Christopher Gonzalez dances for many of reasons, but mostly to escape.

Until he was 3, he and his mother, who is deaf and suffers from disabilities, lived in a homeless shelter on Staten Island. When he was 6, his father was killed. His aunt – “the rock of the family,” Gonzalez says – died two years later.

At age 19, according to Gonzalez, he was convicted of statutory rape in the second degree, stemming from a relationship that produced a child. He fathered another child with another woman upstate, but is estranged from her and hasn’t seen his son in more than two years.

Now, Gonzalez, 26, is channeling all that strife into his dancing, in the hopes that he can make his mark – and some money. But his past legal issues have left him careful to keep a step ahead of police.