Fayard Nicholas, (left) who with his brother Harold wowed the world with their incredibly athletic and original form of rhythmic tap dancing, and inspired generations of dancers, from Fred Astaire to Mikael Barishnikov to Savion Glover, has died from the complications of a stroke suffered in November. He was 91.
“My dad put Heaven on hold and now they can begin the show,” the his son, Tony Nicholas told Associated Press.
The Nicholas Brothers are famous for astounding moves like each one jumping over the other’s heads and landing in a split, step after step, down a flight of stairs. 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.”
The Sad Back Story
None of the dozens of obits already proliferating on Google News mention the wonderful fund-raising tribute given on Sunday in New York to help pay Nicholas’ overwhelming medical bills.
The sad back story is that 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.
Looking at rap, the talent and charm of which elude me, it’s clear that progress has been made by some black performers.
Rest in peace Mr Nicholas, and all the best to his wife, who survives him.
Please send donations to the Fayard Nicholas Emergency Fund to help his wife, Katherine.
Ed Young, Planet Flamenco (scroll down, right side)
It’s great for you to inform us about this so his family can get the help they need to help cover the expenses. It’s a shame there aren’t funds out there for legends such as he was and will be always be remembered.
in case you were wondering, fayard stopped doing those splits because they hurt so much. so he was human after all, despite all appearances on stage to the contrary. though diminutive in stature, he was an artistic giant, and all dancers are in his debt. thanks for the memories, fayard!
Thanks for the information and your insightful comments BL. Of course, lots of entertainers have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen, but nothing as systematic as with black performers.
I don’t think the jury is yet out on rap artists (I can see the talent–just–but the charm of it eludes me, too); we have yet to see the state any of them is in at ninety-one. But I digress….
RIP Mr Nicholas–save me a dance!