'Breakin'' star and dance pioneer Adolfo 'Shabba-Doo' Quiñones dies at 65: 'The world lost a legend today'

Raechal Shewfelt
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4 min read

Dance pioneer Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quiñones has died at the age of 65.

Musician Toni Basil, who was his close friend and collaborator, broke the sad news Wednesday, which Yahoo Entertainment has independently confirmed. Basil did not disclose his cause of death. Quiñones’s team has not yet responded to Yahoo’s request for comment.

Quiñones and Basil were two of the original members of the Lockers, the influential ’70s dance group that created and popularized the locking style of dance. They performed everywhere from Saturday Night Live to Disneyland to Soul Train.

But Quiñones was perhaps best known for his performances in the hit 1984 dance movie Breakin’ and its sequel, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

In June, the influential dancer was one of a handful of cast members from those movies to reunite and look back on the legacy of the cult classics that have long been loved by audiences, although not so much by critics.

“I didn’t particularly care for Breakin’ 2,” Quiñones said at the virtual event staged by Yahoo Entertainment (watch below). He explained that he felt the story was “going more toward a cartoony point of view.” He also hinted that a third film was in the works. “I’ve been in negotiations with people who can help make the movie,” he said, outlining the basic premise: “In today’s world, the king of street dancing should be a woman, first of all. … We hope to not recapture what we did before, but do something much greater.”

Quiñones was also a respected choreographer who collaborated with and danced alongside the likes of Lionel Richie and Madonna.

He started dancing at a young age “just at parties and things,” he told his hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, in August 1987. “My mom used to throw me out there like a fighting chicken. ‘Go out there and dance for Mom,’ she’s say. And they’d give me a little cup of wine to get me going. That’s how it all started.”

Quiñones explained that he felt like he’d developed into a good dancer by the time he was in his early teens.

“I wasn’t really good at sports or anything, and I wasn’t good at basketball, but I could cut a rug at a dance,” he said. “I could bop, and we used to bop in Chicago back then.”

Earlier this month, when it was announced that breakdancing would become an Olympic sport, Quiñones spoke to Yahoo about his mixed feelings. “Street dance is a personal journey for most of us,” he said. “How are you going to have these judges judge that?”

He said he feared that “what we had to overcome in order to get to this Olympic moment” would be lost, as well as “the flavor, personality and the spontaneity” of breaking. “That’s just another version of gymnastics,” he says, “unless you have the people there who understand and understand very clearly the balance that needs to take place.”

The day before he died, the performer told his social media followers that he was feeling better after having a cold. He also shared his relief after having tested negative for COVID-19.

After Quiñones’s death, his celebrity friends and others paid tribute.

The Estate of Michael Jackson released the following statement: “We are heartbroken by the passing of Adolfo ‘Shabba-Doo’ Quiñones and send our condolences to his family. Shabba-Doo was a genius and innovator who put body and soul into his dance and choreography. Michael worked with him over the course of many years including on the BAD short film and loved and admired him greatly.”

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