Anna Halprin, a pioneer in post-modern
dance and founder of the San Francisco Dancers' Workshop, is a seminal figure
in the world of dance and New Theater. Anna is a cancer survivor. She went through
therapy and was clear for three years when it appeared again. She vowed at that
time that if she could beat the disease she would use dance to benefit the community.
Anna co-founded the Tamalpa Institute where dance is used as a healing and transformative
art. Anna was awarded for her lifetime achievement as a dancer by both The Association
of Theater Movement Educators (in 2005) and by the Samuel H. Scripps/American
Dance Festival (in 1997). At the time I photographed Anna for this painting in
2006, she was 87. Anna is the second generation of Jewish immigrants who fled
Eastern Europe at the turn of the century.
I saw Anna's life like the breath
of the universe, inhaling the life force and exhaling the creative force. In keeping
with the exhibit's theme and using the universe as the metaphor for the unlimited
potential of the human spirit, I placed her figure in what is called a stellar
breeze from the Large Magellanic Cloud found in the Milky Way. Here, she is orchestrating
a dance that draws diverse people to join each other and add their unique artistic
and creative gifts. "A portrait of Halprin's life would show a true search
for place and meaning - for the individual and the community - in the body, in
the family and in the world"* Rachel Kaplan Moving Towards Life - Five
Decades of Transformational Dance.