1-6 of 6 results  for:

  • Arts and Leisure x
  • Dance Historian x
  • 1941–1954: WWII and Postwar Desegregation x
Clear all

Article

Navneet Sethi

dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and teacher. Along with Katherine Dunham (1909–2006), Pearl Primus is regarded as the mother of modern African American dance. Dunham and Primus used their vision as anthropologists to revolutionize African American concert dance by valorizing the African heritage in the African American experience.

Pearl Primus was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1919 and came to New York City with her parents in the early 1920s. A 1940 graduate in biology from Hunter College in New York Primus had her first brush with racism when she was unable to get a job in a laboratory Taking classes with the New Dance Group a subunit of the Workers Dance League that was dedicated to social change Primus recognized her passion for dance and the need to graft this passion with her sense of outrage at social conditions Primus ...

Article

James Briggs Murray

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 ...

Article

C. S'thembile West

Primus, Pearl (29 November 1919–29 October 1994), dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Edward Primus and Emily Jackson, and migrated with her family to New York City when she was two years old. She majored in biology and pre-medicine at Hunter College of the City University of New York and graduated in 1940. Seeking support for graduate studies, she solicited help from the National Youth Administration (NYA). Under the auspices of the NYA she was enrolled in a dance group, subsequently auditioned for the New Dance Group in New York, and earned a scholarship with that institution.

During Primus’s tenure at the New Dance Group, she began to do research on African culture. She visited museums, consulted books, articles, and pictures for months to produce on 14 February 1943 her first significant dance work, African Ceremonial for which she had ...

Article

Pearl Primus studied to be a doctor, not a dancer. A biology major at Hunter College in New York City (where her family had emigrated from Trinidad in 1921), then a graduate student of psychology and health education, she was prevented from gaining a laboratory job by racial prejudice. Pressed for money, Primus applied to the National Youth Administration and was placed as an understudy in a dance troupe. Primus's superb athletic ability won her a scholarship to the New Dance Group in 1941. The first black to study and perform there, she began a long career that sought to counteract racism with Afrodiasporic performance culture.

Primus's early work displayed her careful research of traditional African dance styles and her desire to infuse dance with political and social commentary. Her 1943 professional debut, African Ceremonial received such positive reviews that she was able to open on Broadway ...

Article

C. S'thembile West

dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Edward Primus and Emily Jackson, and migrated with her family to New York City when she was two years old. She majored in biology and premedicine at Hunter College of the City University of New York and graduated in1940. Seeking support for graduate studies, she solicited help from the National Youth Administration (NYA). Under the auspices of the NYA she was enrolled in a dance group, subsequently auditioned for the New Dance Group in New York, and earned a scholarship with that institution.

During Primus's tenure at the New Dance Group, she began to do research on African culture. She visited museums and consulted books, articles, and pictures for months to produce on 14 February 1943 her first significant dance work, African Ceremonial which she had asked continental Africans to judge ...

Article

Robert W. Logan

Pearl Primus set out to be a doctor and became a dancer. In her lifelong study of dance she also became a choreographer, an anthropologist, an educator, and a cultural ambassador. And in her hands dance became a language, a medium of social comment, a channel for anger and frustration, a teaching tool, and an instrument of healing.

Primus was born in Trinidad to Edward and Emily (Jackson) Primus. In 1921 the family moved to New York, where she attended Hunter College High School and graduated from Hunter College in 1940 with a major in biology and premedical sciences. At that time there were no jobs available to blacks in New York’s laboratories, so she turned to the National Youth Administration (NYA) for help finding work while she began her graduate studies at night.

The NYA unable to find the kind of job Primus was looking for sent her ...