The Founder’s Award is a highly prestigious award presented annually to one distinguished individual who has made a major contribution in the field of Dance. The award is presented to an individual who is one of a kind, exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the founder of the organization, and has rendered selfless and distinguished service in our community. The Founder’s award recognizes exceptional choreography, performance, and uniqueness of the Dance Artists creative voice and their significant contributions. This award recipient has demonstrated a genuine commitment to the mission of IABD and its philosophy which emphasizes the continued responsibility of “carrying the torch” by preserving and promoting dance by people of African ancestry or origin.
Norma Miller, known as the Queen of Swing, is an author, choreographer, dancer, comedian and actor. Discovered at the age of twelve, Ms. Miller’s career spans over seven decades and she continues to inspire all those who know her. In 2003, Norma was honored with a National Heritage Foundation Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts for her role in creating and continuing to preserve “the acrobatic style swing dance, known as the Lindy Hop.” The author of several books, Ms. Miller’s latest book, Swing Baby Swing, chronicles the evolution of the swing culture into the 21st century. Ms. Miller’s biography, Swingin’ at the Savoy: A Memoir of a Jazz Dancer, recollects her youthful encounters with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Ethel Waters and other jazz legends.
Ms. Miller has been the subject of many documentaries including National Geographic’s Jitterbug (1991) and the Smithsonian Jazz series on NPR. In Ken Burn’s documentary Jazz (2001), her recollections provide a first hand account of the Harlem music and dance scene in the 1930s and 40s. In 2006, Florida filmmaker John Biffar, completed a 72-minute documentary, Queen of Swing, that takes an inside look at Norma Miller’s influence in the globalization of America’s jazz culture and she and her fellow artist’s roles in racial integration. Featured interviews include Bill Cobbs, Bill Cosby, Phoebe Jacobs, Frankie Manning, and the late Leonard Reed.
Ms. Miller has appeared in the Marx Brother’s A Day at the Races (1937) and Hellzapoppin (1941), Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992), Debbie Allen’s Stompin’ at the Savoy (1992), and John Biffar’s Captiva (1995). In the sixties, she began working with Redd Foxx at his comedy club and later joined him on the 1970’s television series, Sanford and Son, serving as a stand up comic, actor and choreographer. At the young age of 97, Ms. Miller continues to travel throughout the year making appearances at a number of Swing Dance festivals and Jazz events around the world.