Most dance routines are practiced countless times before they’re performed, but the legendary Nicholas Brothers could dazzle audiences on the first take. A clip from the movie Stormy Weather (1943)—featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra performing Jumpin Jive—captures Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000) Nicholas jumping into tap-dancing action to perform an incredible routine that was completely unrehearsed and recorded in one take.
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 their 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.
This clip from the movie Stormy Weather (1943) captures the legendary Nicholas Brothers performing an incredible dance routine that was completely unrehearsed and recorded in one take.