Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Hey all, speaking to Ryan during practice with a pro on Saturday I was reminded of this amazing class I was lucky enough to be a part of with the great Norma Miller. This was the last year Norma was able to make it out to the Uptown Swingout (she passed away in May of 2019 at the age of 99), and she agreed, along with Chazz Young, to lead a class for the top level in a routine of hers to the Count Basie song, "Rock-a-Bye Basie".
I stayed up all night practicing the routine which had (kind of) learned at Herrang early that summer and tried my best to be a good demonstrator of Norma's steps. It was one of the best classes I've been a part of - although certainly not for the faint of heart. This was for the top level, and Norma demanded excellence and pointed out mistakes and lack of effort where she saw it. It was important to me that the advanced dancers at the event, many of whom are scene leaders in their own right, got a chance to learn from one of the elders, and they would teach. No nonsense, fast, focused on rhythm, effort, and repetition.
It was a trial by fire but it was glorious and for those who survived it was cathartic. I know for my part, after demonstrating for the class and then practicing with them, I was pretty much physically exhausted even though I had a lot more event to run. We got through more that 2 entire choruses of choreography in 1 hour, something I've never gotten close to with another class.
I'm not posting this publicly because there are students working their butts off and they may or may not want to be watched casually on YouTube, but I'm excited to share this with you all, because it is a great document of a very special and rare moment that I was lucky enough to be a part of, and that I could share with other dancers of my generation. Plus the routine is awesome.
Thanks for everything Norma.