That’s a lot of characters for one not-so-lengthy post.
Where to begin?
My small journey first launched from a random YouTube search.
I was reading an article about the role of music therapy in various healing settings and I found a reference that put me in the direction of a recorded video interview with dancer-theater artist-healer, Anna Halprin.
At 93, Anna continues in the work she pioneered in the expressive arts of healing when she founded the San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop in 1955 and the Tamalpa Institute in 1978. With her affirming belief in the connection between movement and the healing power of dance, Halprin works closely with terminally ill patients.
Halprin, herself a Cancer survivor, lives life by way of her adage, “Aging is like enlightenment at gunpoint.”
She is a truly amazing woman and I hope you might be led to know more. I’ll share just one of the YouTube videos that first captured my attention.
So now we’ll move from the dancer to the library.
The church I attended as a child sat neatly adjacent the Los Angeles Central Library and so the area is very familiar to me. Even as a child I admired the architecture.
A devastating 1986 arson fire closed the library for ten years, during which an extensive renovation project preserved the original 1926 five-story tower and added a new eight-story wing. It is both familiar yet at the same time quite changed from what I remember as a child when I stared admiringly, imagining how many books I could read.
I also remember walking the gardens with our Sunday School teachers, and the boys, it was always boys, occasionally falling into the lily pond.
The original pond is now gone, but the current grounds, with several very interesting art installations and water features, are quite lovely.
I have some nice photos of the exterior of the library, but a movie shoot in the garden abbreviated my garden photo opportunities. Maybe next time.
I tried to understand all the symbols on the steps and the surrounding buildings, but since I’m not a cryptologist, or Dan Brown, I had to consult with Mr. Google. And while I was searching for answers…
Enter the architect!
Maguire Gardens, the landscaped area around the library which includes several fountains and water features, was conceived and created by landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin. Recognize the last name?
I didn’t immediately make the connection, but the lightbulb went on when I realized the same architect designed the wonderful Bunker Tower Steps, also adjacent the library, and compared his love of architecture to choreography.
Lawrence and Anna lived life together as a creative team until he passed in 2009. He was 93.
And while I was at the library, I couldn’t resist one book. It was calling my name from New Books!
I am such a HUGE fan of the American television phenomenon, the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Airing for the first time in 1970, despite the changing social attitudes accompanying the rise of the Women’s Movement, the executives of the show were convinced America would not accept an edgy show about a divorced career woman. So the role of Mary Richards became a breakthrough with the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character.
The book tells the story of how this show almost didn’t come to be in the first place.
It’s hard to choose a true favorite from the incredible and memorable ensemble cast, but the character, Rhoda, played by Valerie Harper, with her edginess, vulnerability, complex relationship with her mother and Bohemian fashion choices, was popular enough for her own spin-off.
And that brings me to the actress.
I was really sorry to see Valerie Harper leave the dance floor in last night’s Dancing With the Stars elimination. It was her turn to go, but I’ll miss her smiling face.
She was an inspiration on the dance floor and I wonder if Anna Halprin had any knowledge of the weekly performance. Despite a diagnosis of terminal Cancer, Valerie Harper impressed the judges and the audience with her commitment to keep on dancing, on the floor and in life, amazing her doctors with her stamina and ability to live life NOW!
She has been quoted as saying, “Don’t go to the funeral until the day of the funeral.”
Pause with that one for a minute.
So that’s how I connected the dancer, a library, an architect, and an actress.
Did you get lost along the way? Trust me. These are incredible people worth knowing. And I think they have something to say to each of us.
- Valerie Harper: I have no cancer symptoms (today.com)