Anna Halprin and Janice Ross talk about Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance.
Halprin pioneered post-modern dance, creating work that opened the door to experimentation in theater, music and performance art.
Anna Halprin is highly regarded in the Bay Area and international dance scenes as a pioneer in combining improvisation, audience participation, environmental/street theater, and community-based performance in her work.
Her focus on dance as a healing art can be dated to 1972, when she diagnosed her own cancer and was able to survive through a combination of surgery, conventional medical therapies, and unconventional visualization processes. While doing cancer work at the Creighten Institute she formed the STEPS theater program, which was adapted to meet the needs of people facing HIV infection. This work focused on a process of psycho-kinetic visualization to improve the functionality of compromised immune systems.
A year later, she formed separate theater groups for men and women with AIDS, called respectively Positive Motion and Women with Wings. In 1989, more than 100 members of these groups, and friends, were featured in Circle the Earth, an annual ritual that Halprin had created a decade earlier, now reconceived in relation to HIV/AIDS.
Janice Ross, Associate Professor (teaching), Drama Department, Stanford University, has a BA from UC Berkeley and MA and PhD degrees from Stanford. Her books include Moving Lessons: The Beginning of Dance in American Education (University of Wisconsin Press 2000), Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance (University of California Press 2007), and San Francisco Ballet: An American Voice in Ballet (Chronicle Books 2007).