Primus, Pearl

Primus, Pearl

(?1919–94) modern dancer, choreographer; born in Trinidad, British West Indies. Coming to the U.S.A. as a child, she took premed science courses at Hunter College in New York City, and fell into dancing almost by chance while looking for laboratory work in 1940. The first African-American accepted by the New Dance Group, she made her solo debut in 1944 to great critical acclaim. A powerful and dramatic dancer, she gave many performances based on West Indian and African dances, forming her own group with her husband, Percival Borde. She won a Rosenwald fellowship to study the dances of Africa (1948–51) and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. She was the first director of the Liberian performing arts center (1959) and in the 1970s her works were presented by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.