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    Impromptu Houston break dancer visit becomes a reunion

    Impromptu Houston Break Dancer Visit Becomes a Reunion

    Photo By Senior Airman Ruth Holcomb | Moy Rivas, a member of the Houston-based break dancing group, Havikoro, talks to...... read more read more

    MANAS AIR BASE, KYRGYZSTAN

    10.14.2008

    Story by Maj. Rickardo Bodden 

    376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    By Maj. Damien Pickart
    376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan -- When five Houston break dancers walked into Pete's Place, Moy Rivas turned to Chris Thomas and jokingly commented, "I wonder if we'll meet anyone we know."

    Little did the two realize that their unscheduled performance at the Manas Air Base morale center would become a reunion with a fellow Houston native whose family played a big role in their childhood and entrance into the world of break dancing.

    Havikoro, a break dance group based out of Houston, performed for a packed audience of nearly 300 Manas Airmen, Oct. 4, 2008. The visit was tacked onto an already busy one-week trip to Kyrgyzstan, where the group danced at a number of venues in and around the capital of Bishkek. The group's trip was sponsored by a U.S. State Department cultural outreach program that has taken them to 43 countries over the past several years.

    "We had a great time performing throughout Kyrgyzstan," said Havikoro member Christopher Gamez, who has performed with the group since the early 90s. "When Mike [Michael Rosenthal, U.S. Embassy cultural affairs officer] asked if we'd like to add a performance to our schedule and entertain some of troops deployed here, we all said yes – definitely. These guys are serving away from their families for us; there was no way we were going to pass on this."

    Havikoro's energetic show and first time performance for U.S. and coalition service members also served as a special reunion for a surprised Airman in the audience.

    "I saw the e-mail advertisement that some break dancers were going to be here and decided why not," said Staff Sgt. David Perez, 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron supply and vehicle control officer. "When I saw them on stage I said, 'I think I know these kids."'

    And know them he did. Eleven years earlier, the Houston native's aunt, Helen Perez, provided Thomas, then a homeless 13 year old, a roof over his head and a place for he and his friend Moy to hang out. Even more ironic, the reunion was made possible by David Perez's cousin, Felix Perez, who introduced Rivas and Thomas to break dancing more than a decade earlier.

    "After our performance, I heard someone holler, 'Hey you two – get over here!'" said Thomas. "Moy and I were shocked to see David after all these years. The Perez family was so good to us growing up. I can't believe we'd run into each other on the other side of the world. What a blessing this evening has been."

    David Perez, now in the Air National Guard at Ellington Field, Texas, grew up on the east side of Houston in Channel View. He fondly recalled how many of the neighborhood youth would hang out with his family and stay out of trouble.

    "Little John [Chris] and Moy were always around," said David Perez. "Our neighborhood was split by Lockwood Blvd. My parents provided a hangout for the kids on the south side of Lockwood; Aunt Helen took in those on the north side. There were always so many kids running around. I remember Little John and Moy learning to break dance and Felix teaching them new moves. They've definitely gotten a lot better. I just can't believe they're here."

    After their performance, Rivas, Thomas and David Perez made the most of the surprise reunion and caught up on where life had taken them while the rest of the group, Amado Ramirez, Gamez and Isaac Barron, signed autographs and crowded together for pictures with the thankful audience.

    "This was definitely our best performance while here," said Rivas. "Putting on a show for the troops who sacrifice so much for us was great, but seeing David here – now that was really incredible."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.14.2008
    Date Posted: 10.14.2008 05:19
    Story ID: 24933
    Location: MANAS AIR BASE, KG 

    Podcast Hits: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN