Integrative Dancing With Anna Halprin

As we move closer to Super Bowl Sunday and to 16 years after the onset of bladder cancer in me, I want to honor one of the most important teachers who contributed to my recovery.

Anna Halprin

Anna Halprin from Marin Magazine, Tim Porter

This is integrative dancing with Anna Halprin. She offered a free class at Marin General Hospital for people with cancer and other illnesses. Some of her classes were taught at her famous Mountain Home Studio on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California.

The class combined creative arts in the form of craypa drawings on large pieces of paper with flowing dance movements.

The dance movements were never choreographer and we moved to the music she selected in any way we wished. I still have all of my drawings and have scanned many of them.

Anna Halprin has received so many awards that they are too numerous to even mention. I don’t even know which one is the most important to her, but the Isadora Duncan dance award seems like a good place to start.

In 2007, she was awarded  the Pioneer Award in the Art, Science and Soul of Healing by the California Pacific Medical Center and the Institute for Health and Healing (IHH). I was there and was invited that night to serve on the Community Council of the IHH, which I did for three years.

In 2008, there was a one woman show celebrating her work at the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts in San Francisco. I was there twice!

Each June, Anna leads the Planetary Dance on Mount Tamalpais at the foot of Muir Woods. Thousands of people participate all over the world. I’ve been there too!

She is an inspirational teacher and a wonderful teacher. She has inspired the work of Gabrielle Roth and other well-known teachers.

Marin Magazine recently interviewed Anna. The interview spanned many pages.

Integrative Dancing

She teaches what she calls, integrative dancing. Here is how she defined it:

“Integrative dancing.” What do you mean by that? Many, many years ago, before there were books, dance was a way of storytelling. Dances were performed at marriages, at harvest time and before going into battle. rising up on your toes was a way of elevating one’s self from earthly concerns. It was a very personal and expressive process and, in a way, I want to get back to that. to integrate, of course, means blending various parts into a functioning whole, and that’s what I like to do — both for myself and for others. And, within that context, dance can be transformative — meaning it can create change in appearances, in character, even in mental and physical health.

Anna Halprin is also a cancer survivor. She says,

Before cancer, I lived life for my art — after, I lived my art for my life.

In response to, “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” she said:

That’s easy; it’s the International Dance for Peace, which I created in the 1980s. It started right here on Mount Tam in response to the dreaded Trailside Killer and it’s now being done in over 46 countries.

As I sit here reading and writing about Anna, I am deeply moved by my connection with her and feel much gratitude for her presence. She has meant so much to me and my family.

If you want more information about Anna, look at the Tamalpa Institute website.

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