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*Percival Borde was born on this date in 1922. He was an Afro Caribbean dancer-choreographer, educator, and scholar.
From the Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago, Percival Sebastian Borde was the son of veterinarians George Paul Borde and Augustine Francis Lambie. He was raised in Trinidad and attended school at the Queen Royal College. In his early career, he began studying traditional Afro Caribbean culture and movement while dancing with the Little Carib Dance Theater.
While working as a director for the Little Carib, he met dancer, choreographer, and anthropologist Pearl Primus. They both did research as well as collaborated on many projects. Through their work, they began to form a relationship, as well as a partnership, which resulted in them getting married soon after they met. He then immigrated to the United States, continued working on his craft, and joined the Pearl Primus dance company. While with the company, he could create and dance in various works. Borde was also able to tour throughout Europe with the Primus company. In 1958 Borde was able to create his self-named dance company and bring them to premiere work at the St Marks Playhouse in New York City.
The company made its debut on September 23rd, 1958. It was in this company that Percival was able to perform his works, as well as works created for him by Primus. Less than a year after the premiere of the company, in 1959, Pearl and Percival combined their two companies creating the Border Primus dance company. Pulling from his roots, the majority of his work focused on Afro Caribbean culture. He used ethnographic characterizations of several archetypes, specifically in African American culture. One of his most popular works titled “Earth Magician” includes stereotypes of warriors and chiefs of multiple cultures, such as the Aztecs, Watusi, and Yoruba people.
These dances were very well received by the public as well as in the dance world. He was able to both create and advance in these works throughout his career, allowing his research to inform his movement, making it significantly more authentic. Borde was able to obtain a master’s degree at New York University. He was able to teach there at Columbia University and SUNY Binghamton University. At Binghamton, he was an associate professor of black studies and theater arts. He was also able to offer courses in afro Caribbean dance. These courses blended the concepts of dance concerning everyday life and ritual.
Borde, who created many important works in modern dance in the mid-20th century, died of a heart attack on August 1st, 1979, at the age of 57. His place of death was the Perry Street Theater in New York City following a performance of “Impinyuza,” a piece he has danced for over two decades. This piece was based on the tribal dance of the Watusi Warriors. He left behind his two children, Onwin and Cheryl Borde, as well as his wife, Pearl Primus.