“one of the most important and original thinkers in performance” — Richard Schechner
Since the late 1930s Anna Halprin has been creating revolutionary directions for dance, inspiring artists in all fields. Richard Schechner, editor of TDR: The Drama Review, calls her “one of the most important and original thinkers in performance.” Merce Cunningham said, “What’s she’s done … is a very strong part of dance history.” 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. She also collaborated with such innovative musicians as Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, Morton Subotnik, and Luciano Berio, as well as poets Richard Brautigan, James Broughton, and Michael McClure. Among the many other important artists who have studied with her are Robert Morris, Chip Lord, Meredith Monk, Eiko and Koma, Wanda Coleman, Janine Antoni, Carrie Mae Weems, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dohee Lee, and Dana and Shinichi Iova-Koga.
Dancing my cancer (1975)
In 1971, Halprin was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her colon; this sudden shift in her life inspired her to investigate and create associations to make a personal ritual that helped her healing process. She used the investigative and therapeutic tools she had learned from Fritz Perls in order to understand and duplicate the psychological behaviors put into performances. The disease also inspired her to release her emotions through dance in pieces such as “Darkside Dance”. Afterwards, she ceased to perform publicly. Her quest for healing encouraged the community around her and, with her daughter in 1978, she co-founded the Tamalpa Institute. Together, they created a non-profit research and educational arm of the San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop that offers training in a creative process integrating psychology, body therapies, and education with dance, art, and drama, as a path toward healing and resolving social conflict.