Anna Halprin, Morton Subotnick, Anne Collod, and Guests

parades & changes, reenactment

Dance Theater Workshop, New York City, November 18–21, 2009

A Review

In the 1960s the Nikolais Company was invited to attend a rehearsal at Anna Halprin’s studio in San Francisco. We gathered around the marvelous outdoor dance deck and the work began. It took maybe 45 minutes (or so it seems in memory) for the company starting at one end of the deck to slither belly-wise, all the while shedding clothing, and ending buck-nekked at the other.

This was the era of revolt when anything (and I mean anything) offered must be accepted as art. Whatever is just is. And that I remember the odor of the trees that surrounded the deck and the unending of time/continuum speaks for the imprint it made on me. So—how could I not see this reenactment?

This evening opened with Mr. Subotnick conducting from the apron a recitative by performers, scattered in the audience, who finally gathered on stage. I remember absolutely nothing of the words; they were just tonal notes arranged for my ears.

Then the remembered undressing began, and was repeated twice. Then the stage transformed. The sky cloth reshaped. Variously sized risers were placed on stage, which became foot drums. Rolls of butcher paper were draped over the dancers and moved in changing color. Likewise net cloth. Finally oodles of stuff—balloons and streamers—were then used to costume two of the dancers who wandered out of the theater and onto the street. And we were treated to the live video of them and the passersby.

The naked slither of 1960s morphed into a glorious 2009 multimedia show! From its audience beginning to its street ending I felt the constant crescendo of image. And I loved every minute of it.

What a grand summation of Anna Halprin’s work. She must feel gratification and affirmation. And pride in the fact that Anne Collod has taken her work and given it visibility for 2010.

An after note: There were some mutterings in the audience about the “French” taste to the work, citing some of the use of light and material. Yes?? Decoufle was one of Collod’s early teachers, and he was a student of Nikolais’s at CNDC/Angers. But art is simply human; it need not be given nationality. If we put boundaries aside, we will know how large and wonderful our world really is.

—Ruth E. Grauert, November 21 , 2009