100 Dance Treasures

Anna Halprin Menu

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.

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 in 1955 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.

Learn more in Anna Halprin, an essay by Dr. Janice L. Ross.

Anna Halprin, Photo by Ernest Braun Pictured: 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)