Sunday
Feb092014

Great Jazz Intro - Cab Calloway Bill Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather (1943)

This is a must watch! Check out the Jazz and the incredible Flash Act "The Nicholas Brothers". If you have not seen the movie this is a great excerpt and best known clip of this amazing duo! This movie clip with an all star cast of African American dancers, actors and singers starts with a Jazz Routine and finishes with the fabulous, mythical Nicholas Brothers in the movie "Stormy Weather" from 1943.

It was amazingly exciting and hard to find any footage and information in the time I started swing Dancing but in 1984 something happend with the the advent of VHS Video Recorders. Remember there was no youtube and I had just started Swing Dancing and taped every possible musical or obscure movie that might have some african american entertainment and dancing in it for inspiration. Knowing that I was on a mission to eden I would watch the movies I had recorded, mostly late at night, looking for little 30 second jewels of dancing. It was exciting and I could not wait to see the next movie. One morning I looked at a movie called "Down Argentine Way" (remember I had just immigrated from Holland a year earlier in 1983) and half way through the movie these two dancers were Tap Dancing and knocked me of my chair (not my feet)! I started uncontrollably pacing back and forwards in my room. I had found the Holy Grail, Mecca, hit the Jackpot and wanted to scream! They were the Nicholas Brothers, as I looked for them in the credits of the movie. At this time there were only a handfull of young Lindy Hop dancers in the states. I had nobody to share it with. Yes I wanted to announce it to the world! It drove me to find those that were still doing this, the original Masters and learn and share it with the world. Europe has culture and incredable history you can feel, everywhere you go. America has taken its culture for granted but luckely some of it is preserved on film. It is time to treasure our rich cultural heritage right here, in front of our eyes, if we are willing to look. Today it is easier than ever, we have the internet and YouTube. Not only can you be part of it but also benefit from it, as we build a possitive sense of community! We need that more than anything else today.
Reconnect and enjoy. Rob van Haaren.

We had the privilege to work with some of the masters in the last 30 years and we are excited to pass on the knowledge and fun that we enjoy in the Charleston, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, Lindy Hop and VERNACULAR JAZZ. Hope to meet you soon. 

Rob and Diane van Haaren
What we offer and contact info click here.

Wednesday
Feb052014

Nicholas Brothers - Down Argentine Way 1940, and more.

Nicholas Brothers, tap-dancing duo whose suppleness, strength, and fearlessness made them one of the greatest tap dance acts of all time, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). With their highly acrobatic technique ("flash dancing"), 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.(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
They appeared in numorous films starting as kids age 11 and 18. They could not be ignored. Because of racial prejudice, they appeared as guest artists, isolated from the plot, in many of their films this was a strategy used by Americans from the south tha allowed their scenes to be easily deleted from the films. By 1932 they became the featured act at Harlem's Cotton Club, when Harold was 11 and Fayard was 18. They astonished their mainly white audiences dancing to the Jazz tempos of "Bugle Call Rag" and they were the only entertainers in the African American cast allowed to mingle with white patrons. 
I had the pleasure of meeting Fayard in 1986 through Chester Whitmore. I felt humbled and ecstatic in his presence, being able to meet and get to know Fayard an icon in the dance world. We had the privilege of having him as a special Guest teaching and performing at the "International Swing Dance Festival" in Santa Barbara along with Frankie Manning in 1993 and 1994. Fayard and Harrold's impact on the dance community is unmatched. This of course along with the Great Frankie Manning the Ambassador of the Lindy Hop.

Here The Nicholas Brothers in 1941 with Dorothy Dandridge in Sun Valley Serenade" dancing to  Glen Millers "Chatanooga Choo Choo".
Intro into dancing starts at 4:04 minutes into the video!

Here is a GREAT PROGRAM (45 Min) on the amazing life of the Nicholas Brothers "We Sing We Dance" starting at the hight of the "Harlem Renaissance". 
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