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By B.L. Ochman


This is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable dance routines in history!

Fayard Nicholas, (on the left right in this video) with his brother Harold, wowed the world with their incredibly athletic and original form of rhythmic tap dancing. They and inspired generations of dancers, from Fred Astaire to Mikael Barishnikov to Savion Glover, and Michael Jackson. Fayard died, in 2006, at age 91 — deep in debt from overwhelming medical bills — from the complications of a stroke.

The Nicholas Brothers are famous for astounding moves like the ones in this video. From the 1920s onward, they danced up walls, on top of pianos, and always, they flew into splits and bounded up to tap at breakneck pace.

The night they received Kennedy Center Honors, Fayard Nicholas told AP Radio News that what he loved most was to “dance and sing and be merry.”

Politics isn’t my normal beat but I think the sad back story bears repeating:
Fayard Nicholas and thousands of other talented black performers of his era die penniless even though films, music, and shows in which they performed made millions for their producers and for the white performers who got star billing in them.

Ninety-one is a hell of an age to run out of money because of medical bills, especially for a performer who was loved throughout the world and whose art brought joy to millions of people.

Artists, freelancers and small business owners still face medical bill bankruptcy – even WITH insurance
Right now, millions of Americans face the prospect or the reality of being bankrupted by medical bills – even those of us WITH health insurance. If you want to see why immediate reform is necessary, take a look at the co-insurance, facility charges, lousy prescription plans, and high deductibles offered in 2010 plans, for example, by Freelancers Union to its 210,000 members.

Our representatives in Congress are debating national health insurance and health care reform. As a small business owner, like artists, freelancers, and millions of other Americans, I am faced with Draconian choices in health insurance options. The time for change has come.

Even Americans with health insurance – but particularly artsits, freelancers, and small business owners – could run out of money because of medical bills. Don’t think it can’t happen to you!

Democrats – vote in meaningful health care reform now! We’ve got the votes. Do it!