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date: 30 March 2020

Primus, Pearl locked

(Pearl Eileene Primus; born 29 November 1919 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, died 29 October 1994 in New Rochelle, New York), dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, instructor, lecturer, and scholar.
  • James Briggs Murray

Extract

In the early 1920s Primus's parents brought her from their native Trinidad to New York City, where she attended Hunter College High School and Hunter College, graduating in 1940 with a degree in biology and premedical sciences. Her aspiration to be a physician was thwarted by racial discrimination, which blocked her from being hired by New York's medical laboratories. Turning to the National Youth Administration, she was given a wardrobe position in a dance demonstration unit, despite having no particular interest in dance. She later became a dancer's understudy, and the National Youth Administration assigned her to demonstrate everything from the minuet to the lindy.

Becoming more seriously interested in dance, Primus won a scholarship offered by New York City's New Dance Group in July 1941. She studied and absorbed the techniques of Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Hanya Holm, Charles Weidman, and Beryl McCurnie ...

A version of this article originally appeared in International Encyclopedia of Dance.

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