The Essence of Dr. Pearl Primus

The Essence of Dr. Pearl Primus

How she used her art form as a platform for justice and peace…

Kim Bears-Bailey and Chanon Judson are facilitators of the upcoming course, DEL Celebrating Dr. Pearl Primus’ Legacy.

Kim Bears-Bailey is Artistic Director with The Philadelphia Dance Company/PHILADANCO.

When asked, “What do you hope course participants will walk away with?” Bears-Bailey shared, “I hope participants will discover—through our conversation, interaction and hands-on experience—an understanding of Dr. Pearl Primus’ essence through her journey as a Dancer, Choreographer, Anthropologist, Humanitarian, and Spiritual Goddess. 

I hope they understand her fight for all people, and how she used her art form as a platform for justice and peace, even when it worked against her.

I hope they understand that we are because she was and is. 

But mostly—I hope they leave wanting to know more about her.”

Chanon Judson is Co-Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women


In 2004 and 2005 respectively, Urban Bush Women created the Bessie Award winning works Walking with Pearl – Africa Diaries and Walking with Pearl –  Southern Diaries. Judson was a collaborating company member for both of these works.

The Pearl Diaries were choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, in collaboration with the company as well as the resource of Pearl Primus’s field notes, journals, and restaged works led by Kim Bears-Bailey.

Judson will engage learners in an art-making process employing Pearl Primus’s legacy, writings, and artistic works as resources for research and inspiration, exploring themes of: Truth Telling, Organizing, and Soul Deep Listening and Awakening.  

Workshop participants will learn and apply Urban Bush Women’s Embodied Research and Collaborative Art-Making Methodologies to co-create original choreographic compositions. They will also learn excerpts of Urban Bush Women’s celebrated Walking with Pearl works. 
UBW Walking With Pearl...Southern Diaries Photo by Ayano Hisa (2)

Walking with Pearl –  Southern Diaries; photo by Ayano Hisa courtesy of Urban Bush Women

Of Southern Diaries, Zollar notes:

“Through a restaging of Hard Time Blues, and using the Blues music of the Mississippi Delta, UBW looks through the lens of Pearl’s famous work to the present, in an investigation of contemporary issues and ideas. Weaving Pearl’s field notes about sharecroppers in the South with current interviews, Walking with Pearl looks at how art and music sustain hope in people during difficult times, and asks the question ‘What is the blues of today?'”

Copy of Walking With Pearl...Southern Diaries

Walking with Pearl –  Southern Diaries; photo by Ayano Hisa courtesy of Urban Bush Women

In the dance, I have confided my most secret thoughts and shared the inner music of all mankind. I have danced across mountains and deserts, ancient rivers and oceans, and slipped through the boundaries of time and space. – Pearl Primus

DEL Celebrating Dr. Pearl Primus’ Legacy is an in-person course at 92NY (New York City) on November 18, 2023 from 1-5 p.m.

Sign up by November 15!