A dancer, choreographer, and proselytizer for African dance, Pearl Primus (1919-1994) trained at the New Dance Group and worked with Asadata Dafora. She began a life-long study of African and African-American material in the 1940s, and developed a repertory of dances emphasizing the rich variety of African diasporic traditions. Soon after her Pillow debut in 1947, Primus spent a year in Africa documenting dances. Primus lectured widely and taught courses in anthropology and ethnic dance on many college campuses including the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “I dance not to entertain,” she once said, “but to help people to better understand each other.” Some four decades after her Pillow debut, she returned to lecture and participate in a special African Music and Dance project.
EXPLORE JOHN PERPENER’S MULTIMEDIA ESSAY ON PEARL PRIMUS