Shamell Bell is a mother, community organizer, choreographer and PhD student in Culture and Performance at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance. Shamell received her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and B.A. with Honors in American Studies and Ethnicity, with a specialty in African American Studies, at the University of Southern California. An original member of the #blacklivesmatter movement, she is a core organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles alongside prominent activists Patrisse Cullors and Professor Melina Abdullah. She is also a co-founder of the Black Infinity Complex, a coalition bringing together academics and community members fighting against Black premature death and state-sanctioned violence. Shamell's work on "street dance activism" situates dance as grassroots political action from her perspectives as a scholar, dancer, and choreographer for the Black Lives Matter movement. Shamell’s street dance experience includes featured roles in music videos, award shows, and tours with artists such as Will Smith, Christina Aguilera and Ludacris, and in David LaChapelle's acclaimed documentary "Rize."
Building on her senior thesis, an ethnographic exploration of the Ranger$, a well-known dance crew in LA’s Jerkin' movement, Shamell’s doctoral research examines street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles through a performance studies lens.
Motivated by her passion for justice, Shamell aims to create an ongoing dialogue between street dance, activist and academic communities, highlighting the street dancer's actual presence at academic institutions in the form of dancing, speaking, teaching, and writing. When she is not occupying the police station or leading chants at demonstrations with BLMLA, Shamell can be found playing with her four year old son, Seijani aka “Johnnie,” and even including him in peaceful demonstrations.