Credo: Anna Halprin 

Anna Halprin, a pioneer of postmodern dance, has for more than 70 years used her work to explore what is important in life. The 89-year-old founded the San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop in 1955. After being diagnosed with cancer in 1972, she wrote about her experience and healing in “The Five Stages of Healing.” A documentary about the San Rafael resident, “Breath Made Visible,” opens at the Roxie in San Francisco and the Smith Rafael in San Rafael on April 2.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?
My late husband, Lawrence Halprin. Also my family. My husband inspired me with his insightfulness, creativity and brains. He has written nine books on art and the environment, has a gallery of drawings and has left his mark around the world as a landscape architect. My mother influenced me in the peaceful ways she kept the family together and my father, my goofiness. My two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter have been the center point in my life.

Is there a “golden rule” by which you live?
Yes, keep moving — there is always more to explore.

Where or to whom do you turn to in tough times?
My second home at Sea Ranch on the northern sea coast. There, in solitude, I can listen to the soothing hypnotic ocean, smell the meadows, watch flocks of birds and walk the sandy beaches. Nature is my healer.

Where do you find inspiration?
In nature, in family, from my students in my classes, in other art forms.

Is there something about you that people would find surprising?
I’m out in the public so much. I may seem self-confident, whereas actually I am insecure, am terribly scattered and embarrassed by taking bows.

What would you most want to hear your colleagues say about you?
“She taught me how to become a dancer and live my life more fully.” This is true for my performances as well.

How and when did you become a dancer?
When I was about 5 years old, my parents would take me to visit my grandparents who lived on the west side of Chicago. When I arrived, I remember running to the Shul [Jewish orthodox prayer house] and watched my grandfather pray. He would jump up and down, throw his arms in the air, chant his prayers, hold hands with the others, and step in a circle around the altar. I thought this was wonderful. Because he had a long white beard and silky white hair, I kind of had the image that he was God and God was a dancer.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I have a project in mind. I imagine a reinvention of the City Dance. This would be a series of events that include a response to various sites throughout The City that [my husband] Larry designed including the Planetary Dance at Justin Herman Plaza.

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Michael Daboll

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