The following is a note from our Communications and Visitor Engagement Intern, Laquanda Fields.
As an intern in the Communications Department at George Eastman House, I helped promote an exciting event at the Dryden Theatre. Famed film programmer Bruce Goldstein of the Film Forum presented the films of dance duo Nicholas Brothers, who were popular on the silver screen in the 1930s through 1950s. The program promised screenings of film clips, home movies, interviews, and the sharing of personal stories.
To attend, I truly considered hiring a sitter for my daughters, Jaela, age 6, and Samariyah, age 4. I was concerned that maybe the Nicholas Brothers clips wouldn’t be enough to entertain children of their age, but I decided to take them anyway.
From the moment the lights dimmed and the first Nicholas Brothers clip was revealed, my daughters’ eyes were glued to the screen. And for the next 60 minutes, there was no mention of the bathroom or being thirsty or any other request that we parents know oh too well when our children are bored.
Jaela and Samariyah followed every split, every jump, every foot tap and I was amazed at how intrigued these two were with a film that wasn’t created by Disney. I looked at my girls watching the film and I thought, “How great is this, what a wonderful experience for me to share with them.”
For myself, the experience was more meaningful. While researching the Nicholas Brothers, I learned how important they were to Black history — history in general, actually. I thought about how the people of our generation credit icons like Michael Jackson for today’s dance talent, but it goes without saying that the Nicholas Brothers are owed that same credit if not more. They are true dance legends and in some ways a hidden talent. It’s all about the experience. Not enough can be said about how brilliant the Nicholas Brothers were.
The only thing more interesting than watching the Nicholas Brothers on film was watching their home movies and their interviews that Bruce Goldstein conducted himself right in his own living room. Talk about appreciating the experience. Here is a man that knew the Nicholas Brothers, what an honor to be in his presence.
Following the event, Goldstein asked Jaela and Samariyah if they enjoyed watching the Nicholas Brothers. Jaela nodded and smiled, but Samariyah used the “I’ll show you better than I can tell you” approach and started tap-dancing right there in the theater lobby. There I stood in a state of amazement. Surprised by the spontaneity of my daughter’s response, but amazed that the Nicholas Brothers left such an impression on my four year old that she felt the need to show it. There was no better way to end the evening.