This weekend, TMC filled in one of its between-the-movie spots with a short feature, 1935's The All-Colored Vaudeville Show, spotlighting a number of talented performers. Given the year and the title of the short, jingoism was predominent: one background had cartoonish Black faces painted on musical notes, another had a painted watermelon, the acrobatic troupe played their act like stereotypical buffoons. But the talent shone through.
Best of all, for me, were the Nicholas Brothers. Harold may not have been in his teens and Fayard may not have reached his majority, but the duo had the same presence and energy that marked their act throughout their careers. For my money, no one could dance as well as the Nicholas Brothers -- even Gregory Hines was a pale imitation. Astaire, Kelley, O'Connor and other hoofers of Hollywood's heydays couldn't cut the mustard in comparison. Every performance by the Nicholas Brothers that I have seen was joyous and amazing.
If you are not convinced, here are a few clips, picked at random, from Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu1odwWrCKE (Their act begins about six minutes in, but you get to see Roy, Dale and Trigger before that)