Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | March 2, 2011

A Talk with The Chozin One

Talking with the “Chozin One”

Interviewer: Jelani Whitehorne
Interviewee: Levell Franklin, background dancer to the stars

Young dancers aim to display their talents on a big platform such as television and even sharing the stage with superstars like Beyonce. Introducing Levell Franklin, also known as Chozin, who has been in the entertainment industry since childhood doing acting gigs for shows like “Sesame Street”. Born in New York, he grew up in the Marcus Garvey projects but exposed himself to a lot of activities to keep him occupied and away from trouble.  He sang, rapped, danced and also acted throughout grade and high school prior to attending New York Technical College. After his first semester he gained recognition for his talents and  eventually shared the stage with Beyonce for the VMAs in 2003 as a backup dancer. This opportunity helped him get job offers in LA to take his talents to the professional level. Confused on what he should do, he found a bible verse that said “For many are called, but few are chosen (Mathew 22;14).” With that verse on his mind, he went to LA and began the long road to his dreams as he danced for artists like Destiny’s Child, Ashanti, Mario and Christina Milian. Using the nickname “Chozin” from the bible scripture, he also went into choreography as he became known for his work with platinum superstar Chris Brown.
Calling from New York, Chozin takes time out of his schedule to reflect and let the readers of DAS Chicago know how it feels to not only be a dancer but a triple threat in the entertainment industry.

Levell “Chozin” Franklin
Q: What’s going on Chozin, how are you?

A: I’m very well thanks but nothing too much. I’m just maintaining.

Q: At what age did you know that you wanted to be a dancer?

A: Honestly, dancing was just a gateway for me to do something positive and break into the entertainment industry. Dancing was something I did in my neighborhood that helped me see the world and other parts of life. As I became older and better with my craft, I started to study different parts of dance to master and be a complete force.

Q: You started to really get into dancing professionally when you were in college at New York Technical College in the early 2000’s. You would then share the stage with Beyonce in 2003 for a VMA performance. How crazy of an experience was that?

A: It was a surreal experience. I was a dancer from the hood that was now doing something surreal. I was taken aback actually, kind of taken aback now when I think about it. At that time, 18 years old going on 19, I had to make a big decision as well, which was moving to Los Angeles.

Q: How did moving to Los Angeles help your career?

A: Moving to Los Angeles helped my career because it helped me get into the game. Los Angeles was a land of opportunity because I was actually discovered as a model before a dancer. Even though I still model, I consider myself an entertainer.

Q: OK, so let’s get into how you worked with Chris Brown. How did you guys meet?

A: I actually knew him before he blew up. I met him just as he was starting his career and he told me that he was a music artist, which I didn’t believe at the time. I went on tour with Destiny’s Child and came back to find out that he was having auditions for “Run It”, his debut single. I saw him, he saw me and we just automatically clicked afterwards.

Check out Chozin dancing with Chris Brown in the Excuse Me Music video

 

Q: So you have been very important asset to Chris then?

A: Yes sir, I was there from the beginning and grew to become his assistant choreographer and even did a lot of the choreography for his tours as well.

Q: How does it feel to be on tour as a dancer? How do you deal with the traveling and the hectic lifestyle that comes with it?

A: You get used to being on the road. The travel and the shows will be stressful at first and you will miss your friends, but then it will become an everyday life to you.  Once that happens, you will adjust not only as a dancer but as a person. You will know the schedule as you go through the tour.

Q: So with that being said, tours can be stressful on the body and the mind as well. What is a main stress reliever for you as a dancer that helps you clear your mind?

A: In the past, I had other means which I grew out of  but I learned to do other positive things. I used to always write a lot to get my mind clear when I really needed to think. Women were always a distraction but then also helped some ways too as a stress reliever, but everyone has their own way of stress relieving.

What do you recommend other than just writing to help relieve stress as a dancer?

A: Well doing Meditation is very good, and also prayer helps as well to keep your mind clear and focused on where you need to be.

Q: OK great! We have touched on the subject of what you have done in the past but what have you done recently?

A: I have worked with Usher and a couple of groups like New Kids on the Block. I’m also teaching others who would like to become professional dancers. I have also worked on other ventures outside of dancing as well.

Q: What is one major challenge that you dealt with as you were mastering your craft as a dancer?

Just humbling myself. I call them “Bottom of the totem pole” things. Dancing is a very competitive sport where you need to have dedication and hard work involved definitely. Also I had to learn that even the audition is an art itself. Learning the game from not only what happens on stage, but even off as well, was a challenge. I say to future dancers out there if they were really about being a dancer, they have to be unique.

Q: What’s next for you?

I am thinking about really jumping into the modeling industry, since that was how I was discovered. I also want to be signed as a singer and an actor as well. I have a show that I am acting in New York that is in March as well. I am willing to showcase my talents for the world to see.

Q: What do you want to tell other aspiring dancers that want to be in your shoes?

First, don’t consider yourself background, you have to know what you want. Dancing is like a language, the more type of dance you know, the better. Diversity is definitely a big thing when it comes to dance. You should be able to do every style. The person with different styles will be the one that will have the most beneficial career.

Q: I appreciate you taking time out to answer these questions! Thanks again, Chozin

No Problem.

Want to see more videos of Chozin and even some of the other dancers? Take a look at how Chozin and some of the background singers with Chris Brown as a means of how they relieved some stress from footage of the Up Close and Personal Tour in 2007 or also known as the “Too Close and Sensual Tour”:

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