Pearl Primus, Omowale, Child Returned Home Film Premiere, Live Performance of Michael Row Your Boat and a Panel Discussion - 92Y, New York

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Harkness Presents

Pearl Primus, Omowale, Child Returned Home

Film Premiere, Live Performance with the Something Positive Dance Company, and Panel Discussion with Peggy and Murray Schwartz, Stan Sherer, Paul Dennis (moderator), Mary Waithe, Ninoska M’bewe Escobar
Pearl Primus

Pearl Primus leaped into the dance scene in 1943 with stunning dances that incorporated social and racial protest.

In this premiere of their film Pearl Primus, Omowale, Child Returned Home, director Stan Sherer and his collaborators, Primus’s biographers Peggy and Murray Schwartz, offer an intimate perspective on her life and explore her influences on dance and culture in the United States and in Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, Africa, and beyond.

The film features photos and rare footage of Primus dancing and teaching throughout the world: on an African field, at Paul Robeson’s 40th birthday party, working with the Watusi dancers of Rwanda, and in performance. Primus is celebrated for introducing a repertory of African dances in the United States. Primus brilliantly transposed to the concert stage, modern dance/protest pieces as well as African rituals, including her signature piece Fanga and her husband Percival Borde dancing Impinyuza. Renowned drummers Alphonse Cimber, John (“Tunisi”) Davis and Onwin Borde, also make an appearance, and clips of the Schwartzes’ interviews with Joe Nash, Donald Washington, and Mary Waithe.

This film premiere includes live performance of Michael Row Your Boat performed by Something Positive Dance Company, a Brooklyn-based African Caribbean performing arts organization dedicated to the art and culture of the African Diaspora, directed by Michael Manswell. This program features 10 dancers, and singers and musicians. Michael Row Your Boat was Primus’ response to the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing. The panel includes Paul Dennis (moderator), Peggy Schwartz, Murray Schwartz, Stan Sherer, Mary Waithe, Ninoska M’bewe Escobar, and Michael Manswell.

Event directed by Paul Dennis.

Pearl Primus

Pearl Primus transformed the landscape of American and African dance in many ways …

Peggy Schwartz

Peggy Schwartz’s career spans more than forty years. She developed a rhythm and movement program for the Pilot Program for Head Start in Berkeley, California (1960s) …

Murray M. Schwartz

Murray M. Schwartz received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 and has since then been a faculty member at SUNY/Buffalo, UMass/Amherst …

Stan Sherer

Stan Sherer has published five books of photographs, including Long Life to Your Children! A portrait of High Albania and Founding Farms

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis is an Associate Professor at UMass Amherst and the Five College Dance, he is a former member of José Limón Dance Company …

Michael Manswell

Michael Manswell, Artistic Director, Something Positive Inc, teaching artist, choreographer, and singer began as a storyteller at arts festivals in his native Trinidad & Tobago …

Mary Waithe

Mary Waithe began her dance career with Dr. Pearl Primus which included African and Afro-Caribbean dance …

Ninoska M’bewe Escobar

Ninoska M’bewe Escobar, PhD, specializes in Black diasporic theatre, dance, and performance and was a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Scholar at Amherst College …

Something Positive, Inc.

Something Positive, Inc. founded by Cheryl Byron, is a performing arts and education organization dedicated to the art and culture of the African Diaspora and its cross-cultural influences …