Interview with Fayard Nicholas

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Interview with Fayard Nicholas
Balanchine, George (Choreographer)
Nicholas, Fayard (Interviewee)
Hill, Constance Valis (Interviewer)
George Balanchine Foundation (Presenter)

Popular Balanchine

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2001-01-12
Table of Contents
Disc 1 (ca. 41 min.). Fayard Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers discusses his memories and working with George Balanchine during the Broadway production of Babes in Arms; about Dan Dailey being in the show and also being a Hollywood star for 20th Century Fox; first meeting Balanchine when performing in Ziegfeld follies of 1936; performing a number with Josephine Baker and how unhappy she was about the white male ensemble not being allowed to lift her like in Paris; Nicholas Brothers choreographing their own steps for Ziegfeld follies of 1936; story of performing at Shubert Theater in Boston when they had multiple encores and the stage manager tried to get the audience to stop by opening curtain with Fanny Brice on stage but audience kept applauding so Brice just had to watch them dance in front of her for several more encores; first hearing about and meeting Balanchine; working with Balanchine in Babes in arms rehearsal for the first time when creating dance for Johnny one-note; remembering Balanchine staging the dream sequence, Peter's journey with Duke McHale; Johnny Pierce being the tap choreographer and assistant to Balanchine; about the All dark people is light on their feet number which his mother made him change to All dark people are light on their feet; looking at rehearsal scene photographs with tap chorus line and Egyptian ballet (tap number); Constance Valis Hill reading the intro text and lyrics to Johnny one-note; where the Egyptian number came in the scene; looking at more photographs of Johnny one-note; description of the Egyptian ballet with the accumulation of the ballet girls as the Nicholas Brother jumped and cartwheeled over them and landed in the splits which they continues to use in other routines; the Egyptian number with the girls also being performed at the Roxy Theatre; Valis Hill playing the music for Johnny one-note. |||| Disc 2 (35 min.). Continuation of the Johnny one-note music with text; watching home movies off camera of Act 2 finale, Johnny one-note dance, scene of rehearsal for Lee Calhoun's follies, and the Act 2 finale with time step; Babes in arms being the Nicholas Brothers first acting roles on Broadway; being good friends with the entire cast; Balanchine being pleased with their performances; Betty Bruce attending lots of performances as Mitzi Green's friend and praising the Nicholas Brothers; Balanchine telling them what to do in dance but having them create the actual movements; the director Nick Castle asking them to do movies; looking at the remaining photographs of Babes in arms which include Johnny Pierce on stilts and with Mitzi Green and Ray Heatherton; talking about the score and the possibility of reconstructing the dances; the ending of Act I with the curtain coming down while singer is still performing and lowering his head; Nicholas never seeing Balanchine again after Babes in arms; performing in Babes in arms and then going to Cotten Club to perform each night; getting nicknames of Moe and Little Moe from the ticket broker on street after they left theater and asking them, "Hello Moe, what do ya' know?"; and Nicholas' final thoughts on Balanchine.
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDVD 5-7315
Balanchine, George
Nicholas, Fayard
Nicholas, Harold
Dailey, Dan, 1914-1978
Baker, Josephine, 1906-1975
Bruce, Betty
Green, Mitzi, 1920-1969
Castle, Nick
Pierce, Johnny
Nicholas Brothers
Tap dancing
African Americans in musical theater
Babes in arms
Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. Ziegfeld follies of 1936
Content: This interview relates to the Popular Balancine dossiers (Box 14. Babes in Arms) (1937) [Dance Division call number: *MGZMD 146, box 14], compiled by Constance Valis Hill. Inventory, overview by Constance Valis Hill, background materials, programs (originals and photocopies), notices and reviews (photocopies of printed sources and typed compilation of press commentary), photographs (digital scans, prints, and photocopies), and transcripts of interviews with Georgia Hiden, Marjorie Jane, Fayard Nicholas, Gedda Petry, and Jay Pevney. Also includes annotated conductor's score (dance numbers only), playscript, and original souvenir program.
Performers: Interviewee, Fayard Nicholas and Katherine Hopkins-Nicholas (wife); interviewer, Constance Valis Hill.
Venue: Videotaped during an interview at the Balanchine Foundation, New York, N.Y., on Jan. 12, 2001.
Acquisition: Gift; George Balanchine Foundation. NN-PD
Physical Description
Extent: 2 videocassettes (DVCam) (76 min.) : sound, color ; 1/4 in.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19683036
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): f31a94c0-f746-0130-77db-3c075448cc4b
Rights Statement
The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.

Item timeline of events

  • 2001: Created
  • 2018: Digitized
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Fayard Nicholas" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2001.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Fayard Nicholas" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 14, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2001). Interview with Fayard Nicholas Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Fayard Nicholas, (2001)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=April 14, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Fayard Nicholas