Shall We Dance Friday: The Nicholas Brothers in “Jumpin Jive” from Stormy Weather

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The Nicholas Brothers were a famous African- American team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). With their highly acrobatic technique (flash dance), high level of artistry and daring innovations, they were considered by many the greatest tap dancers of their day.

Growing up surrounded by Vaudeville acts as children, they became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance and went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990s.

Fred Astaire once told the brothers that the “Jumpin’ Jive” dance number in Stormy Weather (1943) was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen. In that famous routine, the Nicholas Brothers leapt exuberantly across the orchestra’s music stands and danced on the top of a grand piano in a call and response act with the pianist. The scene ends with their signature move of leapfrogging down a long, broad flight of stairs, while completing each step with a split.

The Nicholas Brothers in “Jumpin Jive” from Stormy Weather

 

 

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