Stompin' at the Savoy

Stompin' at the Savoy

The Story of Norma Miller

By Alan B. Govenar (Editor); Martin French (Illustrator)

Candlewick Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780763622442, 56pp.

Publication Date: January 2006


Through extensive interviews with jazz dancer Norma Miller, acclaimed author and filmmaker Alan Govenar captures the vitality, wry humor, and indomitable spirit of an American treasure.

When she was just five years old, in 1924, Norma Miller knew just what she wanted to do for the rest of her life: she wanted to dance. It was the Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance, and Norma lived behind New York's Savoy Ballroom, the only dance hall in a still-segregated America where blacks and whites could mingle on the same mahogany floor. It was in this majestic "home of happy feet" that twelve-year-old Norma first brought the house down, swing-stepping with Twist Mouth George, one of the premier dancers of the day. Before long, the feisty Norma would rise to fame as one of the first performers of the Lindy Hop, an acrobatic dance style named for Charles Lindbergh's first solo flight (or "hop") across the Atlantic. With the celebrated dance troupe Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, a teenage Norma would cross the Atlantic herself on a tour of Europe and even strut her stuff on the silver screen.

In this invigorating, humorous, and thought-provoking oral autobiography, Alan Govenar captures the sound and spirit of Norma Miller's voice as she recalls her early years and coming of age as a determined young dancer during the heyday of swing. Augmenting her lively narrative are Martin French's jazzy, singlecolor illustrations, evoking the vibrant style of vintage poster art.

About the Author
ALAN GOVENAR is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and folklorist, as well as the author of numerous books, including the
award-winning OSCEOLA: MEMORIES OF A SHARECROPPER'S DAUGHTER, illustrated by Shane W. Evans. "EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE is a journey across America through the lives and creativity of five individuals," he says. "These artists are innovators and teachers, eager to share their skills and knowledge. Their stories -- relayed mostly through their own words -- speak to the importance of determination, perseverance, and humor." Alan Govenar is the president and founder of Documentary Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded to broaden public knowledge and appreciation of the arts of different cultures. In addition, he is the producer of MASTERS OF TRADITIONAL ARTS, a multifaceted project focusing on more than twenty years of the National Heritage Fellowship program.

Martin French grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied illustration and design at ArtCenter in Pasadena, California gaining his BFA in 1983. Martin has received many awards of excellence from American Illustration, Communication Arts, Print, and the Society of Illustrators. He has been awarded a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators/ New York and a Bronze Medal from the Society of Illustrators/ Los Angeles . Martin makes his home in central Oregon .