Anna Dorothy Halprin (born Anna Schuman on 13 July 1920) helped pioneer the experimental art form known as postmodern dance and referred to herself as the breaker of modern dance. Halprin, along with her contemporaries such as Trisha Brown, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, John Cage, and Robert Morris, collaborated and built a community based around the fundamentals of post-modern dance. In the 1950s, she established the San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop to give artists like her a place to practice their art. Being able to freely explore the capabilities of her own body, she created a systematic way of moving using kinesthetic awareness. Many of her works since have been based on scores, including Planetary Dance, 1987, and Myths in the 1960s which gave a score to the audience, making them performers as well.
Halprin was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 1972. In order to understand her ailment, she documented her own experiences and compiled the information to make her own healing process called The Five Stages of Healing. In 1981, she applied The Five Stages of Healing to her community and developed large community pieces. Halprin stated «I believe if more of us could contact the natural world in a directly experiential way, this would alter the way we treat our environment, ourselves, and one another.» Halprin has written books including: Movement Rituals, Moving Toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance and Dance as a Healing Art. She currently does research in connection with the Tamalpa Institute, based in Marin County, California, which she founded with her daughter, Daria Halprin, in 1978.
She was the co-creator with her husband, the late landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, of the RSVP Cycles, a creative methodology that can be applied broadly across all disciplines. A documentary film about her life and art, Breath Made Visible directed by Ruedi Gerber, premiered in 2010.
«Halprin continues to be sought after as a teacher because of her ability to lead dancers gently into new territory for their own choreographic invention.»