I was married to the late Lawrence Halprin for 70 years. He had a profound influence on my life and works. I would like to honor him by presenting his biography of me.
Early on, Anna abandoned the modern dance developed by the American pioneers (Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman) because it was based on the personalities of those dancers. For her, dance essentially draws on primitive needs that express life forces. Her earliest background emphasized the anatomy and physiology of the human body and its relation to the forces of nature and the environment. She was able to develop her processes in nature on an outdoor dance deck I designed for her. With the proscenium arch removed, the stage presented new and different spatial relationships, and enveloped performers with the sounds and elements of nature. It has today become an international icon of creativity with nature, and since World War II drawn a cadre of brilliant dancers from around the world, including Merce Cunningham, Min Tanaka, Meredith Monk, Simone Forti, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, Eiko and Koma, along with many young new dancers. With her students she developed new sources of group creativity based on a series of workshop exercises called ‘Experiments in the Environment’. In these, as in life, the outcome emerges as a result of interactions with the environment and other group members, in a way that is flexible, intense and life-affirming.
More and more her dance has developed as with myths and rituals, in which the focus is on issues of everyday life: psychological or physical, and community as well as personal. In this sense she has reverted to the early meaning of dance in human society, which is joyful and healing as well as tragic, and based on the most primitive needs of the human condition. These dances are universal.
For this reason, Anna’s dances have plowed new deep ground which is unlike any other performer today. Dance for her is humanistic and searching, with its importance found in the process of creativity that she has developed as much as in the performance itself.
To celebrate this publication, Contredanse organizes a workshop and a meeting with Anna Halprin, which will be the first steps towards the interactive publication Anna Halprin – Dancing Life / Danser la vie, published in 2014.