© Anna Halprin, Dance Deck

As a part of our partnership with Maison de la Danse, we are presenting the video collection OUTDOOR DANCES, available via the platform, to which we will have access for one year. You will see the works of some of the pioneers in the world of contemporary dance such as: 

Anna Halprin (USA); Trisha Brown (USA); Thierry De Mey (BELGIUM); Romeo Castellucci (ITALY); Julie Desprairies (FRANCE); Foofwa d’Imobilité (SWITZERLAND); Kitsou Dubois (FRANCE).



During different periods of the 20th century, alternative movements moved dance away from the stage and the theatre to rediscover the body, to reintroduce ritual, organic dance in the Monte Verità community, dance that was highly-personal and inspired by everyday realities for the members of the Judson Dance Theater, dance that was urban and responsive to its environment at the turn of the 21st century.

The Monte Verità Community – Nicholas Kaufmann, Wilhelm Prager

At the beginning of the 20th century, artists and thinkers of all persuasions joined together to seek out new avenues of creation and of life in reaction to the codes and conventions of the then bourgeois society.

Just imagine, a community perched in the Swiss-Italian mountains where the psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, the painter Paul Klee, the writers Hermann Hesse and James Joyce, the dancers Rudolf Laban, Mary Wigman, Isadora Duncan and Suzanne Perrottet would meet. In this community that focused on naturism, spiritualism, vegetarianism and a myriad of utopian ideals, the developments of psychoanalysis opened the doors of individuation. Mary Wigman created her “Danses extatiques” (Ecstasy Dances) and her well-known “Danse de la sorcière” (Witch Dance) at Monte Verità; it was there in the community that she developed her improvisation work.

Ways to strength and beauty

(German: Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit) is a 1925 Ufa-Kulturfilmabteilung of Weimar Germany directed by Nicholas Kaufmann and Wilhelm Prager.

The action was an idealized, beautiful symphony to health and beauty in conformity with nature. The film offered a contrast to the rather hopeless living in the city of Berlin and other large cities of Germany during the twenties and became an immediate success quite from the beginning. Finally it became the most popular and most important German kulturfilm of this period. The film is best known as the first film to feature Leni Riefenstahl as one of the nude dancers in a tasteful ballet


ways to strenght and beauty
© Ways to strength and beauty

Watch the video: 

Dancing my cancer –  Anna Halprin

My lunch with Anna 

Ever since she started out back in the 1940s, Anna Halprin has always quested after dance that corresponds to her personally, where the movements would be the most faithful messengers of her reflection, echoing her personality. She aims to return to the essence of movement, the one that existed before the spectacular and codified dance performed in theatres. She starts off with everyday movements that she calls “tasks” and illustrates them through improvisation scenarios, which she proposes to her work groups. Her trust in the power of the body, which she experienced on a personal level when she had to fight against her uterine cancer, led her to develop a curative approach, which she called “Healing Dance”.

In North Carolina, with her architect husband, she created a house made of wood that comprised a dance stage overlooking nature. The dance that she developed over the course of her workshops, encounters and reflection, lives and breathes in this location and stretches right across the country to the beaches of the Pacific and to the surrounding cascades.

Anna Halprin Anna and her husband Larry
© Anna Halprin / Anna and her husband Larry

Defying traditional notions of dance, Anna has extended its boundaries to address social issues, build community, foster both physical and emotional healing, and connect people to nature. In response to the racial unrest of the 1960s, she brought together a group of all-black and a group of all-white dancers in a collaborative performance, Ceremony of Us. She then formed the first multiracial dance company and increasingly focused on social justice themes. When she was diagnosed with cancer in the early 1970s, she used dance as part of her healing process and subsequently created innovative dance programs for cancer and AIDS patients.

With her husband, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, Anna developed methods of generating collective creativity. During the late 1960s and early 70s, they led a series of workshops called “Experiments in the Environment,” bringing dancers, architects, and other artists together and exploring group creativity in relation to awareness of the environment, in both rural and urban settings. Increasingly, Anna’s performances moved out of the theater and into the community, helping people address social and emotional concerns.

Over her long career Anna has created more than 150 dance theater works and written three books. Many of her dances have grown out of her life experiences. After her husband faced a life-threatening crisis, for instance, she developed the performance Intensive Care: Reflections on Death and Dying (2000). Facing her own aging, she worked with older people in her community to evolve “Seniors Rocking” (2005), performed by over 50 elders outdoors in rocking chairs. To honor the memory of her husband, she created a trilogy, including “Spirit of Place”, a site-specific work in an outdoor theater space he had designed (performed in 2009, shortly before his death). In 2013 she revisited her groundbreaking “Parades and Changes” (1965), retaining its essence but adding new sections to heighten its relevance for today’s world.

Anna Halprin _Prophets_
© Anna Halprin / "Prophets"

Watch the video here: 

Additional information: 


The second part of the collection OUTDOOR DANCES is coming soon.