Last Man Dancing

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter

Friday, January 03, 2014    

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WHAT would dancehall music be without the dancer? It is hard to imagine considering the impact, flamboyant 'legsmen' like Bogle and Ice had on the genre.

Sheldon 'Shelly Belly' Lewis belongs to that class of inner-city choreographers whose moves bring a different dimension to the dancehall.

Last Saturday, he won the Best Dancer award at Stone Love's 41st anniversary show. For the veteran, the recognition is deserved given his years in the business. He is one of few dancers still around from the era of King Bogle.

He spoke to Splash this week about the decline of his contemporaries.

"Everything is dying out as it has now become about the hype. I hardly see Ding Dong, Timeless Crew, Black Blingas, Dr Bird and Cadillac Dancers on the dance floor anymore," he said. "A lot of dancers just wanted the experience to travel overseas. No one seems to remember how it used to be at dances like Passa Passa and Weddy Weddy. Now, when I go do dance an' si the man dem is jus' bare flossing and modelling," he added.

Lewis, who says he is 29, is determined to stay current in a scene dominated by young turks like the Coolah Squad, Elite Team, Rifikal Team, Bermuda Squad and Above A Dem Squad.

"I create a new dance for every season. I never stop practising as I never know which dance move is going to be a hit," he said. "I also create dances that the females can do an' I dance with dem at sessions, something that isn't very popular anymore in the dancehall."

Shelly Belly emerged in 1999 as a member of the John Hype Squad which was led by the popular John Hype. At the time, Gerald 'Bogle' Levy of the Black Roses Crew ruled the dance floor and inspired a new wave of dancers.

Immortalised in song by Beenie Man (World Dance) and Buju Banton (Bogle), the charismatic Bogle was murdered in 2005.

Ice (David Alexander) was another outstanding dancer. Sprinter Usain Bolt performed his Gully Creeper move after his victories at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ice was murdered that year.

Over the years, Shelly Belly has created dance moves such as the Cowfoot, Nineties Rock, Luggu Luggu, Creep and Di Chain.

He plans to create more in 2014, but also hopes to be more visible locally.

"Jamaica still has not gotten a chance to si mi in full force as I am not getting any stage shows. Dancers like me can add fire to a show, especially between band changes and breaks," he said.





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