Teaching Together: Bringing Anna Halprin’s “Myths” into the Classroom

I first encountered the work of choreographer Anna Halprin at documenta 14 this summer when I was stopped in my tracks by a diagram showing one of her Myth performances from 1967 in at Documenta-Halle in Kassel.

Halprin describes the Myths as follows:

Myths are experimental…What unfolds is a spontaneous exploration of ideas. Myths are meant to evoke our long buried and half forgotten selves. Each evening will explore a different relationship between audience and performers, and between our awareness, our bodies and our environments. The audience should not be bound by accustomed passivity, by static self-images, or by restricted clothing. Myths are our myths. They are an experiment in mutual creation.

As I learned more about her transformational breaking down of the boundaries between life and art, theater and dance, audience and performers, in Myths and other works, I wanted to find some way to bring the collaborative and collective spirit of her work into the classroom as a Classics professor.

As “Minus Plato Today” is, in many ways, a blueprint for future action and work as Minus Plato transitions to a collective artistic practice (watch this space!), over the next ten days I will be revisiting Halprin’s Myths and rewrite them for the space and context of the Classics classroom, asking how does the teaching of antiquity lend itself to the experimental environment and contexts of Halprin’s Myths? So, tomorrow we will start these Myths for Mutual Pedagogy with Myth One: Creation.


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