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When the book is about Pearl Primus, the book-launch party can’t be dull. Celebrating the release of The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus, by Peggy and Murray Schwartz, the 92nd Street Y presents an afternoon of dancing, reading, and book-signing on April 29. Part of the Y’s free Fridays at Noon series, the program includes four rousing Primus works: Negro Speaks of Rivers, Strange Fruit, Hard Time Blues, and Bushasche, performed by students from the University of Massachussets—Amherst and other special guests.
The event is one of many in the “Sankofa Dance Project,” an ongoing tribute to African roots in American dance organized by the UMass dance program, where Peggy Schwartz is on faculty. The project continues next fall with an exhibit at UMass of the Barbara Morgan Photographic Collection. These 38 photos by the legendary dance photographer, donated to the university in 2009 by Morgan’s relatives, include historic images of Primus and her contemporaries from the early days of American modern dance. See www.92Y.org and www.umass.edu.
Notes & News
A new season of CLASS is upon us. The forward-thinking teaching series, now in its third year, culls its faculty from a younger generation of New York dance and performance artists, with consideration for the typical dancer’s bank account (classes are just $10; longer workshops are $15). Offerings this month include somatic-centered ballet with Elizabeth Giron; mind-expanding movement explorations with Benn Rasmussen; and something “ecstatic” and “radical” that only Jen Rosenblit can stir up. Much more in May and June, too. See www.classclassclass.org.
The Royal Ballet School hosts a conference in honor of its founder, “Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist,” looking closely at de Valois’ contributions to British culture as a director, choreographer, and educator. Highlights include a performance of her 1934 dance-drama The King of the Great Clock Tower, fully reconstructed; discussions led by critics Clement Crisp and Alastair Macaulay; and the premiere of a documentary film about her. April 1–3. See www.royal-ballet-school.org.uk/dvconference.
National Dance Week is April 22–May 1! Check out www.nationaldanceweek.org to find exciting events in your area.
Photo by Barbara Morgan, courtesy UMass