Primus Indeximage


Born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad


Moves to the United States, New York City.

Attended PS 94 and PS 136

Hunter High School


Hunter College New York B.A in Biology & Pre-Medicine


New Dance Group scholarship student, New York University

Health Education National Youth Administration, employee


YWHA choreography audition one of five selected to present work

Choreographs "Strange Fruit" (to protest the Southern U.S. practice of lynching Blacks), and "Hard Times Blues"

Dance Laurel Award No. 2 presented by John Martin, The New York Times

Hunter College Master's degree candidate, Psychology

Cafe Society Downtown, first dancer hired at this location

Choreographs "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" inspired by Langston Hughes' poem of the same title

Her photograph appears in LIFE Magazine

Spanish Relief Appeal, Benefit performance, Ziegfield Theatre

"African Dance Festival," Carnegie Hall appeared with Asadata Dafora, performance sponsored and attended by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt


Dance Observer" pictured on cover of February issue

Certificate of Merit, USO for dancing in Army camps, hospitals, & ports of embarkation

Trip to Southern States researched African traditions in Black Church services

"Pearl Primus" by Owen Dodson published in Theatre Arts, December issue

YMHA Concert, 92nd Street, NYC - billed with Valerie Bettis

The Dance Teachers Advisory Committee presents "Pearl Primus in Concert" - first solo concert. Chairman: Louis Horst and Committee: Bessie Schoenburg, Murial Stuart, Anita Zahn, Barbara Page, Eugenic Schein, Mary O'Donnell, Ruth Jones

The Citizens Committee of Upper West Side presents "Pearl Primus in Concert"

First Negro Freedom Rally, Madison Square Garden

Belasco Theatre, 44th Street, NYC

Roxy Theatre


Show Boat", New York played "Sal" and "Dahomey Queen"

New Dance Group

Formulated Ethnic Dance Studies course with Jean Erdman and Hadassah East and West Indian Dance Program with Hadassah and Josephine Premice

Hunter College, performance

Appeared in New Jersey, and Connecticut under management of Max Jelin

New Dance Group program, especially for children

The Primus' Company Cross Country Tour under Austin Wilder management

O.R.T. Federation, benefit performance with Charles Weidman

New Dance Group lecture-demonstration on African dance and its influence in Haiti and the US South

Revival of "The Emperor Jones", Chicago Witch Doctor

Columbia University Ph.D. Program in Anthropology

New Dance Group, instructor

American Museum of Natural History

YMHA, Kaufmann Auditorium Kaufmann Settlement Theatre, Pittsburgh
North Carolina College
West Virginia State college
Irvine Auditorium, Philadelphia


Performed in the Broadway revival of "Show Boat"


dolph Thenstead's Broadway production of "Caribbean Carnival" at the International Theatre, New York

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Central High school of Needle Trades, NY

Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Student's Dance Recital Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival,

Guest Artist Calypso, Boston Caribbean Carnival


Participant, Walter Terry's Dance Lab at YMHA, topic was "Dance as a Social Force"

Awarded the largest Julius Rosenwald Fellowship grant for research in Africa

Cafe Society Downtown

Departed New York for Africa


"Star of Africa," a national award presented by the serving President of Liberia, West Africa, William Tubman

"Primitive African Dance and Its Influence on the Churches of the South", by Pearl Primus published in The Dance Encyclopedia (1949 edition)

The Borzoi Book of Modern Dance by Margaret Lloyd is published, Pearl Primus included


he American Museum of Natural History, "Dark Rhythms", lecture-demonstration

"Dark Rhythms", Kaufmann Auditorium of YMHA, Pearl S. Buck, chair of event

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, faculty

The Henry Street playhouse in association with The New York Dance Film society presented a lecture/demonstration created by Pearl Primus titled "The Magical Origin of Dance"

"Dark Rhythms", a program especially for children


"Out of Africa" by Pearl Primus published in Walter Terry's book The Dance Has Many Faces

Ebony Magazine publishes article in January issue

Student's Dance Recital, Central High School of Needle Trades

New Lincoln School, benefit performance

Brooklyn Academy of Music Hunter College, Lecture

"The Woman of Zor" - began collaborating with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling on the story line

Cafe Society Downtown, performer

Columbia University, faculty

"Dark Rhythms", YM-YWHA, 92nd Street, NYC

Royal Command Performance for King George VI Victoria Palace

England Prince's Theatre, London, England Stratford-Upon-Avon, England


In Israel, on tour

Command Performance, Mayor at Tel Aviv American

Museum of Natural History, "Dark Rhythms"

Passport revoked, on "Red Channels" list


Command Performance, Governor, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Little Carib Theatre


In Trinidad, forming a dance company

The Gold Coast Students Cultural Association, two Lecture- demonstrations

Museum of Modern Art

YM-YWHA New York Summer Dance Festival


Student's Dance Recital


Brooklyn Academy of Music

International Students Club, Columbia University, McMillin Theatre

"Mister Johnson" (choreographer) ran on Broadway for 12 weeks at the Martin Beck Theatre

Quirino Theatre, Italy - performance in honor of President William V. S. Tubman of Liberia sponsored by Mediterranean Center of Culture and Entertainment

1956-57 "International Dance Festival Series" in Rome. Italy


Barcelona, Spain - studied Catalonian dance

Carter Barron Amphitheater, Washington, D.C.

"Africa" by Pearl Primus - published in March issue of Dance Magazine

St. Marks Playhouse

Jan Hus Auditorium - Percival Borde and Company with Pearl Primus as guest artist


First International Conference of Negro Artists and Writers, Rome, Italy

"Cultural Dance Concert" St. Marks Playhouse

Appointed Chairman of Cultural Activities and Director of the African Center of Performing Arts, (Konama Kende) Monrovia, Liberia


(18) presentations given under auspices of Konama Kende, first performance in March at City Hall

New York University agrees to allow Pearl Primus to dance her thesis

New Dance Group, lecture-demonstration "Meeting Life Crises Through the Dance"

Benefit for Konama Kende

Command Performance - H.E Haille Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, Monrovia, Liberia


Liberia, West Africa - 68 presentations for private organizations

African Carnival sponsored by African Research Foundation, staged and choreographed by Pearl Primus and Percival Borde


Pearl Primus Dance Tour of Africa begins - sponsored by the Rebekah Harkness Foundation Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Togoland. Dahomey, Nigeria, Cameroons, Union of Central African Republic, and Rwanda-Burundi

Command Performances - Heads of State Sierra Leone, Dahomey, Rhodesia, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroons, Mali

(28) concerts with special African Artists, also sponsored by Rebekah Harkness Foundation


Pearl Primus - Percival Borde Dance Studio presents "Ti Bongo" (Your Dance) given by the artists themselves

African-Caribbean-American Institute of Dance begun at the Primus - Borde Dance Studio

Community Church, New York - Lecture-demonstration

New York University


John Martin’s Book of the Dance by John Martin is published, describes Pearl Primus’ work


Pearl Primus - Percival Borde Dance Studio reopens at 17 West 24th Street

African-Caribbean-American Institute of Dance Arts

Earth Theatre, 24th Street


National Dance Teachers Guild First Regional Conference - Neighborhood Playhouse, Pearl Primus and Jose Limon on panel

Circle in the Square Theatre, "Dark Rhythms"

United States Office of Education Arts and Humanities Grant to create, test and evaluate a dance lecture-demonstration for use in Elementary classrooms


"A Pilot Study Integrating Visual Form and Anthropological Content for Teaching Children Ages 6-11 About Cultures and Peoples of the World" - U.S. Office of Education Project, (40) presentations in NY Public Schools

American Education publishes article in February issue by Nat Hentoff describing the pilot study school program in the schools

McBurney Young Men’s Christian Association 215 West 23rd Street sponsored by the Office of Education National Conference on Education of the Disadvantaged

US Department of Health, Education and Welfare - presented "Dance", a demonstration with lecture


Pratt University, Artist-in-Residence

Library and Museum of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, "Dark Rhythms"


New York City Department of Cultural Affairs sponsors seminar titled "Pilot workshop in the Creative Application of Movement Inspired by Authentic African Dance Forms"


Ford Foundation, Public Education Division asked Pearl Primus to evaluate the dance programs in the British school Systems and determine their applicability to the U.S, public school system

"Awareness of Self" - dance concert, I.M. Marsh College of Physical Education, Liverpool, England

Hunter College (faculty member) - course titled "Dances of the Afro- American Heritage"

American Dance Therapy Association 4th Annual Conference, Philadelphia, Lecture "Life Crises: Dance from Birth to Death"


White House Conference on Children and Youth, Washington, D.C.

"Creativity in Education" - choreography

Hunter College, NY - President's Medal


University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

"The Black World: Perspectus"

"African Dance Concert"

National Culture Through the Arts Award

New York Federation of Foreign Language Teachers

The Today Show, NBC

"Dance and Life"


Hunter College, Faculty member


Phyllis Wheatley Poetry Festival - Jackson State College, Mississippi

"Hymn to the Rising Sun" - Hunter College

"Hunter Hall Of Fame" - Phi Beta Kappa Nu of New York at Hunter College


Alvin Ailey City Center Dance Theatre - Pearl Primus reconstructs "Fanga" and "The Wedding" for the company


Zeta Phi Beta Annual Conference - New Rochelle, NY

"Dance-A Teaching Tool" - dance presentation Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

"Life Crises" - concert Whitney Young Auditorium, New Rochelle, NY

Earth Theatre


Harlem Cultural Council, NYC



Dance Pioneer Award - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

New York University, NY - Ph.D. in Anthropology

Pearl Primus Dance Language Institute incorporated


National Endowment for the Arts awards grant to reconstruct "Fanga"

Theatre of the Riverside Church, NY

Earth Theatre, "Fanga", performance dedicated to Dr. Ethel J. Alpenfels

New York Ethnic Dance Festival, Carnegie Hall

Perry Street Theatre

Earth Theatre

Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival - Damrosch Park, performance

Month-long residency in three East Harlem public schools

Boy’s Harbor Performing Arts School in Harlem - faculty

New Dance Group - faculty

Community Action Agency in New Rochelle, NY - faculty


National Endowment of the Arts - Dance Fellowship Recipient


National Endowment of the Arts - Dance Fellowship Recipient

The Theatre of the Riverside Church dedicated to Percival Borde

Drum Talk in Tribute to Alphonse Cimber - Joe Nash spoke


National Endowment of the Arts - Dance Fellowship Recipient

VARC, panel discussion on the impact of Africa on Dance in the Americas, Pearl Primus, Thomas Pinnock, Tina Ramirez on panel with Duane Jones as moderator


National Endowment of the Arts - Dance Fellowship Recipient

Caribe Magazine - publishes special dance edition Pearl Primus publishes two articles and is pictured in photographic tribute

State University of New York at Buffalo - Director of the Cora P. Maloney College and Associate professor of the Theatre Dept.

Adele A. Wenig publishes Pearl Primus, An Annotated Bibliography of Sources From 1943 to1975


National Endowment of the Arts - Dance Fellowship Recipient

Beverly Anne Hillsman Barber authors Ph.D thesis, "Pearl Primus, in Search of Her Roots, 1943-1970".


National Endowment of the Arts, - Dance Fellowship Recipient

American Anthropological Association Distinguished Service Award, Washington, D.C.

University of Massachusetts Five College Visiting Artist

CONTACT Magazine - February issue publishes article by Patricia Wright

Five College Tribute to Black History Month, "A Struggle for Memory" - choreographed and produced a work for program


New York University's Ernest O. Meby Award for distinguished alumna


National Endowment of the Arts - Dance Fellowship Recipient

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival - Pre-concert lecture in Studio 2


American Dance Festival, "The Black Tradition in American Modern Dance" at Duke University - (3) works reconstructed with a grant from the Ford Foundation

Spelman College, Atlanta, GA - Honorary Doctorate Degree Doctor of Humane Letters

Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY President's Award for Dance

17th Annual African Street Festival, NY - Each day of the Festival is dedicated to a prominent African-American artist in the Performance or Literary Arts: July 3 dedicated to Pearl Primus

Gallery of the Harlem State Office Building New York State Division for Women presents "Black Women in the Arts" - photographic exhibit

Pearl Primus Dance Language Institute Inc. - Advisory Committee organized

Osun Festival, "Tribute to Pearl Primus" - Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, NYC

Resigns from 5 College Program after being told she was too old to teach.


College Lecture Circuit - including Spelman College (Atlanta, GA),

North Carolina Institute of the Arts


Claremont University, West Los Angeles, performs"Negro Speaks of Rivers"


"National Medal of the Arts", US Presidential Award presented by then US President George Bush

"American Dance Festival" - Duke University, several of dances were mounted "Strange Fruit", "Negro Speaks of Rivers", and others.


"Pearl Primus 50th Anniversary" sponsored by Reader’s Digest and held at the Kennedy Center (Main Concert). First concert held at Howard University Auditorium, Washington DC


Dr. Pearl E. Primus dies at home in New Rochelle, NY.


"The Dance Claimed Me, A Biography of Pearl Primus" by Peggy and Murray Schwartz

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Pearl Primus on Graduation Day, Hunter College


Pearl Primus at the onset of her dance career

Pearl Primus at home
in Trinidad with her
Mother and Father

"She Danced Her Way
to Fame in Three Years"

article by Lynn Chase
published in
PM'S Daily Picture Magazine
(April 4, 1944)
Photo by Morris Gordon, PM

Pearl Primus displays her incredible leaping ability



Pearl Primus displays some
of the mask and costumes
used during her performance
in "Emperor Jones"






Dr. Primus with her son
Master Drummer Onwin Borde




"The Wedding" - 1974
City Center Theater
New York, New York

Performed by
Alvin Ailey
City Center Dance Theater

Mari Kajiwara
Cynthia Penn
Linda Kent,
Estelle Spurlock
Nerissa Barnes,
Sylvia Waters
Christa Mueller
Choreographed by
Pearl Primus

"The Initiation" - 1951
Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Performed by
Pearl Primus and Company
Charles Blackwell, George Shipman and Charles Queenan
Choreographed by Pearl Primus









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