Fayard and Harold Nicholas were two of the greatest tap dancers that ever lived and, as the Nicholas Brothers, a beloved dance team in the history of entertainment. If you’ve never seen a clip of one of their performances, take a look now: The Nicholas Brothers… The greatest dance sequence
What amazing talent and skill! Such joy and beauty and grace in their every move. They’re dazzling, even mesmerizing. What pizzazz!
It makes us curious. How did they develop such incredible skill and excellence? And such talent infused with passion and joy? And how did they maintain this for performance after performance……. and for many decades?
The two brothers grew up together in Philadelphia, the sons of college-educated musicians who played in their own band at the old Standard Theater. As a very young child, Fayard sat in the front row and watched his parents work. He was particularly fascinated by the dancers – especially the tap dancing with acrobatics – including ones such as Alice Whitman and Bill Robinson.
He taught himself how to dance and sing by watching and imitating the entertainers he saw on stage. But, he soon developed his own unique style. He then taught his younger siblings, Dorothy and Harold, and they began to perform for others. When Dorothy decided to opt out of the trio, the pair became known as the Nicholas Brothers.
The brothers became a regular act at the Harlem’s Cotton Club when Fayard was 18 and Harold was 11, and they performed there for 2 years, astonishing their mostly white audiences. They soon became very popular and successful as word spread about their unique style and abilities. At that time, they were the only African-American performers allowed to mingle with the white patrons.
Their signature style was a mixture of tap dance, ballet, and acrobatics often referred to as “flash dancing” or acrobatic dancing. They were best known for their appearances in Hollywood musicals in the 1930s-40s, but performed in movies, nightclubs, Broadway, television and worldwide concert tours for several decades
According to “Who’s Who in Hollywood”, they are considered “… the greatest dance team ever to work in the movies.” What they achieved in their unique style and brilliance in artistry and choreography had never been seen before. It excited and amazed audiences across the world.
The brothers attributed their astonishing success to this piece – their unique style. It reached new limits and new possibilities – never before experienced – and the audience loved it!
The Nicholas Brothers were recognized with Kennedy Center Honors in 1991 for their achievements that spanned over 6 decades. A documentary film, We Sing & We Dance also celebrated their outstanding careers.
The Nicholas Brothers can continue to inspire us today. Not only with their incredible dance moves, but to help us to find our own uniqueness within.
You too have something that no one has ever seen before. What’s that unique ability that exists within and how can you develop it? And then share it out with others with joy, grace, AND PIZZAZZ?
Learning from the Nicholas Brothers, we see it takes practice, diligence, and determination to develop our own unique abilities. And if we do this, we gain confidence and comfort in this area.
It’s within this sacred space, that our being shines and our eyes sparkle. We share our own pizzazz out into the world! That which is Divine that sparkles from within us.