15 Facts About Norman Crider, (1938-2009)

Rural New Mexican Norm Crider was born in 1938 and influenced a generation of French and Italian baton twirlers. Here are 15 facts about the late international champion and college feature twirler.


Born in 1938 in Lordsburg, New Mexico, he spent most his childhood in Southwest New Mexico. Eventually, he moved to Estancia, near Albquerque, graduating from Estancia High in 1956.


From a young age, ballet became his passion. He wanted to dance; however, there were no ballet schools for boys in Southwest New Mexico. According to Circopedia, to satisfy his love of performing, he learned to twirl baton. Here is a video of him from 1954. At the end he is seen wearing a uniform with several medals pinned to the jacket and holding a trophy.


He was the 1955 New Mexico State Baton Twirling Champion. Some publications report that he won international baton twirling titles, but we haven’t been able to document this yet.


New Mexico A & M College (now New Mexico State University) recruited him in 1956 to be one of their feature twirlers.


At some point baton twirling led to his discovery by Merriel Abbott (1893-1977), an impresario who had been a renowned dance instructor in Chicago. Abbott hired him to twirl at a 1957 ice-skating show at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Chicago. He twirled in ice skates on an ice rink.

Baton Twirling on Ice – Norman Crider


In 1958, he starred in the Norm Crider Trio, a baton twirling act that included champion baton twirling sisters Janet (1938-2021) and Jeanne (1940-2020) Nobles. The trio opened for many famous artists at Chicago’s Conrad Hilton Hotel.


After the ice skating show in Chicago, he began studying ballet with Edna McRae (1910-1990) the grand dame of Chicago ballet.


In 1961, he appeared on a popular French television show, La piste aux etoiles. A video of his performance is published on Circopedia. It is over five minutes long and includes a flag baton routine, multiple baton and fire baton. An embed option is not available. To view it click here.


In 1962, he again twirled on ice in a production of the Wizard of Oz on Ice.


For 12 years he performed as a juggler in countries all over the world, and in 1969, became the International Juggling Champion, Italy. He retired from show business that same year.


A resident of Paris for nearly a decade, the French Government awarded him the Order of Cultural Merit and Philanthropy.


During his years in Europe he regularly provided baton twirling lessons to dozens of French and Italian children.


In 1974, he opened The Ballet Shop in New York City’s Lincoln Center. It became a popular landmark as well as a gathering place for choreographers and dancers. To that end, Crider, along with his life partner, the late Tobias Leibovitz, became a tremendous collector of ballet films, books and memorabilia. He also collected circus memorabilia. The Ballet Shop closed in 1996.


Founder and president of the Antiques Center of America, Crider became influential in the world of antique costume jewelry and is credited with creating a market where none existed.


Norman Crider died of cancer in 2009. He was 70.

In your opinion, what was Crider’s most impressive accomplishment?

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