Breath Made Visible – A documentary about Anna Halprin
Directed by Ruedi Gerber
Zas Films 04/10 Documentary
I have watched a few of Anna Halprins pieces on youtube before watching the film above. I loved what she said in one of the youtube clips.
“Aging is like enlightenment at gunpoint. Before I had cancer, I lived my life for my art. After I had cancer, I lived my art for my life. I’ve always said dance is the breath made visible. That covers about everything because once you stop breathing and the breath is no longer visible, you stop moving.” A.Halprin
Anna Halprin is a dance legend and in this wonderful documentary about her life, she presents most of it as her 86 year old self. Born into a Jewish family in Illinois, she began to dance ballet as a child but then turned to the kind of modern dance pioneered by Isadora Duncan. Halprin’s Hasidic grandfather danced his prayers and has a formidable early impact on her thinking about the spiritual dimensions of this art form.
Through fascinating archival footage of Halprin’s extraordinary career, we are treated to bits and pieces from her performance at the Joyce Theatre at the age of 80; and amidst a list of works was her creation of “Seniors Rocking,” a dance piece involving people between the ages of 65 and 100 performing in rocking chairs; her “Circle of Earth,” a contemporary community dance ritual; and her “Intensive Care,” a work revolving around the process of death and dying.
Through all of these experiments and rituals, Halprin has expressed her total dedication to the integration of art with life. And she has fulfilled her dream of making sense out of the mysteries of our bodies, community, nature, and the multiple meanings and challenges of the world in which we live.
“As I sit on the bench overlooking my dance deck, a flood of questions arise. What next? Where am I going? What is my work now that I am eighty-seven? What do elders in other cultures do? Teach the young, heal the sick, care for the land, hold the rituals, speak with the ancestors, and maintain the family. I take all these actions, and call upon the spirits, wherever they may be, whatever that might mean, and however they may appear, to lead me further into this evolution of dance to which I have committed my life. I continue to believe in the shining potential set forth by all of this work, in its evolution from rebellion to expansion to community to healing and back again to the natural world.
I understand there is also a film called “Seniors Rocking”by Ruedi Gerber which we must also see!