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The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus
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Link to Yale University Press page

Retired 2011
Former Artistic Director of the Sankofa Dance Project: Celebrating African Roots in American Dance
Composition, Dance Education, Improvisation, Yoga; Professor of Dance

Peggy Schwartz

Peggy Schwartz received a B.A. in English from the University of Rochester, a M.S. in Education from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies in Dance and Movement Studies from Wesleyan University. Her commitment to dance in education spans a career of more than forty years. In 1965 she developed a rhythm and movement program for the Pilot Program for Head Start in Berkeley, California. From 1977-1983, she served as the founding Chairperson of the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts Dance Department, a magnet school for students grades 5-12.

In l983 Peggy joined the Five College Dance Department to develop a dance education program. Always developing new programs, the Sankofa Dance Project: Celebrating African Roots in American Dance, was a grant-funded program housed in the Dance Program and the University's Office of Outreach. Peggy taught improvisation, composition, dance education and Yoga, having been certified in Embodied Yoga.

Over the course of her career, Peggy has published, lectured, conducted workshops and consulted in dance education, curriculum design, national standards in arts education, and the work of the late icon of black dance in America, Dr. Pearl Primus. She has presented regularly at conferences of the Congress on Research in Dance, Dance and the Child International, National Dance Association, National Association of Schools of Dance, National Dance Education Organization. She was a founding member of the National Dance Education Organization and Founding Associate Editor of the Journal of Dance Education. She served as a Board member of the NDEO and, as National Representative to Dance and the Child International (daCi), was instrumental in developing a United States chapter of daCi.

In 1994 she was named Massachusetts Dance Educator of the Year and received a Presidential Citation from the National Dance Association in 1995. Peggy has taught as a guest artist at the Rubin Academy for Music and Dance in Israel, Pomona and Scripps Colleges in Claremont, California, and at New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga, New York. She served as a consultant to American Dance Legacy Institute (ADLI) on the work of Dr. Pearl Primus and the development of the Primus Etude, "Bushasche" which is part of the Repertory Etude Project.

As Chair of the Five College Dance Department, Peggy facilitated the FCDD's first National College Choreography Grant and commissioned Jawole Willa Jo Zollar to create a new work, "Walking with Pearl" based on work of the Pearl Primus. Jo Zollar has since received a Bessie Award for choreography based on the work of Primus. With her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy authored "The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus," which has been published by Yale University Press
Link to Facebook page for The Dance Claimed Me

In 2013, Professor Schwartz received the National Dance Education Organization's Lifetime Achievement Award, the most prestigious award which the NDEO confers. She continues to lecture and publish nationally and internationally on the life and legacy of Pearl Primus.

Appointed: 1983 Five College Appointment housed at Hampshire College, 1991 University of Massachusetts Amherst

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