The evo­lu­tion of move­ment

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Michael Wade Simp­son For The New Mex­i­can

Idoc­u­men­tary, not rated, Anna Hal­prin saved my life. I found my way to her dance space — a stu­dio and deck on a red­wood-clogged hill­side be­low her house in Marin County, Cal­i­for­nia — af­ter mov­ing to San Fran­cisco at the age of 39, when I dis­cov­ered I was too old to start over in a new city as a pro­fes­sional dancer. On Tues­day nights, for sev­eral years, Hal­prin gave me a space to grieve the end of my ca­reer in a way that was or­ganic and pro­found — through move­ment. She was in her 80s.

In this new doc­u­men­tary about Hal­prin, Swiss filmmaker Ruedi Ger­ber bril­liantly cap­tures the essence of what Hal­prin dis­cov­ered as an artist (and what she gave to me) — that dance is not just a per­form­ing art but is, or can be, a trans­for­ma­tive act. The Tues­day-night class I at­tended dur­ing those dif­fi­cult years was called Move­ment Rit­ual.

As a jour­nal­ist, I fol­lowed Hal­prin with her com­pany on a trek to Paris, in 2004, where she was booked at the Cen­tre Ge­orges Pom­pi­dou. This en­gage­ment is doc­u­mented in the film, as are per­for­mances given by Hal­prin through the seven decades in which she has been danc­ing pro­fes­sion­ally. It seemed ironic that her touchy-feely ex­pe­ri­en­tial work was fi­nally get­ting the at­ten­tion that had been given for decades by the Euro­pean art cognoscenti to the more rig­or­ously ab­stract and tech­ni­cal work of New York­based mod­ern dance artists such as Merce Cunningham. In fact, Cunningham once worked with Hal­prin. And many of the lead­ing chore­og­ra­phers in New York, such as Trisha Brown, Mered­ith

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