Raul Chavez Portillo, age 70, died in his home in Denver co on May 7,2022. He was born February 29,1952 in Mazatlan Mexico at age 5 he was given the name of Tlaloc his grandfather, in order to preserve the traditions of his ancestors. He spent his formative years studying and perfecting his knowledge and skills as a Conchero & Aztec Danzante and a curandero.
He was preceded in death by his father Mauro and his mother Maria de Jesus and his sister Maria del Rosario Chavez, all from Mexcio.He is survived by his wife Susan Chavez and his children Maria Chavez, Martin Chavez, Marisela Chavez Blanca Chavez, Savina Chavez, Noe Chavez, Steban Chavez, Maria Marquez and adopted daughter Ruth Salazar. He has many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and huge loving community that looked up to him as the Capitan of Aztec groupo Huitzilopochtli..
Chavez is best know for his contributions in helping young Chicanos in Denver in the 80’s to establish a tradition of Azteca Danza. Having immigrated here in 969 brought with him the traditions of his linage. In 1981 Colorado based Danzantes Los Colorsaztlan , establish an Aztec dance troupe under his family name of Grupo Tlaloc.
Debora Montoya director of Danza Colorsaztlan, who danced with Chavez for several decades said, “ Raul carried the memory of Cuahtemoctzin to save and keep our traditions until our sun would rise again.Raul carried the memory of the Tezcatlipoca, our scholars, our priests, our scientists and mathematicians who left instruction in accordance with Cuahtemoc and they placed our sacred things, customs and rituals and our cultural existence in the hands of the Conchero.
Raul was the memory of the Conchero. He came to us here as a Conchero, he dressed and stepped as a Conchero. He was charged, as was instructed, to place and hide our history culture and philosophies within this forma. The drumbeat/heartbeat he kept was weaved into the music of the Conch, mandolin and guitara. His dance steps were slow, each marked with precision, each movement balanced, smooth and fluid. He carried our history in our songs. All was remembered in this way!
And our Sun did rise again and all things having been preserved. Raul brought forth all that had been saved back to the original tradition and rebirth of the Danza Mexica, the Aztec warrior, who now are charged with protecting and maintaining these same traditions as well as share them. We have our memories in tact, our traditions in tact because of this 530 year continuum that Raul, in our time, brought to fruition here in the Denver community
Raul carried a lineage, generations old. He carried a Capitania from his own ancestors, grandparents and elders in Mexico. Chicanos do not carry the tradition of Capitania. He carried this solely and all of us stand on his shoulders. Tlazocamati Compadre, tlazocamati brother! May we each carry this palabra with the grace, love, humility and kindness that you showed to us! “
Chavez’s grupo Huitzilopochtli’s circle is currently made up of dancers from Mexico and Colorado, along with their families, and those that have been guided to this path. Every year Grupo Huitzilopochtli donates more than 600 volunteer hours to neighborhoods, churches, food banks, and nonprofits. Chavez helped communities from Topeka Kansas to Breckenridge Colorado to MSU Denver and state-wide kick start their own Dia de Los Muertos celebrations many years before the holiday was popular. He believed this holiday was a means to connect all people to their common humanity. Chavez also was a yearly participant for 25 years at the free Aurora Fox Theater Cultural Concerts series, where made his last performance on May 4th for the Colorado Folk Arts Council.
Chavez guided Grupo Huitzilopochtli on a journey to enrich the lives of thousands of Mexican/Chicano youth and their families, as they struggled to connect to their cultural roots. Chavez always maintained an open-door policy, welcoming all who wished to join his troupe, regardless of their ancestry. He recognized the indigenous heritage of all people and he embraced diversity while striving to instill community stewardship and tolerance.
In 2012 Chavez was honored by the Auraria campus Latinx Leadership Summit for his lifetime contributions here in Colorado. In 2013 Chavez was the Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Committee of Denver, Male Leadership recipient.In 2016 the Denver’s Mayors Awards for Excellence in the Arts honored Chavez’s’ group Huitzilopochtli with the 2016 ARTS & CULTURE IMPACT AWARD. He was instrumental in bridging the gap between Mexican youth and Chicano/Colorado youth, demonstrating for the past 40 years how the arts can heal through cultural inclusivity and respect for one another.
Recently Chavez, after years of searching for a permanent home to practice, relocated his dance troupe to Lakewood United Methodist Church in the 40 West Arts Dist. He followed long-time partners Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, Fiesta Colorado, and the Pirate Art Gallery here to help establish a Latinx presence in the neighborhood.
He leaves behind a legacy of compassion, inclusivity, and kindness. His services take place on Thurs. May 19th and are open to the public.
Raul Chavez Celebration of Life May 19, 2022
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A Go Fund Me has been established to help with funeral cost
Raul Chavez Memorial Fund