Norma Miller is one of the creators of the acrobatic style of swing dancing known as the Lindy Hop. As a child, she watched the dancers at the legendary Savoy Ballroom perched on the fire escape outside her mother's Harlem apartment. When she was 12, she was "discovered" dancing outside the Savoy, and in 1934 was invited to join Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, soon to make an extended tour of Europe.
Upon her return, she appeared in the Marx Brothers' movie A Day at the Races (1937), and from 1937 to 1940 Miller performed with Ethel Waters. Pursuing a career in both dance and comedy, she began working with comedian Redd Foxx in 1963 and later joined him on the 1970's television series Sanford and Son serving as both a stand-up comic and choreographer.
In addition to a rich and long career as a dancer, Miller has become a seminal historian of swing dance. Her biography, Swingin' at the Savoy: A Memoir of a Jazz Dancer, documents the swing dance era, and her recollections on Ken Burns's Jazz documentaries provided a first-hand account of the Harlem music and dance scene. Today she teaches swing dance, including master classes at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, and has choreographed dance scenes in Spike Lee's Malcolm X and Debbie Allen's Stompin' at the Savoy.
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