One of the wonders of this new age of internet and facebook is when some incredible things can be shared.
Forget the political rants or the virtual chain letters or guilt demands to prove you are a believe in whatever. I am talking about the fun and glorious.
One of my friends (you know her as Pastor Lori) shared this wonderful montage someone who put together of dance routines from the golden era of Hollywood set to Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as each segment of dance fits their portion of music perfectly.
Of course, we can pick out Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers easily. They always made dance look so simple and elegant as did Cyd Charisse. Then there is Gene Kelly dancing with Astaire, a mouse, and his partners from Singin’ In The Rain – Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Conner. There are moments when Shirley Temple is dancing with Bill Robinson and James Cagney taps his way down the stairs from the bio pic of George M. Cohen.
But the most incredible bit of dancing comes from the Nicholas Brothers who leap frog over each other as they are going down stairs, landing in full splits before sliding up to a standing position. This particular dance segment comes from the movie Stormy Weather (1943) starring Lena Horne and Bill Robinson as two performers who fall in love and promise to stay in touch. But as their stars rise, the pair lose contact until one day Robinson tries once more.
It is in this movie that we hear Horne sing the beautiful title song but other artists of the era are featured as well. People such as Fats Waller (who died only a few months later), Mae Johnson, Cab Calloway, and the Nicholas Brothers – Fayard and Harold.
While not classically trained, Fayard learned dance moves from every vaudeville dance act he met while his parents performed on the circuit. Fayard then taught everything he knew to Harold. As young boys, they performed at the Cotton Club in Harlem. It was here that they met Sam Goldwyn who invited them to Hollywood and had them perform in several movies.
During their early years, the brothers met George Balanchine who taught them more moves for their act. The Nicholas Brothers were also interested in adding acrobatic moves to their routines which is what we see in that final dance routine of Stormy Weather.
Astaire and Kelly called that scene the best dancing they have ever seen. Mikhail Baryshnikov said they were the ‘most amazing dancers’ he had ever seen while Gregory Hines stated that no one today can do the moves that these men perform. He believed it would require wires that are used in today’s martial art movies.
I don’t know if that is true or not. I do know that there is nothing like a great musical to lighten the heart, to remind us that joy is nearby in doing what you love most. While there are fewer musicals in these days, I would still love to see someone successfully attempt what the Nicholas Brothers used to do so easily.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.
And now some wonderful dancing…