Rosie Perez on Soul Train TIM CARMODY · SEP 14 2015
At 19 (so, around 1983 or 1984) Rosie Perez moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles to help a cousin with her children and go to college for biochemistry. Then she was recruited to be a dancer on Soul Train.
In her line dance solos, you can see early versions of many of the moves that would be immortalized in the opening credits of Do the Right Thing.
You also see a lot of what Perez calls "face dancing." "Face dance means you don't know what the hell the rest of your body was doing but your face is fierce. That's face dancing."
According to this Esquire article, Don Cornelius was dead set on packaging Perez as part of a girl group of hip-hop/R&B dancer-singers. Perez was uncertain and wouldn't sign the contract. This led to a confrontation where Cornelius grabbed Perez, and in response, she threw a box of chicken at him.
That fight ended Perez's time on Soul Train, but she soon had jobs choreographing Bobby Brown, The Fly Girls on In Living Color, and more. Arguably nobody did more to bring hip-hop dance to mainstream attention than Rosie Perez.