Happy 99th Birthday Norma!
A quick run through of Norma Millers astonishing dance career in almost a century.
She is the legendary Lindy Hopper from the Savoy Ballroom in NYC who toured the world with a group called Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, introducing the world to Swing Dancing. She worked with greats like Duke Ellington, Luis Armstrong and Count Basie during the golden age when everyone flocked to Harlem, New York City, the mecca of the greatest entertainment.
In this video we have a first view at what I would indicate as the clearest footage of "Twist Mouth" George (George Ganaway). He was one of the greats of the first generation of Lindy Hoppers who Norma credits for creating the "Breakaway" and the ladies twist in the Lindy Hop. (Frankie Manning supposedly copied and taught it to all the girls). He picked up Norma off the sidewalk, then age 12, to compete in a Lindy Hop contest right at the Savoy Ballroom, and they won! Afterwards he put her right back outside. It launched her career as a dancer as Whitey's Lindy Hoppers manager "Whitey" recognized her talent and got her to join their group a few years later.
Most of all, this is a celebration of Norma Millers life. Fierce, driven, sassy, explosive, stunning, flying, innovative, explosive. A true legend who, if you never met her, you will get to know, and at the same time get the story of how she got started in this video. Find out much more in her books like "Swingin' at the Savoy". Movie clips are from "Hellzapoppin" 1941 and "A Day at the Races" 1937.
Our journey with Norma started in the late 80’s when Rob worked with Norma in Las Vegas where she introduced me to the one legged Whitey's Lindy Hopper Jimmy Valentine and Norma's sister Dottie (Dorothy), who also appeared as a dancer in the movie “A Day at the Races” (First couple dancing).
Then in the spring of 1996 Diane and I worked with her in Las Vegas and met the Treniers who were in the same show.
In 1997 we invited her to come to teach in San Francisco. A day to remember (for those that were there) and nobody will forget.
She said I only work with professionals. Yes that day the drill sergeant came out of her, who scared the heebie-jeebies out of all the students. "Give me a reverse ……! " It was a memorable weekend and Chazz Young, one of her Jazz Men and Frankie Manning’s son was there at the same time! We also convinced her to work with our performance group and she taught us the Trickeration routine and we build a routine around it, in dedication to her. Here it is: (Way below is NORMA'S VIDEO)
We always loved her until she got rowdy at our wedding telling us she would send us the doctors bill by ordering this freezing weather. Just kiddin’ …..! She is down to earth, funny, witty, strong and straight forwards. We adopter her as Rob’s second mom. Check out the video below.
Rob and Diane van Haaren
Song by Duke Ellington: "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Swing”