Thursday, January 26, 2006

Goodbye Fayard

| by TFLS | 4:18 AM |

One of the greatest dancers of all time has died. Fayard Nicholas, half of the acclaimed Nicholas Brothers has finally joined his brother Harold in heaven. Such an incalculable loss – when I heard the news I cried. Now, when they do get around to filming that story, there will be no one left to tell exactly how it was. You don’t know The Nicholas Brothers? Not your fault – the blame lies with white obsessed movie aficionados. The Nicholas Brothers have been all but ignored whenever the greats of dance are lionized. Astaire, Kelly – Fayard Nicholas. He belongs right up there – first, in fact. He was choreographer and dancer, gymnast and artist.

Whatever innovation you can think of – Fayard Nicholas did it first. Dance-off’s? Done – with The Berry Brothers at The Cotton Club. Dancer vs. Musical instrument? Yup – 1940, Down Argentine Way. Moonwalking? Did that first too – where do you think Michael Jackson got the idea? Flash and control. Quicksilver with legs – that’s what Fayard Nicholas was. The late, great Gregory Hines once said that in any film of The Nicholas Brothers lives, the dances would have to be computer generated - because no one could possibly duplicate them. They were electrifying dancers – athletes first; but with a subtle artistry that was sheer genius. Harold always deferred to his older brother – he was a poet, the younger Nicholas said – talking to you with his hands and feet. Yet this magician, this brilliant, beautiful man was only gifted with two major awards before the end of his life. He won a Tony for his choreography of the musical Black & Blue, and he and his brother were granted Kennedy Center Honors before Harold died in 2000.

I could catalog the signature moves for you – no-hands splits, that even Balanchine praised as beyond balletic perfection; Astaire likened their gravity defying ‘Stormy Weather’ number to “tap-dancing with the fearless exuberance of children stone-hopping across a pond”. All you have to do is look at the unbridled joy on Fayard’s face to see it was true. God – what a loss! And no mention of his death anywhere. Where are the hour specials, the career retrospectives, the marching bands? Well – I remember you, Mr. Fayard Nicholas – I remember you and your brother, and I thank you for the countless hours of entertainment you brought me. And if anyone else out there is curious – rent Stormy Weather or Down Argentine Way and allow yourself to be amazed.

God bless you, and keep you safe, Mr. Nicholas. Both you and your brother.

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