A-to-Z Challenge: Norma Miller

Norma Miller is a dancer. Lindy Hop way back in the early thirties at the Savoy ballroom in Harlem. She’s a classic, and a little bit of everything else. The woman dances, writes (songs and books), directs films, and acts (film and stage.)

As you might be able to tell, I’m an actual fan. I’d probably be a puddle on the floor, if she ever actually talked to me.

Her autobiography, Swingin’ at the Savoy is well worth the read, and be sure to look up her films. She’s still alive and well at 97, so buy new, and send her a note to tell her how amazing she is.

Here’s a scene from Hellzapoppin’ (With dancers labeled by name.) It’s one of the great dance scenes of all time, but it is from a bygone era, so you may want to give it a quick run-through before you watch it with children.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

Ballerina Feet

I wandered off on a tangent, yesterday.  Something about kids and baby ballet. A bumper sticker on a car–one of those Activity/Kid’s Name things–made me think of it. Now, let’s be honest. I live in a small town in the Midwest, where there are exactly zero dance studios that have the direct line to Julliard.

I suspect there aren’t all that many parents who are looking toward dance as a future career for their kids, either.

There are a lot of things to be said for a good dance teacher and a positive dance experience.

And there are just as many problems with a bad one.

I have one dancing cousin who credited dancing with her continued ability to walk, following her MS diagnosis.

And another one who’s been luckier, but who is hobbling around on a cane with all kinds of nerve damage. Why? Because going en pointe isn’t all that good for you, and once upon a time… Well, she was at the top of her small-town ballet class for a flashing moment.

Did she ever have a chance at a career as a ballerina? No. Did she have a chance of being able to walk without pain well into her forties? Of course.

I’d pay for jazz, I’d pay for tap, or modern dance… I’d run screaming from ballet. Why? Because ballet is the one with the highest cost–in terms of your body–and the one with the lowest chance of having a career. And because a kid’s best interests change, depending on whether she’s a 17th century waif starving in Paris, or a 21st century child with a chance at all kinds of careers.

They say that everyone wants to be successful, until they find out how much it costs. I think I’ve seen that next to a picture of a ballerina’s feet, at one point.

But that makes it sound as if everyone can be successful, if they’re just willing to pay.

What about the kids who see what it costs, and pay–and keep paying–for success they never achieve, and never had a chance of achieving?