For as long as she can remember, Brooklyn-born dancer and choreographer Shelby Felton aka Shellz/ Suzie Q has felt a soul deep connection to movement and dance. Hemmed in by circumstances, Shellz in her early years was self taught, tapping into YouTube videos to further her dance moves and flexibility. High school proved to be a turning point when she began to make moves with New York’s street dance community and found a mentor in Storyboard P.
Shellz was one of the few women tapped for “FLEXN,” a widely-praised dance performance held at Manhattan’s Armory in 2015, which was organized by Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray, the D.R.E.A.M. (Dance Rules Everything Around Me) dancers and theater director Peter Sellars. She was also a part of Rihanna’s much loved 2016 Dancehall-themed performance at MTV’s Video Music Award show in 2016.
We recently chatted with Felton about her growing dance career, style and more. Check our exchange below.
Snobette: How did your love of dancing manifest itself?
Shellz: “For as long as I can remember, I was great at double dutch, was in step teams and always loved movement. I remember for my 14th birthday when my mom threw me a party, all my friends were dancing and I realized my moves were off. Somehow I felt like I needed to move differently, to flow better with the music. After that, I spent the whole summer practicing dance moves, creating new ones.”
Snobette: How did you train to become a better dancer?
Shellz: “Growing up in East New York and Brownsville, it was not safe being out too late so it was hard to go to the big dance parties and observe. We did not have the means for me to take formal dance classes either, but it’s easy for me to pick up choreography so I was inspired by the show ” Flex in Brooklyn” on BCAT tv and also with YouTube videos. I’m also hyper-mobile/double jointed so I was able to learn yoga and contortion from watching videos as well. By the time I started high school I’d met people from the Flex dance community notably Storyboard P who became my mentor.”
Snobette: What was your experience being in the dance community?
Shellz: “A turning point in my dancing was when I won a dance battle against Crybaby of Harlem in 2008. He’s known as one of the best Lightfeet dancers and at the time I was supposed to battle another female who never showed. I was terrified but I pushed through and in the end I won.”
Shellz versus Crybaby: 2008 (03:25)
“In 2014, I became part of the D.R.E.A.M. crew with Reggie Roc and was one of only few females in the [“FLEXN”] Armory show. We had rehearsals with Peter Sellars where we learned concepts and ideas to express ourselves through dancing and to some degree that took us to the next level. Many of us including myself, dealt with issues we rarely talk about that we’re able to express in our dancing and that was powerful.
Snobette: On the style tip what informs your outfit choices for dance battles, teaching etc?
Shellz: “One of my biggest inspiration for fashion is a movie called Tank Girl, a mix of punk and sci-fi. I also love comic characters like Storm and Mystique. Yes I’ve gone to Comic-Con! I was in heaven there! Clothing wise, I’m currently obsessed with One Piece, G-star, everything Fenty. For shoes, mostly high top Nike and Adidas. I got my first pair of low tops recently.”