s a blessing that builds character.
Many of the local dancers usually go to the Mainland where there are more opportunities and competitions.
“For me, I think we should make this the place, Hawaii the place, where people want to come,” Sevellino says.
He will head to the Philippines in May for more than two weeks to tour six different cities battling, judging and holding workshops. He says this trip is a blessing because he gets to represent Hawaii.
Growing up in Kalihi, at the age of 7 Sevellino’s brother Patrick started teaching him how to dance.
Although he is known to most as Josh Skittles, he’s had an assortment of nicknames. His brother’s name was RAWcus, and people would call Sevellino “Young RAWcus” or “RAWcus Jr.” But while in Las Vegas, he was part of Rock Skittle Krew, and he just put “Josh” in front of the name “Skittles.” Even though he dropped out of that crew when he moved back, people call him by that name.
“Maybe if I find another adjective I’ll change my name,” Sevellino says with a smile. “But I usually just go by Josh.”
He started BRK in 2007, almost a year before he left for Las Vegas at the age of 18. While the group started off small, it now consists of about 15 members, including high school kids.
Members of the crew are all different ages so they try to compromise, and there really is no leader. “We try our best to hang out, just to be unified and on the same page, like a family,” Sevellino says.
“Actually, it’s more like a relationship,” he adds, laughing. “We expect a call if you’re not going to come to practice.”
Sevellino accounts BRK’s success to their relationship off the dance floor. They spend almost every day together brainstorming, practicing and keeping each other in check.
“We literally live with each other, building our chemistry outside, so on the dance floor it shows we’re united,” he explains. “I think that counts for a lot, and people can see that.”
Sevellino’s life growing up was hard, but he views it as an opportunity to give hope to others, starting with those in his crew. The majority of the members in Beat Rock Krew come from divorced families, and one day Sevellino was able to share his testimony, which resulted in one of his crew members giving their life over to Christ.
“I love this community,” Sevellino says. “Just considering being a Christian and turning to dance, it actually gets you somewhere.”
This past December, BRK took first in the World of Dance b-boy category. This victory makes for the second win at World of Dance for the crew.
These victories don’t come easy, and it takes more than a strong relationship among crew members. When a competition is coming up, they practice anywhere from four to eight hours a day every day.
“When I first moved back from Vegas, we would practice almost like a part-time job,” Sevellino says. The brainstorming, physical practice, figuring out how to set up routines and just talking story adds to the group’s cohesiveness.
The crew practices anywhere. They usually practice at recreation centers and at Farrington High School, where Sevellino first started dancing; but sometimes they carry cardboard boxes to empty parking lots or practice in their living rooms. The crew always manages to get practice in somehow.
“Making things happen because of what we want to achieve can’t be stopped by small situations,” Sevellino says with a smile. “We have to do stuff like that if we want to get better.”
He realizes that if he focused on winning, he wouldn’t get anywhere as a dancer. While he knew it would be a lot of work, it’s paying off now, and he says it’s not about how much a person or crew wins or loses.
“I lost hundreds of times before I won my first competition,” he explains. “I’ve been dancing seriously for about five years, and the first three years I didn’t win. It was three years of paying dues.”
Many people sometimes choose what’s popular, but Sevellino never lets what anyone says define him as a b-boy.
“When I got serious when I was about 17, that’s when I told myself, ‘I want to dance, and I don’t care what anyone says or who judges me,’” he says. “Always be yourself and do what you want to do, no matter what people’s opinions are on what a move is or what looks nice. It shouldn’t define who you are.”
However, learning how to perform different moves and routines is only one part of what makes a winner. There’s also a lot of strategy. “If you’re good up here,” Sevellino says pointing to his head, “then you can be good on the dance floor, and most people don’t know that.”
When Sevellino returned from Las Vegas in 2009 at the age of 19, he went to the Philippines to teach free dance workshops at a local church. He used these workshops as a platform to invite people to the church services.
Even though he can’t speak a Filipino dialect, Sevellino was able to reach out to those in the community using dance, which helped with the language barrier.
As he says, “I can speak fluent body language.”
He believes his gift of dance comes from God, and he uses it to bless others.
“All these people spoke life into my dance, and they took their time to do that, so why not give back?”
He knows there is so much people can do for the b-boy community, and he also realizes that he’s just one person. Sevellino explains that if everyone could put down their egos and teach, one can only imagine what Hawaii’s scene would be like. This year, he and the rest of Beat Rock Krew will be doing a lot of traveling to put Hawaii on the map.
“I want to leave a legacy,” he says. “We can build a community.”