Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers

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9780195131666: Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers

They were two of the most explosive dancers of the twentieth century, dazzling audiences with daredevil splits, slides, and hair-raising flips. But they were also highly sophisticated dancers, refining a centuries-old tradition of percussive dance into the rhythmic brilliance of jazz tap at its zenith. They were Fayard and Harold Nicholas, two American masters masterfully portrayed in this new dual biography by Constance Valis Hill.
In Brotherhood in Rhythm, Hill interweaves an intimate portrait of these great performers with a richly detailed history of jazz music and jazz dance, both bringing their act to life and explaining their significance through a colorful analysis of their eloquent footwork, their full-bodied expressiveness, and their changing style. Hill vividly captures their soaring careers, from Cotton Club appearances with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Jimmie Lunceford, to film-stealing big-screen performances with Chick Webb, Tommy Dorsey, and Glen Miller. Drawing on a deep well of research and endless hours of interviews with the Nicholas brothers themselves, she also documents their struggles against the nets of racism and segregation that constantly enmeshed their careers and denied them the recognition they deserved. And to provide essential background to their career and the development of their art, she also traces the three-hundred-year evolution of jazz tap, showing how it emerged in the Southern colonies in the 1700s, as the Irish jig and West African gioube mutated into the American jig and juba.
More than a biography of two talented but underappreciated performers, Brotherhood in Rhythm offers a profound new understanding of this distinctively American art and its intricate links to the history of jazz.

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About the Author:


Constance Valis Hill is a jazz dancer and choreographer, and a highly respected scholar of performance studies. She has taught at the Alvin Ailey School of American Dance, the Conservatoir D'Arts Dramatique in Paris, and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts; her articles and reviews have appeared in such publications as Dance Magazine, the Village Voice, and Dance Research Journal. She currently teaches, lectures, and writes about jazz, tap, and other forms of American vernacular dance. She lives in Albany, New York.

From Library Journal:

This is a lovingly researched and thoughtfully created portrait of Fayard and Harold Nicholas, whose spectacular dance routines have captivated stage and screen audiences from the Depression era to current times. Hill's infectious admiration will inspire even those not well acquainted with the pair to locate Down Argentine Way or Sun Valley Serenade and enjoy their performances. In his introduction, Gregory Hines praises the one-of-a-kind routines the brothers developed, which included intricate steps, breathtaking splits, and impeccable timing. Their style was outstanding, but so was their highly professional approach to the mercurial world of show business, with its particularly disturbing racial issues. Exceptionally clear and useful descriptions of the elements of early jazz, the evolution of the minstrel show, and the components of various dance forms provide background on the forces influencing the performance world of the time. A natural for dance enthusiasts, this is also essential reading for anyone interested in entertainment history.
-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Constance Valis Hill, Gregory Hines (Introduction)
Editorial: Oxford University Press, USA (2000)
ISBN 10: 0195131665 ISBN 13: 9780195131666
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