The JiveSwing Blog!

Norma Miller Dancing at LOT 2014

Thursday, 15th May, 2014

I was really looking forward to teaching at LOT, as I believe, it would be the first event in Europe dedicated solely to Norma Miller, the writer, the comedian, the dancer, but what happened on the weekend, simply couldn’t have been planned.

                        Norma Miller, sitting with our Jazz Class at LOT 2014 (Olga Kursanova)

The event was held at the Grand Hotel, on the beach of Pescara. We were welcomed by the Organisors and Norma Miller, full of love and energy as usual. With a busy schedule ahead, we were keen to work on our  jazz class and Norma was happy to help, which turned into a scary impromptu private lesson with her.

                               Joseph & Charlotte, being taught by an uncompromising Norma.. :-)

Woah!.. This was an old skool class, as she pointed, sang, then shouted rhythms including ‘Gimme da beat… Gimme dat damn beat!’ to ensure that our Trickeration Jazz class, was rhythmically and  historically accurate, as possible. There was no counting and no room in her books for diplomacy lol..

Despite having my pride ripped, then shot to pieces, Charlotte and I felt honoured, as we appreciated the wisdom and professional level of perfection that Norma has been used to, having worked with the best in the world since
the 1930s. I mean, I’m no Chazz Young.. lol.

                       Norma Miller, with Joseph & Charlotte, in the  Jazz Class

We had a great day, teaching the Trickeration routine, whilst discussing the history of it, then finished the workshop by performing alongside  Norma Miller, to some of her preferred tracks For dancers only, Corner Pocket and Lester Leaps In, which Chazz uses. Amazing coincidence, was John Biffar, movie producer and Director of Dreamtime Entertainment, finishing an assignment to film the Pope, in Rome, who arrived in time to film Norma. With John and Norma watching, this was serious pressure.  :-)

This gave rise to a great, in depth Interview and Q&A session, where it was great to hear so many amazing stories about Norma’s Life, encounters in and out of the Savoy Ballroom.

The evening was something special, as Norma Miller opened the show, by singing her song, Swing Baby Swing to live music for the very first time, to The Billy Bros. Swing Orchestra. The arrangement was written by band leader Maurizio and she invited their singer to join her.

Norma Miller, Roberta Bevilacqua, singing to Billy Bros.Swing Orchestra

The band played Norma’s favourite track Shiny Stockings, the crowd stopped to look at Norma, Norma looked at me, giving me permission, as we slowly took to the dance floor. I kept Norma close, to protect the Queen of Swing, but as the atmosphere rose, she whispered when are you gonna ******* swing me out!.. I said are you sure? Hell yeah.. She exclaimed and the crowd went crazy..

She told everyone, that she hadn’t danced with anyone else like that since Frankie Manning. I felt so honoured.

The weekend ended, with an impromptu Tap performance by Ann Amendolagine (US), who learnt from a student of the great Honey Coles, followed by many informal, historical conversation about Swing, Jazz, Tap and Life.

A massive thanks to Norma for being so caring about our development and generous with her time and knowledge. Another huge thanks to Maurizio, Roberta and the Abbruzzo Swing Dance society for their passion in making this amazing weekend happen, the first of its kind for Norma and inviting us to be a part of Norma’s history.   This kind of experience is priceless and has given more meaning to my journey in Jazz dance. :-)