Anna Halprin, photo by Pak Han

What do Martha Graham, Ninette de Valois, Katherine Dunham, Freddie Franklin, Kazuo Ohno and now Anna Halprin have in common?

They all stayed active in dance past the age of 95.

Next week the Dancers’ Group celebrates visionary Anna Halprin’s birthday with a free performance series called 95 RITUALS. The series, from July 7 to 11 in San Francisco, is the collective mastermind of the international physical theater group—and 2008 “25 to Watch”—inkBoat.

“Anna is the stone, the rock. This rock drops into the pool and we’re all the little ripples that move out from the impact of the rock on the surface of the water.” —Shinichi Iova-Koga, artistic director of inkBOAT

 

inkBoat, photo courtesy inkBoat

Among those thousands of little ripples, 95 have contributed scores for this event. (I’m happy to say that I am one of them.) What are scores in dance? The idea initially came from composer Morton Subotnick, who collaborated with Halprin on her historic Parades and Changes in the ’60s.  It’s a structure that can be as vague or precise as you want to make it. The instructions can be written or spoken, long and elaborate or short and simple. Below is an example of a score for 95 RITUALS; this one is contributed by the Bay Area’s wildman performance artist Keith Hennessy.

Keith Hennessy's contribution to 95 Rituals

Meredith Monk, who studied with Halprin long ago, said, “I thought her scoring was brilliant, how she took one concept and stuck with it.” (Janice Ross’ book: Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance.

One of the concepts Halprin stuck with is the annual Planetary Dance, which she’s been leading for 35 years. This exuberant ritual combines her love of nature, her commitment to community and her political activism. It’s been a gateway to her work for many people.

95 RITUALS will be a free, site-specific series for the ages. Tuesday–Saturday, July 7–11 at Hyde Street Pier at Fisherman’s Wharf, 2905 Hyde Street, San Francisco. Click here for more info.

Accompanying this series is a July 9th screening of Ruedi Gerber’s latest documentary, Journey in Sensuality—Anna Halprin and Rodin, followed by a Q&A with Anna and the filmmaker. (I loved his first film on her, Breath Made Visible.) For more info, click here or here.

Anna Halprin is a performer, choreographer, and educator who contributed to the pioneering of  postmodern dance as well as somatic practices. 95 RITUALS is bound to be momentous.