75 years later…there STILL hasn’t been a dance as impressive!
Almost every dance routine is performed on stage after countless rehearsals. But it turns out one of the best dance routines that were ever filmed was about 75 years ago. And do you know what? It was performed without any rehearsal.
Fred Astaire said it was ‘the greatest dancing he had ever seen on film’. Two brothers were dancing on the set of the movie “Stormy Weather,” which starred Bill Robinson and Lena Horne and was released in 1943. In the movie, two brothers stole the show and performed what dancing and acting great Fred Astaire called “the greatest dancing he had ever seen on film.”
In a dance performance for the ages, the Nicholas Brothers, Fayard (1914–2006), and Harold (1921–2000) dazzled audiences with their acrobatic routine to Cab Calloway’s hit song, Jumpin’ Jive. Not only that, but the routine was unrehearsed and what you see was the first take!
What makes this routine so extraordinary is that it was filmed without the brothers rehearsing it and it was all done in one take. Yes, you read that right. One take. These guys aren’t just good dancers. They were clearly skilled at acrobatics and gymnastics as well, and their dancing was absolutely sophisticated and elegant, even as they did the splits at the same time.
Thankfully, the cameraman was filming when these two brothers began their acrobatic and absolutely stunning routine.
Nicholas Brothers excelled in a variety of techniques, including “flash dancing.” They were widely regarded as the greatest tap dancers of their time, thanks to their high level of artistry and daring innovations.
The performance was from the 1943 musical film, Stormy Weather. In 2001, Stormy Weather was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
The movie itself was honored by the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress because it was considered to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” I wager that it’s all three of those things. On the official movie poster, the Nicholas brothers were listed right along with Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, and Cab Calloway, although they were down there at the bottom.
The pair move in unison, execute intricate rhythm-tap solos, and, at one point, they even catapult themselves over each other’s heads, step by step down a staircase. American dancer, singer, actor, choreographer, and television presenter Fred Astaire said the moment was “the greatest dancing he had ever seen on film.”
Despite Astaire’s high praise and undeniable talent, the Nicholas Brothers didn’t have an easy time in Hollywood. Racial discrimination at the time, unfortunately, caused the demise of their careers. At one point, the director of Stormy Weather, Irving Cummings, wanted to cut away the entire dance scene from the film. Thankfully for us, the footage still lives on, allowing us to celebrate these incredibly talented dancers more than 75 years later.
Watch this incredible routine below.