Anna Halprin Dies at 100; Choreographer Committed to Experimenting

Anna Halprin, a dancer and choreographer who sought to transfer past what she noticed because the constraints of recent dance, and whose experiments impressed, challenged and typically perplexed generations of dancers and audiences, died on Monday at her residence in Kentfield, Calif., in Marin County. She was 100.

The demise was confirmed by her daughter Daria.

In a profession that started within the late 1930s and took off after she moved to San Francisco within the mid-1940s, Ms. Halprin typically attracted controversy. But she additionally attracted college students, disciples and lovers fascinated by the inventive points she explored and the way in which she explored them.

Her affect as a trainer was far-reaching. Among the dancers and choreographers who studied along with her earlier than happening to profitable careers have been Meredith Monk, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown and the group of Eiko and Koma.

As a choreographer, Ms. Halprin confused improvisation, however inside structured limits. Her works included mysterious temper items like “Birds of America or Gardens Without Walls” (1960), through which stillness was as necessary as motion, and “Five Legged Stool” (1962), through which on a regular basis actions have been juxtaposed in surprising methods.

She collaborated with Bay Area poets like James Broughton and Richard Brautigan. And she later regarded for methods to contain the viewers instantly in her work, and to make social and political statements via dance.

Ms. Halprin’s San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop made a spectacular New York debut at Hunter College in 1967 with “Parades and Changes,” a choreographic cavalcade of moods and conditions with music by the digital composer Morton Subotnick. In the work’s most uncommon sequence, dancers slowly eliminated their clothes till they have been completely nude, then simply as slowly put their garments again on, solely to disrobe once more and romp with lengthy strips of crumpled-up paper, then roll into the orchestra pit.

Members of the University of California, Santa Barbara Dance Company carried out excerpts from Ms. Halprin’s “Parades and Changes” at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in 2017.Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

There had been nude dance occasions in New York earlier than, however by no means in so outstanding a spot. To forestall the potential of police intervention, newspaper dance critics, who in these days typically submitted their evaluations instantly after a efficiency, agreed this time to wait till the weekend performances have been over and the corporate had left city. (The Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace filed indecent-exposure expenses towards the troupe a month later, though no additional motion was taken.)

Critics have been typically impressed. Despite his reservations in regards to the work as an entire, Clive Barnes of The New York Times referred to as the nude scene “not only beautiful but somehow liberating as well.”

“Parades and Changes” was revived in 1997 at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., when Ms. Halprin acquired the Samuel H. Scripps award for lifetime achievement in choreography. It was one in all many honors she acquired within the later years of her profession.

She was born Ann Dorothy Schuman on July 13, 1920, in Wilmette, Ill., a Chicago suburb. She was the one daughter and youngest of three kids of Isadore Schuman, who labored in his household’s clothes enterprise and later in actual property, and Ida (Schiff) Schuman.

Ms. Halprin in 1955. Among the dancers and choreographers who studied along with her earlier than happening to profitable careers have been Meredith Monk, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown and the group of Eiko and Koma.Credit…Sam Falk/The New York Times

She danced as Ann Schuman after which, after her marriage in 1940 to Lawrence Halprin, the panorama architect and concrete designer, as Ann Halprin. She began utilizing the primary title Anna in 1972.

Fascinated by motion as a baby, Ms. Halprin was inspired by her dad and mom, who enrolled her in dance courses and even often had dance lecturers reside of their home. She attracted the eye of Doris Humphrey, one of many period’s main choreographers, however Ms. Halprin knew that her household wished her to attend school, so she enrolled within the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which provided a progressive modern-dance curriculum.

Ms. Halprin moved along with her husband to the San Francisco space in 1945, shortly after dancing on Broadway in “Sing Out, Sweet Land!,” a musical revue starring Alfred Drake and Burl Ives and choreographed by Ms. Humphrey and Charles Weidman. The couple constructed a house on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais in suburban Marin County, with a good-looking outside studio that they referred to as the Dance Deck.

“In those days,” Ms. Halprin instructed The Times in 2010, “there was not a lot occurring in San Francisco, and so it required actually discovering your personal roots, and it turned out to be a superb factor.

“There have been different artists who have been additionally looking out — musicians and painters, poets and sculptors, and designers,” she added. “There was just a great awakening in the Bay Area.”

Strolling in San Francisco someday, Ms. Halprin met Welland Lathrop, a contemporary dancer who had labored with Martha Graham. In 1946, they established the Halprin-Lathrop School and the Halprin-Lathrop Dance Company.

Ms. Halprin’s “Circle the Earth,” a piece through which viewers members take part, at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., in 1986.Credit…Jay Anderson/The New York Times

In 1955, Ms. Halprin was the one West Coast dancer invited when the American National Theater and Academy sponsored a three-week dance competition in New York. Reviewing her solo piece “The Prophetess” for The Times, John Martin wrote that it “showed her to be a dancer of genuine authority who knows how to make a dance as well as to dance it.”

She returned to California dismayed that the younger choreographers whose work she noticed in New York have been, in her view, merely imitating their elders. Determined to seek for modes of expression not beholden to the previous, she severed her affiliation with Mr. Lathrop and based the San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop.

By the time “Parades and Changes” attracted New Yorkers’ consideration in 1967, Ms. Halprin’s inventive focus was altering. She grew more and more inquisitive about dance not solely as a theatrical artwork but in addition as a way of selling psychological growth and advancing social and political causes.

Her “West/East Stereo” (often known as “Animal Ritual”), offered at the 1971 American Dance Festival in New London, Conn., resembled a remedy session, with performers partaking in typically bellicose emotional encounters. Reaction was combined. The piece was praised by Frances Alenikoff in Dance News as “a dive into the collective unconscious from which I for one emerged refreshed.” But Doris Hering wrote in Dance journal that “therapy is essentially personal” and never essentially “much fun for an audience, especially when the performers are technically mediocre.”

Ms. Halprin went on to blur the excellence between performers and spectators by creating communal rituals through which everybody current participated; amongst them was “Circle the Earth,” which enlisted the viewers as performers in what she referred to as a “peace dance.” Drawing on her expertise as a most cancers survivor, she led motion workshops for folks with most cancers and AIDS.

In 1978, Ms. Halprin and her daughter Daria, who had been one of many stars of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1970 movie “Zabriskie Point,” based the Tamalpa Institute in San Rafael, Calif., which gives workshops in movement-based arts training and remedy.

Ms. Halprin in 2014. “Life experience is the fuel for my dancing,” she as soon as stated, “and dance is the fuel for my life experience.”Credit…Drew Kelly for The New York Times

In later years Ms. Halprin, who continued to dance till she was 95, returned to creating works for the stage, lots of which addressed ageing and demise. “Intensive Care: Reflections on Death and Dying” (2000) confronted life-threatening sickness. In distinction, “The Grandfather Dance” (1994) paid affectionate tribute to her Jewish immigrant grandfather, a religiously observant man who, she recalled, might look so imposing together with his lengthy white beard that as a baby she thought he is perhaps God.

In 2009 Ms. Halprin was the topic of a documentary movie, “Breath Made Visible.” Reviewing it in The Times, Jeannette Catsoulis stated the film “portrays a woman with angels in her feet and innovation in her blood.”

Ms. Halprin’s husband died in 2009. In addition to her daughter Daria, she is survived by one other daughter, Rana, and 4 grandchildren.

Just as her work typically made little distinction between dancer and viewers, Ms. Halprin made little distinction between dance and life. “Life experience is the fuel for my dancing,” she stated in a speech at the University of California, Davis, in 2000, “and dance is the fuel for my life experience.”

Jordan Allen contributed reporting.