- Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 16:04
- Written by Kay Bolden
- Category: Living News
Chicago native and founding member of the legendary dance troupe, the Lockers, Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones has shared a stage with such notables as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler and Bill Cosby. He stars in feature films, choreographs for the Academy Awards, and teaches master dance classes all over the world.
But for Shabba-Doo, it all began with Soul Train. After winning a dance contest, he was invited to join the show in the 1970’s as one of the original dancers. “Soul Train came at a time when our voices, the voices of young, black people, needed to be heard. Soul Train ignited a fuse to a culture that was lurking just beneath the surface of society.”
The show became his launching pad for a career that would bring his unique style of street dance to a global audience. In the 1984 groundbreaking films “Breakin’” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo”, his alter ego Ozone would speak – and dance – for a generation of youth who felt disenfranchised from society at large.
Today, he uses those experiences to teach dance Shway Style 3D – Shabba-Doo’s Way. “When I teach,” he says, “my goal is to reconcile science and spirituality. In Shway Style, there are three levels: spiritual, emotional and practical. Students often want me to teach them to dance like me,” he laughs. “I tell them, no, you’re going to learn to dance like YOU.”
Quinones himself grew up on the streets of Chicago. His Puerto Rican and African roots often left him feeling like an outsider. He credits his mother – and his love of dance – for saving him from a life on welfare. “My desire to escape, to be successful – it fueled my work from the very beginning,” he says.
“I try to help all my students find their own rocket fuel,” he says. “To dance, to create, to perform, you have to find a way to channel your emotions, to redirect all pain in your life, and create something new. Create a new connection with yourself and with your audience.” He laughs again softly. “That’s the only way I perform – I have to feel that connection.”
As Soul Train celebrates its 40th anniversary, Shabba-Doo remembers its impact, not just on American culture, but on his life. “I wouldn’t be here without Soul Train,” he says.
Rare photos and video footage of Shabba-Doo from the Soul Train archives are currently on display at the Soul Train Exhibit, Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph, Chicago.