Tappy New Year! (Get it?)

It’s so crazy thinking that 2014 is almost over. Where did all of the time go?

Can you believe that we are past the midpoint of February, 2015!?!?! Where did all of the time go? As I was looking for something exciting to blog about, I browsed through the video archives of Jacob’s Pillow. It reminded me of an exhibit on dance I saw in 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery entitled Dancing the Dream.

Jumpin Jive Nicholas Brothers

The exhibit included images of choreographers, impresarios, and performers with the purpose of revealing how dance has captured the nation’s culture in motion. “From the late 19th century to today, dance has drawn from the boundless commotion of cultures to represent the rhythm and beat of American life.” It was a combination of portraits and short video clips of various dance routines that served as a chronological journey as well as one through the genres. While all of the videos are not in one place, the Smithsonian has created a website where you can see a selection of the portraits with biographies that were displayed. http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/dance/index.html

In the Lights, Camera, Action room, I was captivated by the Nicholas Brothers tap routine playing on the screen. You can think of the Nicholas Brothers as the original Les Twins if it suits you. The two brothers are famed African-American tap dancers of the Harlem Renaissance. They have their roots in the Cotton Club, where many legendary performers could be found during that time.

The Nicholas Brothers infused tap, ballet and acrobatics for high intensity performances. When they went on a world tour, the brothers met with and learned from famous European ballet companies. Balanchine invited them to appear in the musical “Babe in Arms.” They’ve performed in the company of greats such as Duke Ellington, Bob Hope, Ethel Merman, Gene Kelly and Lena Horne. The brothers once performed for the King of England and nine different U.S. presidents. Revered and complimented by Astaire and Baryshnikov, this dynamic duo commands respect in the performing arts world.

The first dance featured is the iconic Jumping Jive from “Stormy Weather”, an American musical film that has some of the top African-American performers of the time. The second video is from 30 years later when they danced with one of their students, Michael Jackson…


Sources: Biography.com, Nicholas Brothers Online 


2 thoughts on “Tappy New Year! (Get it?)

  1. Spectacular video finds of the Nicholas Brothers! Contemporary American dance and music is such a fascinating mixture of different cultures, it is nice to discover the history that shapes this.

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