Norma Miller

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Norma Miller
Norma Miller 05.jpg
Norma Miller (2009).
Born (1919-12-02) December 2, 1919 (age 95)
Harlem, New York, U.S.

Norma Miller is a famous Lindy Hop Swing Dancer (Born December 2, 1919) who is known as the “Queen of Swing”.

Biography[edit]

Norma Miller was born in Harlem, New York in the early 1900s. When the Great Depression happened in 1929, Norma and her family moved to a new apartment that faced the Savoy Ballroom. Savoy was where Norma acquired her start as a profession swing dancer. One day when Norma was 12, she was dancing outside of the Savoy on the sidewalk and was approached by Twist Mouth George, “the greatest dancer at the Savoy” as Norma put it.[1] Twist asked Norma to dance with him at the Savoy and that was her first experience dancing in that venue. Later that year, Norma entered the Savoy Lindy Hop Contest, which was held at the Apollo Theater. Norma entered with Sonny, one of her high school friends and they won the contest.[2] Winning gave her recognition and prompted Herbert "Whitey" White to allow Norma to join his group of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. The group rose to fame after winning a contest at the Harvest Moon Ball. Subsequently, all of the members were considered some of the best Lindy Hoppers in the world. Norma and the group performed on Broadway and in several movies.

In addition to being an accomplished dancer, Norma was also an author. She has written the several books. Me & John Biffar: A Love Story, is about her friendship with filmmaker John Biffar. Swing, Baby Swing! Follows the evolution of swing dance in the 21st century. Swingin at the Savoy: A Memoir of a Jazz Dancer is her own personal memoir chronicling her life. In the book she describes her early life and meetings with the famous jazz musicians and swing dancers of that time period. These include, Frankie Manning, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, among others.

Throughout her life Norma Miller was an actor as well. She has appeared in 6 films and 4 TV series. Her roles ranged from traditional acting to making appearances as a dancer. Her most famous appearance in film for Lindy Hop is seen in the swing dance scene in Hellzapoppin with Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers.

In 2003 Norma was given an award from the National Endowment of the arts for creating and continuing to preserve “the acrobatic style swing dance, known as the Lindy Hop”.[3]

Towards the end of her life, Norma traveled the country going to different Lindy Hop events spreading swing around the country.

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Film Role
1937 A Day at the Races Black Singer
1941 Hellzapoppin' Dancer (Cook)
1976 Sparkle Doreen
1977 The Richard Pryor Special Bar Patron
1992 Malcolm X Roseland Dancer
1995 Captiva Island Clara

TV Show Appearances[edit]

Year Show Role
1973-1974 Sanford and Son Dolly/Roxie/Jackie
1976 Grady THe Go-Go Dancer
1977 Sanford Arms Dolly Wilson
1979 Vega$ Maid

Documentary Appearances[edit]

Year Documentary
1989 Call of the Jitterbug
1993 Mo'Funny: Black Comedy in America
1996 E! True Hollywood Story
1999 American Masters
2000 Jazz
2006 Queen of Swing
2012 The Savoy King: Chick Webb & the Music That Changed America
2013 Moms Mabley: I Got soemthin' to Tell You

[4][5][6][7][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miller, Norma and Miller Jensen. Swingin’ at the Savoy: The Memoir of a Jazz Dancer. Philidelphia: Temple University Press. Print.
  2. ^ Miller, Norma. “Queen of Swing.” Wordpress. Web. 11 Nov. 2014
  3. ^ “NEA National Heritage Fellowships.” National Endowment for the Arts. National Endowment for the Arts. N.d. Web. 20 2014.
  4. ^ “Norma Miller.” IMDB. N.p. n.d. web. 11 Nov. 2014.
  5. ^ Queen of Swing. Dir. John Biffar. Perf. Norma Miller, Bill Cosby, BB King, Frankie Manning, and Leonard Reed. 2006. Film
  6. ^ Norma Miller – The Queen of Swing. Web. 11 Nov. 2014 < http://queenofswing.net/index.html>
  7. ^ Miller, Norma and Frankie Manning. Interview with Norma Miller and Frankie Manning. Jazz. 1997. Web 15 Nov. 2014
  8. ^ Call of the Jitterbug. Dir. Tana Ross, Jesper Sorensen, and Vibeke Winding. Perf. Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Dizzy Gillespie, Mama Lu Parks and Sugar Sullivan-Niles. New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1989. Film

External links[edit]