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Xavier Cugat concert program, 1953

Tap in Tokyo | Concert Program 1953
Xavier Cugat with Four Step Brothers

This is a souvenir program from the Xavier Cugat concert tour in Japan in 1953. It reveals a small piece of hidden tap history. In 1953, the Four Step Brothers came to Tokyo to perform with Cugat. The Four Step Brothers were famous in night clubs and in some movies as a specialty act but not many Japanese knew about them.

Ernie Pyle Theater c. 1950
  Ernie Pyle Theater, Tokyo

According to this program, the performances took place in the Ernie Pyle Theatre, March 12th, Teigeki Theatre, March 13th and the Shinjuku Theatre from the 14th – 18th of March, 1953. This show included female dancers and comedians. It was produced by the Toho Geino Haikyu Company. Toho is still one of the big production companies for both stage musicals and movies in Japan . Anyone who knows Gojira (Godzilla) has heard of Toho. Unfortunately, the program offers no information about the Four Step Brothers actual performance.

Four Step Brothers, 1953
 Four Step Brothers, 1953

Billed in their prime as the "Eight Feet of Rhythm", the Four Step Brothers started out in the 1920s performing successfully for some 30 years under Maceo Anderson's leadership. They are credited as the first African-American act to perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York, at the Chez Paris Club in Chicago, and the first to perform on television which made them the best known dance act in America at the time. "The Four Step Brothers" also appeared in numerous motion pictures and were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988.

Maceo Anderson
 Maceo Anderson

In 2001, I had a chance to meet Robert L. Reed who is the grandson of Maceo Anderson, one of the original members of the Four Step Brothers. Mr. Reed came to Japan to perform in our National Tap Day celebration that year. I was one of the committee members in charge of the production. We had a dinner event to thank Mr. Reed for coming and as a gift I gave him this souvenir program. He was so happy to have this and to learn that his grandfather had performed in Japan as well.

— Shinichi Matsumoto