Fred Astaire said this was "‘the greatest dancing he had ever seen on film"


Originally published at:


Last summer I decided to do an experiment to see how difficult this really is. I took my shoes off so I was just wearing socks, then got as close to the splits as I could. Once I was down there, I tried to stand up by sliding my feet back together like they do in the video.

It’s really difficult. I’m still down here. Please send help.


Ermagod! That I didn’t know. Wow.


…stratosphere of elation.

That about captures it. What an awesome physical expression of skillful exuberance!


Watch it again and focus on their heads. It’s amazing how centered they stay as they dance. It’s like mogul skiing. And then they throw big smiles out in front of it all like it’s no big deal. Awesome.


The jump from the piano to the floor is nothing less than completely amazing, Righteous!


I’m not a student of dance, but, that is pretty damn amazing.


I’d only ever heard the Joe Jackson recording of this song. It’s …okay.


Had the pleasure of meeting Fayard at the Banff TV Festival back in the 90’s (can’t remember what year). Incredible energy and charisma, a real gentleman. And this sequence - holy fuck - it doesn’t get better than that.


Oh, now check out Eleanor Powell. The tap dancer even the Nicolas Brothers had the greatest respect for and who Fred Astaire found intimidating to dance with. Personally I think she’s was the best tap dancer that’s ever lived. And many other tap dancers agree.

And here she is in a famous scene with Fred Astaire. It is still one of the highlights in the history of tap dance.


Shit. With that band behind ya, well…even the worstest dancer would get a bit better. As for the best dancers? To tha moon!


i said the same thing. mind blowing. no wonder astaire lauded them.



Even before checking, I knew if had to be the Nicholas Brothers, they being contemporary with FA! They were the best. Those staircase splits gotta hurt!


Wow, those guys had timing, rhythm and grace in a way that almost none of us are blessed with.

Gravity. flexibility, anatomy, those are just details!


About one take/no rehearsals: Notice the ten cuts in that sequence? Then there’s the usual practice of filming to a pre-recorded music track, which allows precise camera-dancer synchronization–and, if necessary, retakes.

It’s not taking anything away from the Nicholas Brothers to say that this routine was almost certainly not shot in a single, unrehearsed take. Unless, of course, the scene was set up with multiple cameras–and even then, the positioning of the cameras would require knowledge of what part of the set the dancers would be moving to, which suggests at least some planning. (And while I don’t have time for a deep research dive, I suspect that I would find that this big sequence is made up from pieces of the Brothers’ repertory of moves and routines.)

However, Fayard did tell an interviewer that the finale–each jumping over the other’s head down the staircase–was done in a single take.

This one-take/no-rehearsal factoid, by the way, seems to originate with a year-2000 book review of Constance Valis Hill’s Brotherhood in Rhythm, and it shows up all over the internet.


I would imagine that it was only one take jumping over each other down the stairs because after that they had to force their hips back in their sockets and have someone suck their balls back out of their body. Those are hard landings.


Gene Kelly had to fight to get them into “The Pirate” so they had the respect of the two biggest WHITE dancing stars of their times.

I had the good fortune to see the Nicholas Brothers at Harvard Film Archive once upon a time. They spoke, took questions, and even danced a little bit. This was back in the 1990s and I’m sure they both had had hip replacements or knee replacements by that time. Still incomparably elegant and graceful even at that late date.


Since we’re (sort of) on the subject, here’s what may be the first performance (captured on film) of The Moon Walk (courtesy of Bill Baily; starts at ~2 minute mark.


It’s simply a joy to watch.