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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v9n40 (10/07/2010) » Five Questions With...

Shemika Charles: Limbo Dancer

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Shemika Charles, an 18-year-old senior from Cardinal O’Hara High School, was recently named the world’s lowest female limbo dancer by Guinness World Records. (How low did she go? 8.5 inches.) She says she couldn’t be happier to be representing Buffalo as a positive role model, whether it’s setting world records or performing in her family band Caribbean Extravaganza.

How does it feel to have the world record for lowest female limbo dancer?

It feels overwhelming. I’m very happy and grateful for everything I’ve been given the opportunity to do, like to actually go on a live show and actually accomplish a record of such a high level. I’m very excited about it. I still can’t believe it. I have so much support from family and friends and that made it a lot easier on me.

Were nervous going on Live! With Regis and Kelly to set the record?

Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. I mean I was so excited, but I wasn’t nervous because I was very confident. I’ve been intense training for about two to three months, so I was pretty confident when I went on the show as far as my performance goes. Regis and Kelly made me feel extremely comfortable because they’re kidding around and they’re really down-to-earth.

What are your family and friends saying about your accomplishments?

I did a performance at my school on September 22 and my friends were like “Oh my gosh, Shemika. How long were you training?” and “We can’t believe that a person like this goes to our school,” and “You’re like a celebrity!” It feels really good and because of my record more young people look up to me, as, you know, “If she can do it, why can’t I?” and that makes me feel good because I started something positive.

Who first got you into limbo dancing?

It was my uncle, Bob Diaz. They needed a limbo dancer to go to the Florida State Fair in 2006. I was 14 going on 15 at the time and I was always flexible and I absolutely loved being on stage. My uncle told my mom to go to the school and to ask if they would give me permission to go for the two weeks, and they said yes. We immediately started training and within six weeks I was going under beer bottles, so it was a really good accomplishment at the time. It wasn’t until a little while after that, that he actually started considering the record. With me being so young it was really hard to concentrate and take it seriously. Of course, now I know the seriousness of it. My uncle stuck with me because, you know, I was really difficult. Of course, I wanted to go out with my friends and he said, “No, do your practice, have your mind together, you are like the only kid that can do this.” He said, “After this you can have all the friends you want and go out,” and it was hard for me to understand, like “Why can’t I have both?” Now, with me going for something this serious it takes so much dedication, you don’t really have time for anything else, so he stuck with me through thick and thin, and because of his consistency with me, I was able to make the record.

How did you train for the record?

We did intense training for two to three months, which meant I was limboing probably three or four times a day. It wasn’t just the stretching and conditioning, of course that was a really big part, but I was getting massages three to four times a week. It was really relaxing and kept my body toned. When you massage it like flushes all the toxins in your body, which really helped me out. My diet was strictly water, a lot of salads and meat for protein.

Bonus: Do you plan on going on to college, and if so, what do you want to pursue?

I plan on majoring in the arts for dancing. I do sing in the band and I play keyboard, so I do a little bit of everything, but my main thing is dancing. I like modern, lyrical, hip-hop and contemporary. I like dance period. I would definitely like to go to school in Buffalo, whether it’s UB or Buffalo State.

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