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Anna Halprin

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Anna Halprin in The Prophetess 1950About

A leading California experimentalist of the 1950s and 1960s and a pioneer in the use of dance as a healing technique and a source of ritual experience,Anna Halprin (1920- ) was born in Winnetka, Illinois. She studied with Margaret H'Doubler at the University of Wisconsin, attended the School of Design at Harvard, and danced in Sing Out, Sweet Land in New York in 1945. Settling in the Bay Area, she began to teach and in1955 founded the Dancers' Workshop, an interdisciplinary group of artists and performers. Her use of improvisation, tasks, and repetition set a style for avant-garde multimedia theater on the West Coast and influenced a number of Judson choreographers, including Yvonne Rainer and Trisha Brown. Since the 1970s, when she was diagnosed with cancer and developed a"psychokinetic visualization process" to approach its treatment holistically, she has given workshops for people living with cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases. In recent decades she has moved away from training artists, concentrating instead on rituals performed by ordinary people about real life issues.

Pictured right: Anna Halprin in her work The Prophetess (1950), an early piece that drew on Halprin's interest in ritual and organic movement. (Photograph by Ernest Braun)



In this excerpt from the television documentary Lawrence and Anna Halprin: Inner Landscapes (1991), the choreographer speaks about the traditional boundaries that she and her colleagues broke, over footage from her work Hangar.


Essay by Dr. Janice L. Ross -- Selected resources