Thursday 17 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · American dance pioneer Anna...

American dance pioneer Anna Halprin's often-controversial career subject of 'Breath Made Visible'

Mike Robertson May 20th, 2010

Art, in its purest form, isn't about money or fans or Facebook liking or even about making sense to anyone in particular. It's about the artist doing whatever he or she feels like to move an inner vis...

Art, in its purest form, isn't about money or fans or Facebook liking or even about making sense to anyone in particular. It's about the artist doing whatever he or she feels like to move an inner vision of reality into the outside world.

Some people paint, some people write, some people sew, and some people even macramé. There's no doubt that art is a therapeutic process that makes those people feel better. On the other hand, there's no guarantee what every artist does will make others feel the same way.

"Breath Made Visible" concerns Anna Halprin, a woman who has been expressing her own inner universe through dance for some 80 years. She says she always loved dancing "just for fun," and that when she was 5 her mother enrolled her in ballet classes. Young Anna didn't have what it took to meet the rigid strictures of classical dance, and so she was laughed out of class. Fortunately, she was living during the early days of modern dance, and was enrolled in a place where she could freestyle to her heart's content and everyone thought she was fantastic.

The documentary screens Friday and Saturday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

As a young woman, Halprin got more involved in modern and interpretive dance, eventually adopting a style that could be described as a sort of kinetic impressionism. Back in the early days, she was interested in telling more or less straight narrative tales with movement, but over time, the stories became progressively abstract, even controversial.

In an especially Jackson Pollock-esque moment, Halprin and crew got international attention by slowly undressing to Petula Clark's "Downtown." Once disrobed, the group would move on to tearing up huge swaths of butcher paper, accompanied by "In My Room" by The Beach Boys. It isn't clear whether it was the popular music that made this compelling back in the '60s or just the bewbz; one supposes it could have been either or both.

The dancing parts in "Breath Made Visible" are actually incidental, serving mostly as an expression of and a means for framing Halprin's personality. As pretentious and downright strange as her work come off at times, one has to admire the absolute sense of importance she holds for herself and her role as an artist.

As the decades go by, she dedicates herself to addressing various social ills such as racism after the Watts riots of 1965, the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic in the late '80s, and helping the elderly retain a sense of dignity and liveliness in their waning years.

Even when she's rolling around on a beach wrapped in panty hose, it's obvious that even if what she's doing makes no sense to you, it makes perfect sense to Halprin. This absolute conviction is what makes her what she claims to be, a "pure" artist, breaking every boundary she can find.
There may not be anything especially meaningful on the other side, but it's entertaining to watch her nonetheless. "Mike Robertson
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