About Anna Halprin: Breath Made Visible
I have followed postmodern dance pioneer, Anna Halprin, in very small doses over a long span and this documentary about her life did not change my impressions. I find her work underwhelming except for a few astonishing images, her integrity and longevity, and the first film piece of hers I saw when I was a student at Bennington College in 1972. I have remembered “Parades & Changes” after one viewing for nearly 30 years. That says much for its impact on me — the slow, gentle way the dancers removed their clothes to Petula Clark’s “Downtown”; the sound of the tearing paper. So simple and expansive. It’s the dance that drew me back to her. It is one example among many of slow, conscious movement that continues to contribute to my own performance.
The documentary is lovely. To see any dancer’s life so affectionately, patiently, and fully framed on film is a blessing. Her activism reminded how front-and-center dance stood in the counter-culture movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Dance was so valued, so vibrant; it truly became a full-fledged art. I still look around at our current dance climate and say “what happened?”
I wished there had been more of her pale chalk-caked body sitting in the crook of the embankment stroking her cheek with dark mud. More of that. And of her wrapped in fabric rolled by the ocean waves. More of that. Less biographical interview and more of her body, her dance…