Category: Black Dance

A Little Saturday Zydeco

Zydeco is black Creole music that is native to Southwest Louisiana. It originated as a unique and distinct art form after the early 1900s.

Zydeco music is characterized by the use of an accordion as the lead instrument, and occasionally, the use of a metal washboard or “frottoir.” Over the years, zydeco has been influenced by blues and R’n’B music. It remains popular in southern Louisiana and east Texas, but people in other parts of the country, especially young people, might not even know what it is.

Early zydeco made heavy use of French lyrics, but as the use of the language has declined throughout southern Louisiana, new Zydeco music is almost exclusively in English.

Zydeco has developed its own hand-dancing form, and this is a nice video of couple strutting their stuff on the Louisiana Zydeco Live television show:

I also like this zydeco line-dance video:

The music on the above video is from top zydeco band Brian Jack & The Zydeco Gamblers.

The Nicholas Brothers

You can’t get enough of the Nicholas Brothers.

The Philadelphia-bred duo were one of the most famous and well-regarded dance duos of their time. As described by wikipedia,

The Nicholas Brothers were a famous African-American team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold Nicholas (1921–2000). With their highly acrobatic technique (“flash dancing”), high level of artistry and daring innovations, they were considered by many the greatest tap dancers of their day. Growing up surrounded by Vaudeville acts as children, they became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance and went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990’s.

Although the Brothers are perhaps best known for their performance in the movie Stormy Weather (where they tap up and down a huge set of stairs while Cab Calloway’s band plays in the background), the clip below is easily just as awesome, if not more.

It features the Brothers dancing to a Spanish beat, and shows much of the athletic/acrobatic style for which they are celebrated. Harold is the one on the left who does the singing.

These are the Nicholas Brothers, at the height of their powers, from the movie Down Argentine Way (1940):