Anna Halprin, Gaga, Ian, and the Izzies

 "It's the spirit of the person that really comes out!" 

- Anna Halprin

It's been a week of dance!

My friend and fellow Integrated Movement Studies' graduate, Ian Isles, picked me up this morning so that we could drive to Mountain Home Studio in Kentfield. We listened to some hip music I could not recognize because I'm getting to that age where I just put my iPod on repeat -- talked about the view over the Richmond bridge, and reminisced our days training in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis. The sun was shinning, but we were both fantasizing about black coffee, or mint mojito coffee to be exact. We arrived early and found ourselves a nice parking spot right by the entrance. On our way down the wooden stairs we met a really nice woman named Flow. Ian and I both, fresh out of the Laban/Movement Analysis Certification Program, couldn't help but giggle to ourselves.

Ian was in town from San Diego. I told him about a Gaga conversation on Monday with Dance Studies and Working Group (DSWG) at Cal; the guest was James Graham. A wonderful artist I had recently seen perform. I learned a lot about the process of gaga and even experience a little bit of it from the comfort of a conference room chair. My friend Clare was at the talk too, and the three of us listened attentively as James discussed his journey from sporadic dancer to eventually becoming a Certified Gaga instructor in the Bay. It was an amazing talk!

Flash-forward to the two of us standing in front of Mountain Home Studio's registration office, and taking a deep breath of fresh air before plunging ahead; both nervous and excited to be in the studio as willing participants for the first time. Anna had come to both our campuses before (UC Berkeley and UCLA), but this was the first time we had taken a trip to her studio for an actual class.

Anna Halprin's dance class started 9:30am this morning, as it does every Thursday. We moved around space, listened to our bodies, gave each other feedback, and played around with force and the power of our inner source radiating out into the extremities of our bodies and beyond. Ian and I geeked out over the use of our Laban/Bartenieff language. We gave each other instructions from Patterns of Total Body Connectivity - "Use more breath," "when you lower your head, think about your Head-Tail connectivity," and "what if you come up using hang and hollow?" …and so forth.

We moved from indoors to her famous outdoor dance deck designed by her late husband and famed architect, Lawrence Halprin. We sat on the benches outdoors and moved together with another score inspired by the nature around us. It was incredible. It has been a while since I've been open and attentive to nature -- I mean really attentive. So attentive that I could see an insect fly off a leaf from a long distance. I felt both rooted and light -- sinking and rising at the same time -- relieving some spinal stress by allowing my ribcage to spread open.

There were a lot of people today. We played, shared the space, and breathed together. I enjoyed the release in my body. Anna reminded us that it's that simple to bring awareness and release. "Just do a little everyday!" We smiled like fools because she was right, and I knew this because I could feel where I was mean to my body. I could hear it as parts cracked, parts ached, and others didn't even trust to spread. I had to guide the body with breath and imagery. The experience was liberating.

In addition to all this, Anna told the group that Parades & Changes performed at BAM/PFA Museum has won an Izzie! I was so happy for her and the Theater, Dance and Performance Studies at Cal. It was an incredible experience running in a circle alongside other community and student participants on the performance days. Congratulations to Anna Halprin; this is a well deserved award!

Click here to check out Anna Halprin's upcoming workshop this Sunday, March 23.
Click here to see more about the Izzie Awards.
To read my post written on 2/21/13 about participating in Parades & Changes click here.