Okay this is embarrassing. I’m a huge Janet Jackson fan. I’m also the editor-in-chief of Yehoodi, whose name was inspired by a Cab Calloway song. I just learned yesterday that the 1989 music video to the Janet Jackson song “Alright” features Cab Calloway, the Nicholas Brothers, and Cyd Charisse. Holy smokes.
Cab Calloway you know as the famous swing era band leader. The Nicholas Brothers are tap dance legends, known for their incredible showmanship, athletic leaps, and endless splits. Cyd Charisse was a renowned dancer / actor who performed alongside Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in the 1940s and 50s.
To see them all together in a music video from 1989 just blows my mind. But here they are.
[Sorry, this was the only version of the music video I could find with decent resolution. Try this version, if it doesn’t load for you.]
Cyd Charisse appears at around the 2:50 mark, looking as elegant and stylish as ever, with her famous high-kick. Charisse was 69 at the time this was filmed!
Fayard and Harold Nicholas do a sweet little tap routine at the 4:55 mark. They were 76 and 69, respectively, at the time.
And of course Cab Calloway is featured at several points in the music video, still looking amazing in one of his last public appearances, shortly before his passing in 1994. He was 83 when the video was made.
One might quibble about the mixture of 1940s and 1950s elements in the same video (zoot suits, letterman jackets, etc). But then again, nobody was locking, popping, and vogue-ing in that era.
Really it’s a testament to the artistic vision of Janet Jackson that she showed respect for an earlier era of pop entertainers.
SIDENOTE: We've been told that Chester Whitmore had a role in choreographing the amazing dancing in this video. Can anyone help us confirm this?