Catalogue


The dance claimed me : a biography of Pearl Primus /
Peggy and Murray Schwartz.
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011.
description
324 p.
ISBN
0300155344 (hardback), 9780300155341 (hardback)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011.
isbn
0300155344 (hardback)
9780300155341 (hardback)
abstract
"Pearl Primus (1919-1994) blazed onto the dance scene in 1943 with stunning works that incorporated social and racial protest into their dance aesthetic. In The Dance Claimed Me, Peggy and Murray Schwartz, friends and colleagues of Primus, offer an intimate perspective on her life and explore her influences on American culture, dance, and education. They trace Primus's path from her childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad, through her rise as an influential international dancer, an early member of the New Dance Group (whose motto was "Dance is a weapon"), and a pioneer in dance anthropology. Primus traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, and Africa, and she played an important role in presenting authentic African dance to American audiences. She engendered controversy in both her private and professional lives, marrying a white Jewish man during a time of segregation and challenging black intellectuals who opposed the "primitive" in her choreography. Her political protests and mixed-race tours in the South triggered an FBI investigation, even as she was celebrated by dance critics and by contemporaries like Langston Hughes. For The Dance Claimed Me, the Schwartzes interviewed more than a hundred of Primus's family members, friends, and_fellow artists,_as well as_other individuals to create a vivid portrayal of a life filled with passion, drama, determination, fearlessness, and brilliance"--
catalogue key
7615122
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-04-22:
Peggy and Murray Schwartz, who are married and who were both employed at University of Massachusetts Amherst, here explore the life of Pearl Primus (1919-94), with whom they worked and socialized. An important figure in dance history, she was a pioneer in communicating an understanding of African dance and culture in the United States. She also used dance as a form of social protest. Born in Trinidad, she came to America as a child. Originally aspiring to be a doctor but lacking opportunity because of her race, Primus shifted into dance and political activism. Later in life, she earned a Ph.D. from New York University in educational sociology and anthropology. She was a riveting performer, and the book is filled with eyewitness accounts of her powerful presence on stage and off. Primus says it best: "When I danced it, I wasn't male or female. I wasn't the wind. I wasn't the tree. I was a concept." The authors also include a helpful time line. Verdict This welcome addition to dance history illuminates Primus's life and career.-Barb Kundanis, Longmont P.L., CO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2012-01-01:
Peggy Schwartz (dance, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Murray Schwartz (literature, Emerson College) have written an informal, intimate, yet scholarly biography of Primus (1919-94), a professional modern dancer and pioneer in the field of dance anthropology who influenced American culture, dance, and education. The authors base the biography on interviews with Primus's family, friends, and fellow artists. Along with other black dancers, Primus fought against racism in dance, theater, and society at large. Her self-identification as a black dancer and quest for cultural retrieval though dance "claimed" her, and she was responsible for the flowering of African and African-based cultural expression in dance in America. This biography reveals dance as both product and producer of culture; one of the foremost African American dancers of the 20th century, Primus used dance as a weapon to fight segregation, in venues from political rallies to Broadway and the modern dance concert stage. This is an excellent source for those interested in American and African American studies, women's studies, and, of course, American modern dance, dance anthropology, and dance education. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. C. T. Bond Goucher College
Reviews
Review Quotes
" The Dance Claimed Me is at once an invaluable contribution to the cultural history of American dance as well as a scintillating account of an extraordinary life. As dancer, a force majeure; as choreographer, a culturally groundbreaking and influential innovat∨ as devotee and tireless teacher of traditional African cultural values, Mama Pearl Primus was the embodiment of black consciousness and womanhood at its very best. All of which emerges powerfully from these pages."Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, author of The Harder They Come
"[This] biography reflects honest but compassionate insight into a towering artist who was not always easy to understand or work with. The Dance Claimed Me ably portrays Primus and the times and experiences that molded herfrom racism and Red-baiting in America to a life-transforming, if sometimes unreliably welcoming, Africa. Regal, headstrong and as complex as only a driven genius can be, Primus can be credited with infusing the American dance stage with the profundities and subtleties of African ritual dance and music, influential if impossible to duplicate to perfection. I recommend this engrossing, poignant study of her life and contributions."Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody Blog
" The Dance Claimed Me is at once an invaluable contribution to the cultural history of American dance as well as a scintillating account of an extraordinary life. As dancer, a force majeure; as choreographer, a culturally groundbreaking and influential innovat∨ as devotee and tireless teacher of traditional African cultural values, Mama Pearl Primus was the embodiment of black consciousness and womanhood at its very best. All of which emerges powerfully from these pages."Ekwueme Michael Thelwell
"The authors. . . create vivid descriptions of [Primus's] performances, and illuminate her pioneering work in merging African dance with modern dance innovation; they explore her charming but difficult personality with tact and grace."-Judith Flanders, Times Literary Supplement
"The authors soar as they extrapolate and define the many complex parts of Pearl Primus. Their research is exhaustive and comprehensive. The reader is pulled into her dynamic world and given a front row seat to one of her many mesmerising performances."Dr. Glenville Ashby, Trinidad Guardian
"The Dance Claimed Me captures the myriad experiences of an exceptional artist whose impact on the world of art and culture far exceeds the attention dance history scholars have given her prior to this book's publication....The reader is drawn into the evolving dynamics shaping the social, political, and aesthetic life of America and the world. Part of the book's overall achievement is that it shows, in brilliant detail, how so many of these changes were embodied in the life and art of Pearl Primus."-John Perpener III, Dance Chronicle
" The Dance Claimed Me is a highly personal biography, and the authors reveal, in their introduction and elsewhere in the book, the nature of their close relationship to the choreographer. One can sense the deep love that guides the writers as they set out to tell the story of Primus's life. The Dance Claimed Me brings Pearl Primus to life, revealing multiple dimensions of her world to new audiences."-Dance Research Journal
"Peggy and Murray Schwartz have written a bold biography of one of the most important figures in American dance. Pearl Primus almost single-handedly lifted African dance to the American stage and gave the world her magic in a daring creativity sustained by a sheer love of movement. This book should be read by anyone seeking to understand modern dance traditions."--Molefi Kete Asante, author of The History of Africa: The Quest for Eternal Harmony
"The authors. . . create vivid descriptions of [Primus''s] performances, and illuminate her pioneering work in merging African dance with modern dance innovation; they explore her charming but difficult personality with tact and grace."Judith Flanders, Times Literary Supplement
"Filled with eyewitness accounts of her powerful presence on stage and off . . . this welcome addition to dance history illuminates Primus''s life and career."Library Journal.com
"Filled with eyewitness accounts of her powerful presence on stage and off . . . this welcome addition to dance history illuminates Primus's life and career." Library Journal.com
"In The Dance Claimed Me, we see Pearl Primus dancing a dance performed only by Watusi men. We see her electrifying performance at the first Negro rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where she became moon and prayer. Rain. Thunder. Light on the world stage. We feel the pulse of this twentieth century African-American woman claiming the dance of her people for all people and we chant Amen. Amen. A woman. A woman."Sonia Sanchez
"In The Dance Claimed Me, we see Pearl Primus dancing a dance performed only by Watusi men. We see her electrifying performance at the first Negro rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where she became moon and prayer. Rain. Thunder. Light on the world stage. We feel the pulse of this twentieth century African-American woman claiming the dance of her people for all people and we chant Amen. Amen. A woman. A woman."Sonia Sanchez, author of Morning Haiku
"Pearl Primus was a cauldron of creativity. When she danced she allowed us to share her soul. Peggy and Murray Schwartz celebrate one of the most fantastic beings to set rhythms on the sacred ground called Earth."--Chuck Davis, Director, African American Dance Ensemble and Founder, DanceAfrica
"Pearl Primus was a cauldron of creativity. When she danced she allowed us to share her soul. Peggy and Murray Schwartz celebrate one of the most fantastic beings to set rhythms on the sacred ground called Earth."--Chuck Davis, Founder and Artistic Director of the African American Dance Ensemble
"Peggy and Murray have taken the great, complicated life and legacy of Pearl Primus and given us a way to learn, breathe and feel Pearl''s life journey. It reads like a mystery novel, turning and churning at unexpected moments. Dance scholars, African American historians and lovers of dance will all inhale this book."--Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Director, Urban Bush Women
"Peggy and Murray have taken the great, complicated life and legacy of Pearl Primus and given us a way to learn, breathe and feel Pearl''s life journey. It reads like a mystery novel, turning and churning at unexpected moments. Dance scholars, African American historians and lovers of dance will all inhale this book."--Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Founder and Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women
"Peggy and Murray Schwartz have written a bold biography of one of the most important figures in American dance. Pearl Primus almost single-handedly lifted African dance to the American stage and gave the world her magic in a daring creativity sustained by a sheer love of movement. This book should be read by anyone seeking to understand modern dance traditions."--Molefi Kete Asante, author of The History of Africa
"An extraordinary life story, told by Peggy and Murray Schwartz in a biography that warms the heart, lifts the spirit, and stimulates the mind."-Bill Harpe, Dancing Times
"[A]n informal, intimate, yet scholarly biography of Primus . . . This is an excellent source for those interested in American and African American studies, women''s studies, and, of course, American modern dance, dance anthropology, and dance education."C.T. Bond, Choice
"A revelation of one woman's life, a celebration of Black beauty, and a pleasure to read, The Dance Claimed Me is required reading for anyone interested in one 20th century Black woman trailblazer's story."Eisa Nefertari Ulen, The Crisis
"As much a labour of love as it is a recovery project, The Dance Claimed Me communicates the Schwartzs' sincere investment in securing Primus's place in concert dance and US cultural history.…The authors strike a devotional tone that will probably resonate with many readers who admire the artist, and for whom this book represents the acknowledgement that Primus has always deserved but seldom received. There is no question that the book is an archival tour de force ."-Rebekah Kowal, Performance Research
"Peggy and Murray Schwartz have written a bold biography of one of the most important figures in American dance. Pearl Primus almost single-handedly lifted African dance to the American stage and gave the world her magic in a daring creativity sustained by a sheer love of movement. This book should be read by anyone seeking to understand modern dance traditions."--Molefi Kete Asante, author ofThe History of Africa
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, April 2011
Choice, January 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Pearl Primus (1919-1994) blazed onto the dance scene in 1943 with stunning works that incorporated social and racial protest into their dance aesthetic. InThe Dance Claimed Me, Peggy and Murray Schwartz, friends and colleagues of Primus, offer an intimate perspective on her life and explore her influences on American culture, dance, and education. They trace Primus's path from her childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad, through her rise as an influential international dancer, an early member of the New Dance Group (whose motto was "Dance is a weapon"), and a pioneer in dance anthropology. Primus traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, and Africa, and she played an important role in presenting authentic African dance to American audiences. She engendered controversy in both her private and professional lives, marrying a white Jewish man during a time of segregation and challenging black intellectuals who opposed the "primitive" in her choreography. Her political protests and mixed-race tours in the South triggered an FBI investigation, even as she was celebrated by dance critics and by contemporaries like Langston Hughes. ForThe Dance Claimed Me, the Schwartzes interviewed more than a hundred of Primus's family members, friends, and fellow artists, as well as other individuals to create a vivid portrayal of a life filled with passion, drama, determination, fearlessness, and brilliance.
Main Description
Pearl Primus (1919-1994) blazed onto the dance scene in 1943 with stunning works that incorporated social and racial protest into their dance aesthetic. In The Dance Claimed Me , Peggy and Murray Schwartz, friends and colleagues of Primus, offer an intimate perspective on her life and explore her influences on American culture, dance, and education. They trace Primus's path from her childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad, through her rise as an influential international dancer, an early member of the New Dance Group (whose motto was "Dance is a weapon"), and a pioneer in dance anthropology. Primus traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, and Africa, and she played an important role in presenting authentic African dance to American audiences. She engendered controversy in both her private and professional lives, marrying a white Jewish man during a time of segregation and challenging black intellectuals who opposed the "primitive" in her choreography. Her political protests and mixed-race tours in the South triggered an FBI investigation, even as she was celebrated by dance critics and by contemporaries like Langston Hughes. For The Dance Claimed Me , the Schwartzes interviewed more than a hundred of Primus's family members, friends, and fellow artists, as well as other individuals to create a vivid portrayal of a life filled with passion, drama, determination, fearlessness, and brilliance.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Pearl Primus (1919-1994) blazed onto the dance scene in 1943 with stunning works that incorporated social and racial protest into their dance aesthetic. In this text, Peggy and Murray Schwartz, friends and colleagues of Primus, offer an intimate perspective on her life and explore her influences on American culture, dance, and education.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
From Laventille to Camp Wo-Chi-Cap. 11
A Life in Dancep. 29
African Transformationsp. 69
Teaching, Traveling, and the FBIp. 99
Trinidad Communitiesp. 116
Return to Africap. 142
The PhDp. 156
The Turn to Teaching and Return to the Stagep. 169
Academic Trials and Triumphsp. 200
Transmitting the Workp. 218
Barbados: Return to the Seap. 236
Acknowledgmentsp. 249
Pearl Primus Timelinep. 253
Interviewsp. 283
A Note on Sources and Documentationp. 287
Notesp. 289
Works Citedp. 299
Indexp. 305
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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