There are certain films that, when they appear, seem to be made just for you: the subject matter and the style in which it is addressed, all carefully selected for your personal benefit. Such is the eerie sensation experienced while watching Breath Made Visible, a documentary about modern dance pioneer Anna Halprin.

A teacher and choreographer of dance for over 60 years, Halprin’s imprint on the world of contemporary dance is indelible. In her own words she “sought to break every rule possible.” This included dancing in public spaces, improvised dancer-produced live musical scores, onstage nudity (at a time when such things caused uproar) and the use of words in dance, bridging the divide between theatre and dance.

Despite these innovations, what makes Halprin’s work relevant to this day are the issues she explored. As the film explains, Halprin’s work has been guided by a simple question: “What is important in life?” There is a remarkable balance of humility and boldness in this approach, which shows in her work.

The filmmakers had access to a fantastic collection of stock footage and put it to great use in constructing both a biography of Halprin and a history of the volatile times in which she worked. Yet the film’s greatest virtue is that it is not preachy or didactically dull. While painting a loving portrait of an artist, it makes a simple and profound statement about the power of art to heal and transform our lives.

Grade: A+

Breath Made Visible releases in select theaters May 7.