When we commentate on Hip Hip and Street Culture online, it seems Breakdance is very often overlooked, Wayne "FROSTY FREEZE" Frost was a true pioneer within the culture and deserves high mention on this day when he unfortunately leaves us. Dante Ross reports on the NY Times story on the life of the dancer and icon.
Wayne Frost, a hip-hop pioneer known as Frosty Freeze who helped inspire a worldwide break-dancing craze in the early 1980s as a member of the influential group Rock Steady Crew, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 44.
Jorge Pabon, who uses the name Pop Master Fabel and is the vice president of the group, confirmed Mr. Frost’s death, at Mount Sinai Medical Center, saying it followed a long illness, which he did not identify.
Mr. Frost was known for his acrobatic and daredevil moves. One that he created involved a flip in the air that ended with Mr. Frost flat on his back. He called it the Suicide.
Mr. Frost began attracting wide attention in 1981, when his picture appeared on the cover of The Village Voice with an article by Sally Banes titled “Physical Graffiti: Breaking Is Hard to Do.”
He was then featured in early hip-hop music videos, including Malcolm McLaren’s "Buffalo Gals," and performed in films about hip-hop culture, including the groundbreaking 1983 documentary “Style Wars” and the 1983 feature film “Wild Style.” But it was his appearance in the 1983 hit movie “Flashdance,” with Jennifer Beals, that brought him recognition around the world and helped introduce break dancing to mainstream popular culture.
At the time, break dancing, or b-boying, a daring and complex dance form that grew out of the streets of the Bronx and Harlem in the 1970s, was one element of the emerging hip-hop culture, which included graffiti art, rapping and D.J.s scratching and mixing vinyl records on turntables.
Break dancing had its own terminology and was composed of two basic elements: top rock, involving upper-body movement, and floor rock, involving footwork. A b-boy dance phrase finishes with a freeze, hence the name that Mr. Frost adopted.
“He was not only an amazing dancer but a daredevil,” Mr. Pabon said in an interview Thursday. “The moves he did were really super high-risk. He had these signature moves and swagger, this really classy b-boy swagger, that made him extremely unique.”
In 1983 The New York Times wrote of him: “Frosty (Wayne Frost, when not dancing) is well-known in the world of break dancing, the current preoccupation in New York’s discothèques and clubs. He is lean-faced and limber, with a wisp of a beard. Had he been born two generations earlier, he might have been the king of boogie-woogie, or a jitterbug virtuoso.”
The Rock Steady Crew was founded in 1977 in the Bronx and gained international attention throughout the ’80s as its members, including Mr. Frost, Mr. Pabon, Crazy Legs, Ken Swift and others, toured and performed. The Crew was honored at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors in 2004 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in July with a reunion and performance.
Mr. Frost also appeared in two more documentaries about hip-hop culture, “The Freshest Kids” (2002) and “5 Sides of a Coin” (2003).
He is survived by a brother and two sisters.
“Frosty was one of the most charismatic b-boys that was ever around,” said Benson Lee, who directed a 2007 documentary about break dancing, “Planet B-Boy,” in which Mr. Frost appeared. “He embodied the purist spirit of b-boying. He had so much fun with it.”