ANNA HALPRIN & ANNE COLLOD: "PARADES AND CHANGES, REPLAYS"
AT TANZQUARTIER WIEN (1)
By Michikazu Matsune
On a spring
day, I was asked if I would be interested in joining a performance piece. It
was the re-make of a performance by the now 88 year-old American choreographer
Anna Halprin whose name I had only heard or read in a dance history book or so.
The original work titled “Parades &
Changes” was performed from 1965 to 1967 by a group of people led by Halprin
in twelve venues and variations. The re-make project was directed by Anne
Collod from France, whom I had not known before, and who did a thorough
research on Halprin's work, also spending time with Halprin herself over the
last few years. The re-make piece was named “parades & changes, replays (2008)”. A variation of this re-make project would be
staged at TQW (Tanzquartier Vienna) this coming Autumn, and one of the curators
and dramaturges of the house asked me if I would like to participate in it as a
guest performer. With a smile on her face, she said: “I am looking for someone
who dares to be totally naked. So I thought of you.” It took me a few moments
before I could react. There is a pXXXs hanging down between my legs, and it is
not especially of the sort that could be proudly presented to an audience. I
nicely smiled back at her and said: “Let me think about it for a few days ... and
meanwhile maybe you can send me the concept sheets.”
The next day I
received a mail from her assistant, which started with “Dear Michi,” and ended
with “... I assume you've heard that there will be scenes with nudity on stage.
Best wishes ...” He warned me.
Attached to the
mail was the
concept by Anne Collod. I looked through it, didn't read it carefully, went
over it a few times. One sentence caught my attention: it read “for twenty
years the performance was forbidden in the United States, censored because of
I agreed to do
it because (one of the strongest reasons) the rehearsals were to take only
three days. Three days rehearsal and two nights of shows. I wouldn't waste too
much time even if the piece did not work for me. And I would be paid - not
much, but okay. It might even be fun to join the group as one of the six
performers. Yet one reason why I hesitated a lot and sometimes regretted my
decision to join was the attached photograph. It just looked so uninteresting,
say bad, seemingly not my cup of tea, with naked performers throwing big sheets
of papers around for a reason I couldn't see ...
“parades & changes, replays” was performed
on October 13th & 14th at TQW.
after finishing the two nights of shows two days ago, I note down some elements
out of many which had been important for this work, at least in my own process
of joining it.
“‘Parades & Changes’ provoked significant scandal because the dancers in the piece
fully disrobe and redress, three different times. Halprin says the piece is
about the process of
undressing, finding your place in space.” Spark's
One reason why the work became a
scandal maybe was that besides Halprin herself and two other adult performers,
it was performed by eight teenagers, including Halprin's own two daughters.
Teenagers stripping on stage. Even
today this has the potential for scandal. Yet just to make sure: Halprin never
said that it was stripping, that's me saying it; she said it was a “process of
undressing” and a “ceremony of trust”.
Whose work are we seeing now? The split authorship / identity of the work
lies somewhere between, or over, the two creators Halprin and Collod. My
thoughts are on a constant trip between two different times and contexts around
Halprin in the 1960's and Collod in 2008. We see Collod's work in front of us
and we're thinking of Halprin, and of the circumstances she must have been in.
We see what we see in front of us as Halprin's work and know that it is not
really true either. Moreover, both Haprin and Collod see their work as
collective, a collaboration with the participants.
In 1965 (the year “Parades & Changes” was first performed) Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov from the
USSR became the first person to take a step (?) in space, leaving his spacecraft
for 12 minutes. Only four years later, in 1969, Neil Armstrong of the United
States' NASA Apollo project took the first step (!) on the moon.
Go-go-Dance originated in the early 60's in NYC when women
began to get up on tables and dance the twist in clubs. In 1964 Carol Doda
started topless Go-go-Dance, after having had her breasts enlarged with
silicone, in San Francisco where Halprin was and still is living. 1965 also was
the year that the USA sent their first soldiers to South Vietnam; so far they
had only been indirectly involved in the war. 3,500 American soldiers arrived
in Vietnam, getting deep into jungle and mud combat scenes.
had their R&R (Rest and Relaxation) in Thailand. There were many strip and Go-go-Clubs there to entertain the soldiers in their free time. (The war ended
in 1975 but the business has remained until today for its international
The musician Morton Subotnick made the sound for both
the work of Halprin in 1965 and that of Halprin/Collod in 2008. He sampled
Petula Clark's “Downtown”, an
international hit song from 1964 (!) and the singer's best-known song. To my
surprise, I found this clip on Youtube, a clear cause for the “Dressing/Undressing”-part.
Hey, what we thought was the original Halprin was a re-make of this performance!
And please check the painting behind her of, apparently, Manhattan NYC. The
building in the middle must be the Empire State Building, the tallest building
of the time. Probably the one on the left is Chrysler Building. And of course
The World Trade Center is not there, these are the years before the Twin Towers
were built at the beginning of 70's.
“when you're alone and life is making you lonely
you can always go downtown ...
you can forget all your troubles ... so go downtown.
things'II be great when you're downtown. don't wait a minute ...
everything's waiting for you in downtown. downtown, downtown, com'on ...
“Barbarella” is a 1968
film directed by Roger Vadim
and based on the 1962 French
comics by Jean-Claude
Forest. It is famous
for its erotic sequence during the opening credits in which Barbarella, played
by Jane Fonda, undresses in zero gravity.
slow-motion undressing in Halprin/Collod's dance piece makes me think of this
zero gravity striptease. It is very soft and soundless,
seemingly happening in the world of soundlessness.
Re-make (for the discussion of definition at the
Re-enact. Re-play. Re-do. Re-develop. Re-use. Re-create. Re-move.
Re-cognise. Re-touch. Re-turn. Re-gain. Re-main. Re-set. Re-cover.
Obviously, Collod's re-make piece is equipped with higher stage
technology, which Halprin's original piece could not have. The light designer
Mykko Hynninen uses modern lighting equipment called “Intelligent Lights”, also
nicknamed “Moving Lights”. These spotlights move like cannons of warships ...
They were developed in the early 80's and used mainly in rock concerts, you
know, the strong spotlights moving unbelievably fast like some kind of insects,
beaming out various colours in quick change.
Wow, Anna Halprin is 88 and has her own website!
Is it only me surprised about this fact?
In the section “about”, I found a text written by her husband Laurence Halprin who is a
landscape architect that starts with “Anna and I have been married
for 65 years”.
"Our work has been interwoven all that time. (...) More and more her dance has developed as myths and
rituals in which the focus is on issues of everyday life; psychological, or
physical, and community as well as personal. In this sense she has reverted to
the early meaning of dance in human society, joyful and healing as well as
tragic, and based on the most primitive needs of the human condition. These
dances are universal."
I could not find out how the work became “forbidden” yet. I mean “officially forbidden” like she had to sign that she
would neither be nor make anyone else be naked on stage, or something like
that. A performer colleague from the project told me that policemen came to
stop the performance when Halprin and her people performed it in NYC in the mid 60's.
I imagine that the policemen became rather confused when they entered the
theatre and saw a group of people taking off their clothes and putting them on
again a few times in very slow motion. “E..e ... Excuse me, hh, can you please
explain w..what is going on here?”
+ + +
are some related images:
Anna Halprin, 2006.
“Paper Dance” from Parades and Changes, Replays.
Cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov.
Neil Armstrong in a pre-Gemini spacesuit.
Barbarella played by Jane Fonda.
The sign at “the Condor” club in San Francisco where Carol Doda started strip go-go dance.
Go-go-Dancers in Bangkok's Nana Plaza entertainment area.
The Empire State Building. The world's tallest building from 1931 to 1972.
Intelligent light, MAC500 by MARTIN.
US Navy warship USS Iowa "The Big Stick" firing.
Petula Clark in the 1960's.
A group of protesters marching in Washington, D.C. 2005.
Taipei In Style Fashion Show 2008.
San Francisco Gay Parade 2006. New candidates for California governor?
Alain Buffard and his dance company on stage.
+ + +
To Anne Collod and the team - Alain Buffard,
Cécile Proust, DD Dorvillier, Krõõt Juurak, Mykko Hynninen, Nuno Bizarro. Also to
Jule, Nicolas and Philip. To Martina Hochmuth who asked me to join the project,
and the TQW team, especially Alex who helped me to unlock the door. And of
course to Anna Halprin!
– – –
Born in Kobe. Lives in Vienna. He works as an artist, choreographer and