Anna Halprin, A.A. Leath, Daria Halprin, John Graham, and Patric Hickey, 1963.
“The event I was in was truly a ‘happening’ because it did just that – it happened – that’s all – happened. Early in the week, the secretary of Dancers’ Workshop called my sister-in-law, Beryl Landau and me to ask us to wear warm clothing to our Thursday night dance class and to bring umbrellas. It was not during the rainy season (it never rains haphazardly here – like in the east.) Arriving to class, we were only somewhat surprised when our teacher, ‘A.A.’ Leath, a great dancer and teacher who works with Anna Halprin, announced that were going to the Civic Center Mall and dance as part of the San Francisco Art Festival. I stop here to fill you in on A.A.’s classes. First of all, when A.A. says ‘dance’ he means ‘move.’ To him a moustache moving through space with the energy and rhythm of its owner’s speech as the upper lip propels it, is a dance. Our classes are not the usual torturous exercises followed by ‘improvisations’ incorporating the day’s exercises. We expend great amount of physical energy (that’s the workout value of the class) and are asked to ‘attend to’ and respond to our own movement, so that we experience each breath, each tension, twist, stretch or run. We are running and at the same time ‘attending to running’ by experiencing ourselves running. Anyway, we piled into cars – full of anxiety and excitement – about to make fools of ourselves in public. I can’t even walk into that class and not be excited. We arrived at the park across the street from the festival, which was a series of art exhibits and crafts booths on a grassy section between two public buildings. This absurd park is wedged between two public buildings with trees in flowerpots, a rectangular fountain, rectangular stone benches and stone walks. It has almost no grass because the City is waging a campaign against the homeless, the vagrants and the aged who read, sleep and use the toilet in the Main Branch Library. They used to sun bathe on the former grassy zones of this park. Now they sit catatonically on the stone benches. …”
Holding Up the Sign