The Nicholas Brothers Dance!

Air Date: December 14, 1952

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The Nicholas Brothers Dance!

The Nicholas brothers invented and perfected a dance form that combined classical tap, jazz, acrobatics and amazing athleticism. Mikhail Baryshnikov declared the Nicholas Brothers to be, “the most amazing dancers I have ever seen in my life — ever … Those guys are perfect examples of pure genius.”

From the Internet Archive copy of the December 14, 1952 episode of the Colgate Comedy Hour starring Abbott & Costello.
https://archive.org/details/521214AbbottCostelloMargaretWhiting

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, the Nicholas Brothers, began their careers at the Standard Theater in Philadelphia. Both parents were members of the house band, and the brothers grew up watching vaudeville acts come and go from front row seats.

Neither boy had formal training but were schooled by the many of the greatest African-American entertainers of their time. They performed regionally until 1932, when at the age of 11 and 18 years, they were hired to perform at the Cotton Club in Harlem alongside the likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and tap legend Bill Robinson.

Throughout the thirties and into the forties the Nicholas brothers appeared in many Hollywood shorts, and had featured roles in several major movies. The peak of their film success came in the 1943 all-black film, Stormy Weather. Their performance in that film has been deemed, “the greatest dance number ever filmed” by Fred Astaire.

Although their dance genre is clearly linked to tap, the Nicholas brothers invented and perfected a dance form that combined classical tap, jazz, acrobatics and amazing athleticism. Mikhail Baryshnikov declared the Nicholas Brothers to be, “the most amazing dancers I have ever seen in my life — ever … Those guys are perfect examples of pure genius.”

Additional Resources

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, the Nicholas Brothers, began their careers at the Standard Theater in Philadelphia. Both parents were members of the house band, and the brothers grew up watching vaudeville acts come and go from front row seats.

Neither boy had formal training but were schooled by the many of the greatest African-American entertainers of their time. They performed regionally until 1932, when at the age of 11 and 18 years, they were hired to perform at the Cotton Club in Harlem alongside the likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and tap legend Bill Robinson.

Throughout the thirties and into the forties the Nicholas brothers appeared in many Hollywood shorts, and had featured roles in several major movies. The peak of their film success came in the 1943 all-black film, Stormy Weather. Their performance in that film has been deemed, “the greatest dance number ever filmed” by Fred Astaire.

Although their dance genre is clearly linked to tap, the Nicholas brothers invented and perfected a dance form that combined classical tap, jazz, acrobatics and amazing athleticism. Mikhail Baryshnikov declared the Nicholas Brothers to be, “the most amazing dancers I have ever seen in my life — ever … Those guys are perfect examples of pure genius.”

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