Wayne Frost, a hip-hop pioneer known as Frosty Freeze whose acrobatic performance with the legendary Rock Steady Crew in the hit 1983 movie "Flashdance" set off a worldwide break-dancing craze, died Thursday. He was 44.
Frost died at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York after a long illness, said Jorge "Fabel" Pabon, a senior vice president of the crew in which Frost and other so-called B-boys (for beat or break boys) made their name performing complicated and daring dance routines.
"He was one of the most charismatic B-boys that ever lived," said Benson Lee, director of the new documentary film "Planet B-boy."
Break dancing emerged from the Bronx and Harlem in the early 1970s, part of the hip-hop culture that also included graffiti, emceeing or rapping, and disc jockeys scratching and mixing vinyl records on turntables.
During breaks in the music, B-boys would mimic James Brown's showmanship and footwork and Bruce Lee's martial arts, adding their own signature moves.
Frost was known for his energetic style, intricate choreography and fearless moves, including back flips and head spins. One was dubbed the Suicide.
Frost got his start in 1978 with the Bronx-based Rock City Crew. In 1981, he became part of the Rock Steady Crew, joining such acclaimed break dancers as Ken Swift and Crazy Legs.
Frost toured the world with the Rock Steady Crew and other hip-hop artists, including Fab 5 Freddy, Futura 2000 and Kool Lady Blue.
Frost's appearance with Rock Steady Crew in the film "Flashdance" spread the break dance phenomenon globally, said Joseph Schloss, a visiting scholar in New York University's music department.
"He was one of the first B-boys that most people ever saw," Schloss said.
As a Rock Steady Crew member, Frost appeared in several movies, including "Wild Style," "Beat Street" and "Style Wars."