Dancing my cancer [Out of boundaries]
Out of boundaries
Production and video direction Jacqueline Caux
Based on filmed conversations and in particular on a myriad of extracts of rehearsals, performances and rare archives, this film charts the fundamental ruptures that Anna Halprin initiated in the field of dance.
The soundtrack of the film is by Pauline Oliveros and Terry Riley who both partnered with Anna Halprin at different times.
This ever-so particular form of artistic expression, which would later go on to be known as “performance”, was created in California in the second half of the 1950s, long before it spread to New York. Everyone who participated in the dawning of this movement knows that Anna Halprin is one of its key initiators. Born in 1920, it was Anna Halprin who literally broke down all the conventions that subsisted in contemporary dance by focusing her research on daily gestures and by taking the human being's anatomy, unconscious desires and sexual impulses into account. In 1957, she introduced the notion of “task” (actions to be accomplished such as getting dressed, undressed, moving about whilst carrying a very heavy object, etc.). Wearing training shoes or high-heels, she improvised in car parks, building sites, streets.
On the outdoor dance stage that her husband the architect Lawrence Halprin built for her, just below their home, near San Francisco, she enticed young artists from a variety of as yet totally unknown fields into her enchanted, crazy adventures – by galvanizing their own creativity to the extreme. Dancers like Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk, and Robert Morris (before he turned to sculpture), who went on to introduce Anna Halprin's radical innovations to New York by forming a core group in the Judson Dance Theater. Composers such as La Monte Young and Terry Riley, who she appointed as musical co-directors in 1959, and who experimented the minimal and repetitive music that they were in the process of inventing with her. Also, the plastic artist Charles Ross, the poet James Broughton and the filmmaker Stan Brakhage…
This highly-important phase, which led Anna Halprin more than ever before to consider reality in her work, also kept her at a distance from the media projectors of the city of New York: with all the artistic resources that she had at her disposal, it was her fight against cancer that she was diagnosed with in 1972 and that she relapsed with in 1975. After recovering, she began working with cancer-stricken patients and later with people suffering from AIDS. “I am not a therapist”, she insisted on specifying, “I am an artist who wishes to develop imaginative social and personal issues. For me, art means: bringing things that are imposed upon us into a creative process.”
The Californian environment reinforced Anna Halprin and offered her the opportunity to celebrate, far from any demonstrative virtuosity, the beauty of the human body's natural movement. This, coupled with her long association with illness and death, led her to create her more recent improvisations with nature such as “Returning Home” and “Season” in 2003 and “Rocking Seniors” in October 2005.
Dancing my cancer
Extrait du documentaire consacré à Anna Halprin "Out of boundaries" réalisé par Jacqueline Caux en 2004.
Dans Dancing my cancer (1975), la chorégraphe Anna Halprin affronte sa maladie devant quelques proches réunis chez elle ; il s'agit d'une lutte, d'un combat face à la radiographie de son cancer. La chorégraphe exorcise ses peurs dans une performance cherchant à conjurer sa maladie.
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
More information :
Jacqueline Caux has helped organize several festivals of modern-day music, she has made experimental short films as well as musical films that have been screened and honoured in numerous international festivals. A filmmaker and writer, she has published books of interviews held with unusual artists from the second half of the twentieth century. She has helped organize several festivals of modern-day music, she has made research programmes for France Culture, small intimate theatre pieces in the form of boxes, experimental short films as well as musical films that have been screened and honoured in numerous international festivals and museums.
Source: Jacqueline Caux's website
Out of Boundaries
Choreography : Anna Halprin
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Jacqueline Caux ; Centre national d'art et de culture, Georges Pompidou
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