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Percival Sebastian Borde
Born: December 30, 1922
Died: August 31, 1979
Occupation: dancer, composer
Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of George Paul Borde, a veterinarian, and Augustine Francis Lambie, Borde began dancing in his 20s and soon became a director of the Little Carib Theatre in Trinidad. In 1953 noted anthropologist and dancer Pearl Primus convinced Borde to emigrate to the United States to teach at her New York school. Shortly thereafter, he and Primus were married. Borde achieved performing success with Primus' modern dance company, on television, and on Broadway. Among his solo concert performances built around ethnographic dance characterizations was the four-part 1958 program "Earth Magician," which included portrayals of an Aztec warrior, a giant Watusi, a Yoruba chief, and a Shango priest. In 1959 Borde toured Africa and performed in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Nigeria, and Liberia. He produced "Talking Drums of Africa," an education in the schools program, and served as the resident choreographer for the Negro Ensemble Company's 1969 season. Borde taught movement courses at New York University and in 1970 became a professor of theater arts and black studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton. His highly popular courses offered dance-based studies of African-Caribbean culture which emphasized the connections between dance, ritual, and everyday life. Borde's intelligent performance style and masculine stage presence helped to widen interest in concert African-American dance forms. Borde died backstage at the Perry Street Theater in New York City, immediately after performing "Impinyuza," the strutting Watusi solo he had danced for over 20 years.

-- Thomas F. DeFrantz

Lekis, Lisa. "Choreography in the Caribbeans." DANCE MAGAZINE (July 1952): 1819, 38.
Martin, John. "Borde: Artist from Trinidad in Engaging Debut." NEW YORK TIMES, October 5, 1958.

Source Citation: "Percival Sebastian Borde."ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY. 5 vols. Macmillan, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Gale Group.