American University
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Pearl Primus: Cross-cultural pioneer of American dance

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posted on 2023-09-06, 03:24 authored by Jean Ruth Glover

Since 1943, Dr. Pearl E. Primus has been a leading advocate of the arts as an educational resource towards increasing appreciation and understanding of America's multicultural diversity. This work provides a biographical description of how Dr. Primus has used the art of dance to disseminate anthropological-based information about Africa, its culture and the heritage of black Americans. The first black dancer to study with modern dance seminal artists Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Hanya Holm, Pearl Primus was the first artist to successfully combine modern dance with dance material from Africa. Based on research conducted in Africa, the West Indies and the United States, her work expresses the social, political and racial experiences of black Americans, the traditions and values of black culture and above all, the inherent beauty of the human spirit. In 1943 when Pearl Primus began her career, black Americans were ignorant and ashamed about their African roots and other groups did not understand its importance in the development of American culture. Today, the pioneer work of Dr. Pearl Primus can be seen as an important influence in developing a new understanding of the role of black culture and African heritage in American society.



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