The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold | Tap Dance Legends

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corpo Copyright: ©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. © Courtesy Photofest.


The Nicholas Brothers: Tap-Dancing Royalty

Revolutionizing Tap: The Enduring Legacy of The Nicholas Brothers

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, better known as “The Nicholas Brothers,” weren’t just tap dancers; they were revolutionary artists who redefined the art form with their virtuosity, athleticism, and infectious energy. From their Vaudeville beginnings to their Hollywood triumphs, they captivated audiences worldwide for over half a century, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.

Early Rhythms and Vaudeville Stages:

Born in Philadelphia to musical parents, the brothers were exposed to rhythm and performance from a young age. Their father, a drummer, and mother, a pianist, nurtured their early love for dance. By their teens, they were mesmerizing audiences with their synchronized tap routines, honing their skills on the vibrant vaudeville circuit.

Broadway Debut and Hollywood Lights:

Their exceptional talent soon caught the attention of prominent figures, leading to their Broadway debut in the 1930s. Hollywood quickly beckoned, and the Nicholas Brothers graced the silver screen with their electrifying routines in numerous films, including “Kid Millions” (1934), “An All-Colored Vaudeville Show” (1935), and “The Big Broadcast of 1936” (1935). Their performances, often the highlight of these films, showcased their unique blend of athleticism, artistry, and infectious enthusiasm.

“Jumpin’ Jive” and Beyond: A Legacy of Innovation:

1943’s “Stormy Weather” solidified their star power with their iconic “Jumpin’ Jive” routine alongside Cab Calloway. This unforgettable scene, featuring synchronized steps, gravity-defying leaps, and infectious energy, remains one of the greatest dance sequences ever filmed.

The Nicholas Brothers weren’t just performers; they were innovators. They pioneered “flash dancing,” characterized by lightning-fast footwork and complex syncopation, and their signature “crab walk” became their iconic trademark. They expanded the expressive range of tap dancing by incorporating elements of ballet and jazz, influencing generations of dancers to come.

Beyond the Silver Screen: A Life on Stage and Collaboration:

Their career stretched far beyond Hollywood. They performed on countless stages, from Broadway and concert halls to nightclubs around the world. They collaborated with legendary figures like Duke Ellington, Lucky Millinder, and Jimmy Lunceford, leaving an undeniable mark on both tap dance and the broader entertainment industry.

Eternal Inspiration: A Legacy that Lives On

The Nicholas Brothers’ legacy lives on in their extensive body of work and the generations of dancers and performers they inspired. Their virtuosity, creativity, and infectious energy continue to captivate audiences worldwide, cementing their status as icons of tap dance and American entertainment.

Remembering a Tap-Dancing Pioneer 

Harold Nicholas, the younger half of the celebrated tap-dancing duo the Nicholas Brothers, died on July 3 at New York Hospital in Manhattan after heart and leg surgery. He was 79 years old.

Fayard Antonio Nicholas (October 20, 1914 – January 24, 2006) was an American choreographer, dancer, and actor.




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