Editor’s Note: As a way to further contribute to the 95 Rituals project that offers a variety of opportunities to pay tribute to the work of Anna Halprin, In Dance reached out to a select group of Halprin’s collaborators, friends and family and asked if they could share 95 words about what she has meant to each of their lives and artistic work.
95 words for 95 years.
Impossible, of course.
Ninety-five thousand words didn’t
cover the first 87 years of your life
when I built a net of ten chapters to
try to put your remarkable life and art
between the two covers of a book.
So I compress my remaining 44 words
now into three for each epoch of
your life/art/processes – your recipes
developed over a lifetime of turning
life into art.
Miss H’Doubler & Larry
Emotions are Facts
Illness as Performance
—Janice Ross, Faculty Director, ITALIC Professor, Dept. of Theatre and Performance Studies, Stanford University
Anna is a friend, a generous performer, a gifted teacher, an instigator of movement revolutions that are of the moment—she has not been afraid to tackle difficult issues of our time—for peace and healing. She inspires me to question, to believe in and desire the impossible. Her life’s work is imbedded in the environment, and on stages made and found, with movement scores that are lovingly shaped by a desire for change. Anna motivates me to imagine movement in the world as boundless, and my dance with her is imbedded in my heart.
—Wayne Hazzard, Executive Director, Dancers’ Group
I’ve known tricksters,
sly harbingers of joy
but none like Rabbit
I’ve known healers + dealers
Known to Dance off Dis Ease
But none like Wish Doctor
I’ve known Bohos
Primordial line of Mad Hatters
But none who tip + tilt like
I’ve seen scores of dance
+ even more dancers
Makers making for making’s sake
But not quite enough for
I’ve known Queens
+ divas + dragons
but none like Queen
—Joël Barraquiel Tan, Writer and Community Engagement, YBCA
What Anna taught me:
-Ideas at the start of a project often fail. Fruitful ideas blossom from watching, listening and then responding to those initial failures.
-Intimacy is as important as spectacle, tiny and grand can be the same thing, and frankness is a virtue.
-An audience should not always have to watch what’s onstage.
-There is a difference between raising one’s arm in a small room versus raising one’s arm outside.
-Generosity, curiosity, optimism, honesty, and laughter: these create a vibrant creative atmosphere.
-Live in the unknown as often as possible. Appreciate being lost.
—Kegan Marling, Photographer
She beats a drum so that rhythm is echoed in the way every limb and cell
moves. She dances outdoors, to echo the movement of tree, stone, bird,
wind, ocean, deer. She makes breathing a dance. She took her leotard off
and danced the way the body was born to dance. She wants every feeling,
story, every part of the body to dance. She wants an em- bodied democracy!
She opens the doors of dance, and keeps them open to everyone.
Anna calls out for the echo of everything human in the way we move.
—Daria Halprin, dariahalprin.org
Everyone has a morning routine. Many call it their morning ritual. Athletes talk about a pregame ritual, or is it a superstition. New Agers appropriate rituals from everywhere. Once, in the dark, at a Karuk sweat in Marin someone called out “No Om-ing” someone else farted and the built-up tension was released. Today we find ourselves searching for rituals with meaning, and equally for the meaning of ritual. Ideally a ritual helps us unite body, mind, and spirit. Practiced respectfully, and together, it can bring us all to a deeper understanding than we might achieve by other means. And yet it’s really a mystery.
—Larry Reed, Artistic Director, Shadowlight Productions
A score for you, in ninety five
words, that is something
like my time with Anna.
TAKE YOUR HANDS, YOUR FEET,
YOUR NOSE, YOUR HIPSANKLESSPINES
AND ALL THE IN-BETWEENS.
STAND listening to trees
THE SMELL OF REDWOODS, DIRT,
someone’s weight pushing yours
SUN ON YOUR EYELIDS
BREEZE ON YOUR LIPS
A POUNDING HEART
AND A BIT OF SWEAT IN YOUR PITS
KNOW YOUR INTENTION.
THIS IS NOT JUST A DANCE.
—Ian Heisters, Dance/Installation Artist
In 2013, Anna re-presented her dance, Parades and Changes, at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The dance was first performed at BAM/PFA on the occasion of the opening of the Bancroft Way building designed by Mario Ciampi. To have Anna offer this work again, so many decades later and just before our departure to BAM/PFA’s new downtown home was a tremendously beautiful experience for everyone. Anna is the heart of the Bay Area. Her inspiration to others is so immense and powerful. She just keeps on dancing. We love Anna Halprin!
—Lawrence Rinder, Director, UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)
“Wheeeee” escapes from Theresa Wong as she, with childlike ease, hops along, breaking the reticence of the cast for Parades and Changes, all naked, ready to rehearse, but feeling the bareness of nakedness. Just moments before, feeling the hesitation among the cast to undress, Anna says with exasperation “Oh, come on…!”
Cut to: the cast party for Spirit of Place, in honor of Larry Halprin. He is sitting in the living room. Anna begins a sexy dance, teasingly advancing on him, teaching all assembled what it means to move your hips. Anna Halprin, ice-breaker sensei.
—Shinichi Iova-Koga, Director, inkBoat
1963, invited by Ann to work with the company, I went to see them dance. It began; two men at a table arguing; suddenly, suitcase in hand, Ann(a) erupted through the rear door, “what’s going on here?” as she skip-hopped her way down to the stage on the armrests between the seats and jumped onto the stage engaging the other two. What a powerhouse she was, remained and still at 95 is! It began that day, our working together for so many years; am so happy to write these 95 words for her 95th; remembering.