"No One Is Expecting A Twerk, Or Naked Guy Dancing, Or Ballet" - Stab Mag
Former gymnastics prodigy Joaquim Chavez shaking off the chalk in his natal country, Portugal. Frame: White Flag Productions

“No One Is Expecting A Twerk, Or Naked Guy Dancing, Or Ballet”

A chat with a young Portuguese polymath about his latest edit and how to stand out in saturated cyberspace.

cinema // Jul 7, 2023
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Video: White Flag Productions

Joaquim Chavez knows he’s not the best.

“I’m still not doing those huge airs that California and Hawaii kids are doing,” he tells me on the phone, his leg propped up on the couch after snapping his ankle last week trying to huge-ify his airs.

Didn’t Socrates say that knowing oneself is the beginning of wisdom?

But Joaquim’s self-awareness is paying off. The 19-year-old from Ericeira, Portugal is making a name for himself. He just won a national competition on the Liga MEO (Portugal’s national surfing circuit), he’s competing simultaneously on both the WSL’s Junior and Qualifying series, and, most importantly in today’s surf economy, Joaquim has landed sponsorships with companies like Billabong and Monster.

Despite Joaquim’s self-effacement, he does do good airs. And this proclivity for acrobatics comes from an unusual source in our sphere — gymnastics.

“I started doing gymnastics when I was eight years old,” Joaquim says. “I got very serious with it and started doing well in competitions. But then my parents introduced me to surfing and my passions just changed. Being on the beach all day is better than being in a gym [laughs]. But I feel like gymnastics gives me an advantage in terms of space awareness and landings.”

In the edit, Joaquim puts himself in a tight pink tutu and twirls around — like a salty, Portuguese Harry Styles or something. I needed to know if the ballet thing was fact or fiction.

“Well, the title of the video is ‘Dreams’. I wanted two real dreams and one fake one. The ballet was the fake one [laughs]. I began to get bored of all the ideas for this video and I wanted something funny like this. Nowadays you gotta do something different for people to watch it. No one is expecting a twerk, or naked guy dancing, or ballet. I’m just not ashamed of doing those things.”

Your move, Ballet Grip Co.

Joaquim’s willingness to take risks on camera — whether in the water or in spandex — is a testament to his dedication to surfing and his business acumen. You need both these days.

“Maybe us Europeans have to work a little harder to make it in surfing,” he says. “My coach Richard always says us Europeans make it later than the guys from Australia or California. It’s a phenomenon. But with work we can do it.”

Maybe knowing you’re not the greatest is the key to actually becoming great. Surfing’s lack of a finish line in terms of skill acquisition keeps us tied to it. Kelly Slater said recently that he hasn’t yet done his best surfing.

And at 19, with the capacity to metaphorically and literally don a tutu, Joaquim is on track to achieving what he calls “dreams”.


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