Since the late 1930s Anna Halprin has been creating revolutionary directions for dance, inspiring artists in all fields. Through her students Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, and Simone Forti, Anna strongly influenced New York’s Judson Dance Theater, one of the seedbeds of postmodern dance. Defying traditional notions of dance, Anna has extended its boundaries to address social issues, build community, foster both physical and emotional healing, and connect people to nature. In response to the racial unrest of the 1960s, she brought together a group of all-black and a group of all-white dancers in a collaborative performance, Ceremony of Us. She then formed the first multiracial dance company and increasingly focused on social justice themes. When she was diagnosed with cancer in the early 1970s, she used dance as part of her healing process and subsequently created innovative dance programs for cancer and AIDS patients.
With her husband, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, Anna developed methods of generating collective creativity. During the late 1960s and early 70s, they led a series of workshops called “Experiments in the Environment,” bringing dancers, architects, and other artists together and exploring group creativity in relation to awareness of the environment, in both rural and urban settings. Increasingly, Anna’s performances moved out of the theater and into the community, helping people address social and emotional concerns.
Over her long career Anna has created more than 150 dance theater works and written three books. Many of her dances have grown out of her life experiences. After her husband faced a life-threatening crisis, for instance, she developed the performance Intensive Care: Reflections on Death and Dying (2000). Facing her own aging, she worked with older people in her community to evolve "Seniors Rocking" (2005), performed by over 50 elders outdoors in rocking chairs. To honor the memory of her husband, she created a trilogy, including "Spirit of Place", a site-specific work in an outdoor theater space he had designed (performed in 2009, shortly before his death). In 2013 she revisited her groundbreaking "Parades and Changes" (1965), retaining its essence but adding new sections to heighten its relevance for today’s world.
Source: Anna Halprin 's website
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