Art in the 20th century can be well remembered with the great activities that were carried out by some of the great personalities as may be found in history. In San Francisco for example, there arose one artist by the name Anna Halprin who made a great debut through her artistic works and performance especially in dance. Dance is an art that involves the movements of the body parts to some form of rhythm or music and is used as a form of expression or public interaction and may be presented as a performance before a particular group of persons either for entertainment or as a religious practice. Anna Halprin was not only a dancer in her time as an artist but even became a choreographer whose dancing style became the most popular as it was later known to be a “healing dance”. This paper shall consider the above artist from San Francisco who is honored and considered as the dance artist for the 20th century1.
Anna Halprin life
Dance as an art is and has always been in performances and in telling of legends, while in certain circumstances it is used many a time in showing feelings for one of the opposite gender or in some instances used in love making. In certain communities, it is used in passing of their traditional stories from one generation to the other and in maintaining culture. In the 20th century, there was development and innovation of dance style accompanied by a freer performance. It is out of these innovations that we begin the life history of Anna Halprin who with an amazing background, was the first to perform a research and to come up with a new era of postmodern dance. She was born on the 13th of July, 1920. In coordination with several of other artists in her region, Anna helped in the initiation of the investigational talent form of art which was then branded postmodern dance and has remained to be called so to date. This form of dance called to the use of day by day movements as an applicable presentation of dance art and advocated fresh techniques of dance masterpiece. Postmodern dance acclaimed any body movement as dance and passed across the feeling that every person was a dancer be it that he has been to training or not. Although, at the beginning this form of dance was more aligned to thoughts of originality rather than the idea of advancement, it later swiftly developed to embrace the ideology of postmodernism and which led to the emergence of a ample varieties of dance styles especially from Judson Dance Theater- later to become the home of postmodern dance2.
Halprin, in coordination with her colleagues such as Robert Morris, Simone Forti, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, and John Cage worked together and came up with a community established on the ground rules of postmodern dance. She later began her own masterpiece in the 1950s that was known as the San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop. This was in a bid to offer an opportunity to the artists of her caliber to find a place of practicing their art. The realization that she could explore the capabilities of her body freely led her to the idea of creating a systematic way of movements of her body parts using kinesthetic responsiveness.
She did not stop at this point but created some other works which have received acknowledgement and acceptance by so many audiences including the Myths in the 1960’s and the Planetary Dance, 1987. The sad thing is that her life was later in 1972 diagnosed to be suffering from colon cancer which to the surprise of many did not deter her vision of making a difference. It was amazing to hear that she documented her own experiences and compiled this information to help make out her own healing process and which is to date known as The Five Stages of Healing. She later in the year 1981 applied The Five Stages of Healing to her society and came up with large community pieces. She has to date written and published several books including Dance as a Healing Art and Movement Rituals, Moving toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance3.
The most noticeable thing in the life of Anna is that at a tender age of fifteen she had already begun studying the modus operandi of Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis and, under the bearing of her long time counselor Margaret H’Doubler in 1938 she joined University of Wisconsin. This very mentor stressed on the need for individual creativity and so much encouraged them to study anatomy so as acquire through learning the most effective ways of moving. As a result, Anna deserted the stylized forms of contemporary techniques so as to come up with her own customs of making a replica of the art of daily life. It is said that Merce Cunningham had the same desire to refuse the poignant expressiveness of the up to date dance. Conversely, instead of using likelihood as a means to make movement like Cunningham did, Anna turned to inventiveness to investigate ways in which persons could make a community. Her husband, Lawrence Halprin, a scenery architect, whom she met in a learning institution, was also interested in going with her into a collaborative process of the kind she had chosen. What then happened is that after the Second World War, Lawrence’s job had demanded from him that he moves over to San Francisco for the rest of his life and this came at a time when Anna had also made up her mind that she wished to live an inventive life with a connection to the land and to the heartbeat of the common people. It is then that she finally founded the San Francisco Dancer’s workshop back in the year 1959. This was achieved with the assistance of her counterparts Simone Forti, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer and artists Robert Morrison and John Cage and its objective was that they be able to give to themselves and to many others who were of their likeness the opportunity to examine more into the explorative forms of dance so as to free themselves and tomove away from the mechanical restraint of modern dance.
She also utilized a span of about twenty years within which she came up with a working proven process that gave people the autonomy to move freely with sentimental, a technique that later became known as human potential growth and which had an objective of maintaining the connection between the sign/ non-verbal character and in finding out the use of language and physical expression.
It has and shall remain in historical books that the character Anna Halprin had and introduced amazing dances and which became the very well known form of dance healing. She shall not only be remembered but also serves as a symbol is very much irreplaceable. She is the queen behind most of the great forms of the post healing dance.
St. Denis, Ruth: 1969. an Autobiography. New York, Dance Horizons Republication
Terry, Walter. 1969. Miss Ruth “more living life” of St. Denis, , New York, Mead publications
Schlundt, Christena L. 1971. Into the mystic with Miss Ruth. London: Dance Perspectives Foundation,