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Daria Halprin was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of San Francisco-based landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and choreographer Anna Halprin, who, in the 1950s, was one of the Western pioneers of using dance as a healing art. Like her mother, Halprin studied dance, and in the mid 1960s, began acting in film.
In 1968, she appeared in Revolution, a documentary by Jack O'Connell. Shot mainly in San Francisco, the film exposed the thriving counterculture movement and featured a series of interviews with that city’s hippie residents.
Subsequently, Halprin was chosen by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni for the lead in his second English-language feature, Zabriskie Point. The film, released in 1970, was a statement on the burgeoning violence in America and the growing rift between the establishment and the counterculture as interpreted through a European sensibility. Following release of the film, with her Zabriskie Point co-star Mark Frechette, Halprin briefly joined self-styled guru Mel Lyman, a former member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and his 100-member commune, before fleeing due to the severity of cult life.
In 1972, Halprin appeared in her third and final movie, John Flynn's thriller The Jerusalem File, in a major role alongside Nicol Williamson and Donald Pleasence. Also in 1972, she married actor/director Dennis Hopper. The marriage produced one child, Ruthanna Hopper, before the couple divorced in 1976.
In the 1970s, Halprin developed an interest in creative arts therapy. In 1978, she and her mother Anna founded the Tamalpa Institute  and developed the Halprin Process, an expressive arts approach for transformative healing that integrates movement/dance, visual arts, performance techniques and therapeutic practices. She has authored The Expressive Body in Life, Art and Therapy, Coming Alive: The Creative Expression Method, and was a contributing author to Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy.