Black History 365: I’ll Dance All “M.A.I.” Natural Life - Honoring ‘The Nicholas Brothers’

Greetings and Good Morning! Happy Monday!


I hope that your day is jumping off in a major way! Since, you're in a wonderful mood, let me inspire you some more this morning! This Black History Month, it is important to me to acknowledge the life and legacy of lesser known African-Americans. Although, they do not typically garner the same amount of shine as well as, other well known African-Americans; their accomplishments and contributions throughout history and to our culture and society is just as important and impactful! So, this week I have two great African-American trailblazers, that I feel deserve some shine, and they are, “The Nicholas Brothers!” So, without further delay let’s dive into this week's message!



Anyone who knows me knows that I love to dance, and that I love to watch amazing dancers dance. As a lover of all forms of dance, some of my favorites dancers come from a variety of different styles and genres such as, ballet and belly dance and contemporary and lyrical. So today, I wanted to take a trip back in time and remember the incredible, Nicholas Brothers. Fayard Antonio Nicholas (b. October 20, 1914, Mobile, Alabama, U.S.—d. January 24, 2006, Los Angeles, California) and Harold Lloyd Nicholas (b. March 17, 1921, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.—d. July 3, 2000, New York, New York) better known as, 'The Nicholas Brothers'. The tap dancing duo were were beautiful dancers, with incredible "elegance and sensational showmanship". In terms of dance, I don't believe they get highlighted enough, much like the "Lindy Hop" dancers of the 1920's and 1930's. Many fans of the hit 90's movie, "The Five Heartbeats" will likely recall seeing Harold Nicholas play the outspoken, smoking, choreographer, "Sarge". With that said, their appearances in Hollywood movies spans, more than six decades, and their movie credits include, "Pie Pie Blackbird", "Stormy Weather", and "The Great American Broadcast" to name a few.


Fayard and Harold Nicholas were the handsome sons of college educated musicians, their mother, Viola, was a classically trained pianist and father, Ulysses played drums. They grew up in Philadelphia and was exposed to the greatest musicians, such as, Louis Armstrong, and other great black Vaudeville acts of their time. The dancers that were influential in their development were, Alice Whitman and Willie Bryant. At a young age, after gaining a name for themselves in Philadelphia, they began opening at the Cotton Club in 1932 performing for two years, with their unique dance style mixed with tap and acrobatics working with the orchestras of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. The brothers had a very successful career in the U.S. and in Europe traveling and performing. As well as, appearing frequently in major motion Hollywood pictures with some of the hottest actors and actresses of their day, such as, Josephine Baker, Gracie Allen, and Dorothy Dandrige.


One of my favorite eras in history and time is "The Harlem Renaissance", and they are very much a part of that time period. These men are a wonderful representation of Black Excellence! Dazzling audiences for six decades, with their electrifying tap dancing skills carrying themselves with a sense of confidence and style. They were fiercely original, bold, and daring rising, above much of the racism and many of the stereotypes at that time. Dispelling the notion of being undervalued, underestimated, and marginalized, as my favorite talk radio show host, Joe Madison would say of how many African-Americans are often treated. If you've never heard of The Nicholas Brothers, I hope that I've sparked your interest to go find out more about them. Their lives and legacy is a very interesting one to research and I encourage you to learn more about them.


As I close, I hope that you've enjoyed this week's Black History Trailblazers and taking a trip back in time. The Nicholas Brothers offers us a reason to be proud of our, the African-American culture by inspiring and motivating us remember that we can really do anything. Despite racism and all of the adversities that African-Americans endured during their peak, they "created a lane" for themselves! It's something to be said about that. I've always heard, "the cream rises to the top!" Well, The Nicholas Brothers were definitely the "cream of the crop", and so many other African-Americans. This legacy continues and we see our people making history every single day. 'We are not new to this, we are true to this"; and making away out of no way is what we do! Trailblazers is who we are as a people! So stay tuned, next week, I'll have another great "lesser known" African-American or fact in history that deserves to be honored and doted on. We still can give them their flowers and praise in heaven! Check out The Nicholas Brothers performance below, in the movie 'Stormy Weather', and Enjoy!


Fun Facts:

  1. Fayard Nicholas shares my mother's birthday, born on October 20, forty-one years apart.

  2. Harold Nicholas was born in Winston-Salem, N.C. which is a nearby city to my hometown of Greensboro, N.C. Both of these cities, along with High Point, N.C. makes up the Piedmont Triad.

  3. I found it incredibly surprising that Harold and Dorothy Dandrige met in 1938 at the Cotton Club, and married September 6, 1942. They were married for 9 years, and had a daughter named, Harolyn Suzzane Nicholas.


Sources:

  1. http://www.nicholasbrothers.com/index.htm

  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nicholas-Brothers/Television-and-later-work

  3. https://heightline.com/harolyn-suzanne-nicholas-bio-facts/


Charmyra E. Fleming is a romance author with a deep desire to M.OTIVATE | A.SPIRE | I.NSPIRE, her readers and beyond to live their lives with purpose, intention, and full of passion. Thank you for reading her blog post this morning. Hey, do her a favor, if you like or love this post, comment on it. She'd love to hear your feedback. Also, please feel free to share it with your family and friends in the social media universe. Your support is greatly appreciated!

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