Parades and Changes by Anna Halprin at BAM

My personal research around community-forming practices and its relation to representation - in dance history has began by witnessing and documenting the last couple of days of the working process towards the new version of Parades and Changes by Anna Halprin performed at the Berkeley Art Museum 15.-17.2.2013.

The scoring method created by Anna and Lawrence Halprin was an effort to bridge the divergent creative languages of the poets, environmental designers, psychologists, visual artists, dancers and others who gathered on her Mt. Tam dance deck in the late 50s/early 60s. Inspired by the non-traditional scores of composers at the San Francisco Tape Music Center, they set about making visible process-oriented, rather than product-oriented, methodologies.
Scores describe the process leading up to the final thing itself; they don’t necessarily correlate to the final action itself. They can be applied to many different disciplines and should extend and morph over time. The scoring method involves: 1) identifying and collecting resources (human, material, and environmental). 2) evaluating and analyzing resources to select possible actions. 3) Creating a graphic representation of the process that documents its parameters, instructions, and decisions. These can be open (variable) or closed (fixed). 4) performing/executing the action. This cycle operates in any direction and can start over at any point and move in different directions. It constitutes a way of dealing with ideas, theory, and concepts in an active environment.

For the Halprins, scores are not goal-oriented; they are meant to improve results by breaking down unoriginal habits and hierarchies, spreading around the creative decision-making power. The graphic representation of a score hopefully makes visible elements and deciding factors in a creative process, preventing hidden agendas and providing the tools for future revision. It is composed of a system of symbols that guide interactions between its constituent elements. Of course, architectural building plans, concrete poems, mathematical algorithms, football plays, choreographic labanotation, and urban street maps can be considered scores, but their success revolves around the intentions of maker and participants: what is controlled by the score vs. what is left up to chance and personal choice. The difference between scores used as a mechanism of communication versus those used to control behavior is very significant. When a score is primarily determined by a composer, the Halprins called it "closed." When it is determined by the performers/enactors, it is "open."

Parades and Changes was the second formal piece of choreography that utilized the Halprin’s scoring process. Anna determined the initial resources for the dance (dancers, environments and generalized tasks), but through arduous workshops she and the participants selected more specific actions that were incorporated into the final score. It was decided that the score would be composed of a series of cellblocks, where each collaborator wrote a series of actions on a set of index cards. For example, composer Morton Subotnick’s cell blocks might say 1) live music on a horn with a single sustained sound, 2) electronic sound, 3) percussive rhythms, and 4) Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. Anna’s choreographic cell blocks read 1) dress and undress, 2) stomp dance, 3) embrace, 4) costume parade, 5) move with scaffold, and 6) paper dance. They were mutually developed so that they could be reassembled in infinite combinations, cell blocks could be added or removed depending on what worked best with a specific theater or audience, but they would be re-mixed in advance to derive a totally different result on every occasion of the performance. The Parades and Changes score is closed, in that it is predetermined, but the ways in which the performers select materials, interact with one another, react to the changing environment, and transition from section to section incorporates possibilities for chance and personal choice. Thus, the event is continuously composed during the actual performance, but is also rigidly structured.
(Scoring Parades and Changes as related by Dena Beard)

Published 23 February 2013

23-24 October 2021, DER BAU- GRUPPE/KIDS

Tickets still available on the website of Theater o.N.

Published 12 October


The new work by Isabelle Schad and Laurent Goldring travels to Zagreb
for the Dance Inn Festival

Published 12 October

Isabelle Schad for Somatic Charting. The House is the Body

October 8 and 9, 2021
A two days of intensive sharing in the frame of Somatic Charting.The House is the Body.

Published 12 October

1+ 2 Oct. HARVEST in Helios Theater (Hamm)

Published 1 October

OUT NOW: A Room Full of Particles. A Living Archive for Isabelle Schad.

We are delighted to announce the launch of our digital publication A Room Full of Particles. A Living Archive for Isabelle Schad.

You can download it from the website of our publisher Naima Unlimited:

Published 29 September

About the Sommerfest.ival

Three questions to Isabelle Schad about the idea of the Sommerfest.ival

Tanzhalle Wiesenburg and the Humboldthain – venues of the festival together with the Werkhalle Wiesenburg – have been a home and a refuge during the pandemic. How have you inhabited them in the past months?

Very soon after the second lockdown began, I started to invite members of my team – dancers, light and sound designers, anyone who wanted – to join me in the park at Humboldthain for regular training sessions in the morning.
It’s been a way of staying together: for oneself inside the pandemic, during which distance v. contact has become the central change, and among ourselves as a team and people who like one another.
It’s become a regular practice in which we learn new techniques derived from aikido with the stick and the sword, and it’s been a strong factor in as much it began to change the depth of the/my work in the field of performance, movement, dance …
On the other hand our own space, the Tanzhalle Wiesenburg, has been a refugee for us as a team: we restructured the space, did building work, had a place for gathering during the winter time and worked on small formats, respecting the rules for staying safe and healthy …
So the whole area around Humboldthain in Wedding has become a central point of meeting, and we developed our own ‘liveliness’ and home over there during that time, which has left good traces.

And now with this festival you’re sharing your work and practice with the public. What is the inspiration and intention behind it during this (still) special time?

The idea was to share some of that liveliness with an audience, or simply with a larger group of people, with friends.
The notion of being and doing things together is a central point. What can sharing be?
How does it feel doing the warm-up practice together in the park and then to witness another type of practice that can become an (invisible) performance – open-air, but at the same time worked for the theatre and now stripped of all possible theatrical signs (of representation)?
How can it be seen in its most essential presentness?
How can the material be looked at as a symbiosis of relationships between us as persons, as human beings and nature?
Relationships between culture and nature, inside and outside, self and other? How is it then to travel back to Wiesenburg, where installations happen indoors and concerts outdoors, where ‘doing things’ meets the notion of ‘seeing things’, ‘hearing things’, being together, relaxing and enjoying together.

The festival presents existing works in new forms and newly adapted versions. But there is also a thematic fil rouge around the idea of infinite movements.

The notion of infinite movement – movement that has no beginning and no ending, like all movements of life: walking, flying, climbing, etc. – has been a focus in my work for a long time. Weight shift and its movement patterns that repeat themselves but are continually new and different is the core material I’m dealing with.
That’s why the training and movement practice is so central to my work. When the looping and repetitive patterns are made visible they can become a living sculptural entity. In the working process I observe the places where things become visible and start to form … form the formless and leave the form again … alive material that is life itself: everything is vibrant movement.

Published 18 September