TIPPINGPOINT Photo Credit: Barry Ackroyd
If you were to take one cup of the adrenaline from the movie Rize and mix in two parts, the step routines of Stomp The Yard, and then add a dash of the jenesaisquoi of the Les Twins, you would have the winning recipe for an exciting docu-short film called Nicholas Brothers: Stormy Weather.
The film pays respects to the legendary brothers Fayard and Harold Nicholas, best known for their acrobatic dance technique known as “flash dancing.” In the 1940s, the Nicholas Brothers performed a seminal dance routine that prefigured hip hop by three decades. Dance legend and Tony Award-winning choreographer Savion Glover and others guide us along their professional path and assess their legacy, while contemporary dancers Les Twins choreograph and perform their homage to the original.
Nicholas Brothers: Stormy Weather will have its world premiere at The Tribecca Film Fest on June 11. Filmmakers Michael Shevloff, whose work includes Empire of the Sun, Full Metal Jacket and Paul Crowder of Riding Giants, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, and Pavarotti, bring to life this breathtaking film. PrideIndex was excited when Michael Shevloff agreed to an interview via email. He shares the takeaway and the importance of celebrating Fayard and Harold Nicholas.
PrideIndex (PI): Where did your muse for the film Nicholas Brothers: Stormy Weather?
Michael Shevloff (MS): Paul Crowder and I came into the process after it had been conceived. The original idea belongs to Jake Nava and Benedict Cooper. The concept is simply about artists and moments in time that has helped shape our present. The idea is to blend the old and the new to help understand these great artists’ contributions.
PI: How did you become interested in the Nicholas Brothers?
MS: It’s impossible not to become interested in such talented and fearless artists, especially given the time they lived in and what they faced. Have you seen Stormy Weather and the absurdly athletic and crazily brilliant dance routine? As Moses Boyd says in the film, ‘If you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going.’
PI: What would you like audiences to take away from this film?
MS: If the film entertains the audience and leaves them with a newfound appreciation, or even a discovery, of the brilliance that was Fayard and Harold Nicholas, as well as Les Twins, whose dance performance for the film is just incredible, we would be very happy.
PI: How did Laurent and Larry Nicholas Bourgeios, known professionally as the Les Twins, become involved in this film?
MS: Well, I think that Jake, Benedict, and the folks at Pepsi, who funded the film, identified Les Twins and Moses Boyd. There couldn’t be anyone more suited to reinterpret such an iconic routine, right? We joined the production and wanted to compliment all this talent with another incredibly brilliant tap dancer, Savion Glover.
PI: There must be thousands of hours of archival footage of Fayard and Harold Nicholas. How did you decide what to include in this film?
MS: Footage is always a long and detailed process, but the foundation of this footage is from Stormy Weather and some of the rare and special home movies that The Nicholas Brothers’ family have allowed us to use.
PI: Why was it important to make this film?
MS: I think it’s important to know where it all came from. It’s important to remember the pioneers who have shaped the creative landscape of, in this case, dance. And it’s inspiring to know that the Nicholas Brothers became the best at a time when they were hardly accepted into any part of the mainstream. And yet the positivity and joy that flows through them is truly awe-inspiring.
PI: As a docu-filmmaker with only a few minutes to tell this story, what challenges did you face during production, and what did you do to get past those challenges?
MS: I think because we have primarily made feature documentaries, it is just a shift of film and editing language and finding the right pacing. The characters and talent are right there with the Nicholas Brothers, Les twins, Moses Boys and Savion Glover.
MS: The hope is that the film will play at more film festivals and find a home that allows it to be seen by a wider audience.
PI: What else would you like to share?
MS: Once in a while, as filmmakers, we get to tell a story that inspires us and feels right. This has always felt right.