Monday, November 15, 2010

“The Dance Notation Bureau Costume Design Collection” by Mei-Chen Lu

“The Dance Notation Bureau Costume Design Collection” by Mei-Chen Lu
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - November 15, 2010

Mei-Chen Lu, the Dance Notation Bureau’s Director of Library Services, has published an excellent article, “The Dance Notation Bureau Costume Design Collection,” in Documenting: Costume Design, edited by Nancy E. Friedland, Performing Arts Resources, Vol. 27. New York: Theatre Library Association, 2010, pp. 111-116.

Little did people know that DNB has such a unique collection of dance costume information and resources. We hope you will find this article about the history of dance notation and the breadth of materials in its collections informative.

Please keep in mind that this article is copyrighted. It may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the Theatre Library Association.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, August 4, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, August 4, 2010
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - November 10, 2010

Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, August 4, 2010. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.

Present: Ray Cook, Caity Gwin, Mira Kim, Mei-Chen Lu, Lynne Weber, Charlotte Wile.

1.1    TOPIC: Comments on the April 5, 2010 Meeting

1.2    There were two responses to the April 5, 2010 minutes:
1.3    The group discussed items in Ann’s paper first.

1.4    On page 1 Ann says:
“In marking off the vertical units of time, it is not the horizontal bar line or the ‘tick’ marks that show the beat, the count of 1, 2, 3, etc.  These signs are dividers, the moment of the beat comes just after the bar line or tick mark.  A small amount of space on the page has to exist to represent that moment, that time unit, visually.  (See Your Move, 2008 page 275.) Thus, for example, the foot hook or end of a contact bow needs to be placed in this small area, Ex. 1a and 1b.  This fact, long agreed upon, has been missing from the Labanotation textbooks.  My apologies.”
    (Note: Examples in Ann's paper are labeled here as AHG)

1.5    The group had questions about this idea.

1.6    Mira: We don’t teach that or write that way, but I think I understand what Ann means. When we write an accent sign we put it a little bit above the line. (E1a) 

1.7    Charlotte: That makes sense for an accent sign or foot hooks. They of necessity need to be drawn above the line so they will be visible and not blend in with the bar line. But what about direction signs? Should they also be written after the tick or bar line? For instance, in notation where the direction sign for a support is drawn touching the tic mark or bar line, does the timing of the support begin after the beginning of the support sign?

1.8    Mei: In Labanotation the supports are written touching the tic marks and bar lines.

1.9    Ray: Having the timing for the foot hook begin after the tic mark and having the timing of the direction sign (when it is written on the tic mark) begin at the beginning of the direction sign is a contradiction in symbols.

1.10   Charlotte: Aren’t measure and beat numbers written in line with tic marks and bar lines? However, going by Ann’s statement, shouldn’t they be drawn above the bar line or tic mark? (As in Ex. AHG 1a above.)

1.11    Mira: What about the consecutive touches. Do they also need to be drawn slightly above the tic? (Ex. AHG1a)

1.12    Caity: I understand this more as a formatting question than as a timing question. Perhaps Ann is saying that the tic marks are used to show a certain span of time. The physical line itself is devoid of timing. In LabanWriter, symbols are written one pixel above that line.

1.13    Mira: In other words, the tic or bar line doesn’t show the end or beginning of the unit of time. It just divides the span of time into units.

1.14    A comparison was made to music. The bar lines divide the music into units. The notes depict the timing.

1.15   There was disagreement about whether the notes or bar lines in music denote where the beat occurs.

1.16    Charlotte said she had always thought that the L/N tic mark and bar lines correspond with the beat of music. Ann seems to be saying that the music beat comes slightly after the tic or bar line.

1.17    Ray: Before there was a computer you always had to put a hairline space between symbols.

1.18   Charlotte asked if the hairline came before or after the beat. She assumed that it would come before the next symbol so that the bottom of that next symbol would correspond with the beat.

1.19    Mira: In LabanWriter there is a very slight space after the tic or bar line, as in Ann’s statement.

1.20    Charlotte: In Labanotation, 4th ed., page 32 it says, “… the center time line is marked off at regular intervals by small ticks, each tic marking the beginning of a new beat. The space between the ticks represents the duration of the beat.”  So here Ann is saying that the tic does denote the beginning of the beat.

1.21    Charlotte wondered about Ann’s statement that the timing comes after the tic has been “long agreed upon.” (See paragraph 1.4 above). If this is just a verbal agreement that some experts know about and use in their scores, but that contradicts what is written in the texts, this could be very confusing for future readers of scores. This once again brings forth questions about standardization and what it means.

1.22    Mira said that putting the hairline space is in fact the way we write, even if that hasn’t been spelled out in the texts.

1.23    Mei: Having the beat come after the tic or bar line makes the score much more difficult to read.

1.24    Charlotte: What is wrong with having the tic indicate the beat?

1.25    Mira said the tic can indicate the timing of the beat. However, the convention is to write the symbols with a slight space between them, or in the case of foot hooks, above the tic or bar line so they are visible (e.g., not drawn on top of the bar line).

1.26    Mira reiterated that she could see the logic in Ann’s statement.

1.27    The group finished this topic still feeling confused about Ann’s statement and the issues it raised. They decided to move on to the next topic in Ann’s paper: “The Meaning of a Step Symbol.”

1.28    Lynne arrived at this point in the meeting.

1.29    In Ann’s paper (page 1) she says,
“Let us go over again what the symbol of 3a represents.  The base of the direction symbol represents (and must represent) the moment the foot contacts the floor, 3b.  This is true whatever the part of foot it might be.  For the tap dancer, that is the moment the tap sound is heard, i.e. on the beat.” 
1.30    Ray: If the support direction symbol touches the tick mark or measure line, then this statement disagrees what Ann wrote earlier in her the paper (paragraph 1.4 above). In that case the timing would begin slightly after the beginning of the symbol.

1.31    Charlotte: In order to make Ann’s statements agree, you need to draw the support symbol slightly above the tick mark or bar line if you want the foot contact to occur on the beat. However, what if you want the contact to come after the beat? Then you need to write the tic, have a slight space above that, i.e., where the beat occurs, and then put the beginning of the direction symbol above that.

1.32    The group discussed the timing of Ann’s Ex. 3c-3g.
1.33    On page 1 in her paper Ann says, “Before a travelling step takes place, the moving leg needs to advance in the appropriate direction in preparation for taking weight; at the same time the center of gravity (CofG) moves beyond centered balance toward the new support.  In the notation of 3c, the arrow shows where this is understood to take place.”

1.34    The group agreed that this would be true in continuous stepping. However, in movement from a stationary position, as in 3c, does the notation specify that gesturing and center of gravity movement at the same time? Couldn’t the leg gesture happen before the center of gravity movement?

1.35    Ann’s 3d and-3e were compared.

1.36    Lynne said she would not do 3d and 3e the same way. For example, in reading 3d she would emphasize the center of gravity. Ray said the performance of 3d and 3e would depend upon how high the gesture leg is from the floor. If the gesture leg is high then the center of weight would have to move before the foot touches the floor in the step. However, if the gesture leg is close to the ground you do not need to shift the weight before the gesture becomes a support. (Video #1 - Ray and Lynne demonstrate.)

Note: Here and elsewhere, for the best viewing of a video, click the start arrow on the screen twice so you can view it in YouTube.

1.37    Caity said she did not think that Ann was comparing the examples. Rather she was just showing 3c-3f as components of what she gets to in 3g.

1.38    The group discussed zed carets, e.g., as in Ann’s 3g.

1.39    Lynne felt there are contradictory messages in 3g: 1) the center of gravity moving forward, and 2) the zed caret which limits the step to where you were.

1.40    Ray: Originally the zed caret meant there is an intention of connecting the gesture with the step. However, whenever you asked someone to demonstrate it, the reader would always do something extra physically with their whole body to show the gesture and step belonged together.  The zed caret is not needed. Without it there is automatically a connection between the gesture and the step. If you want something extra to happen in the body, like a breath, then you write the zed caret. (Video #2 – Mei with her back to the camera, Ray demonstrating, Lynne and Charlotte sitting.)

1.41    Mei: The distance of the step is affected by the use of the zed caret. Stepping on the same spot will make the step smaller. If no zed caret is used, then the step may or may not be on the same spot.

1.42    Charlotte felt there could be confusion if the zed caret has two different meanings: 1) step on the same place, and 2) connect the gesture and the step. Mira said she recalled this being discussed at a previous meeting.

1.43    [Addendum from Charlotte: Mira may be referring to the April 20, 2008 meeting.]

1.44    Ray: Assume the zed caret means there is a connection or phrasing between the gesture and the step. Does that mean that when there is no zed caret, there is not a connection?

1.45    Charlotte: Without the zed caret, you may or may not have such phrasing. Likewise, if the zed caret means step on the same spot, when it is not written the step may or may not be on the same spot.

1.46    Mira said she remembered Sandra [Aberkalns] saying notators needed a way to show that certain movements are linked. That was how the linking idea for the zed caret began. Also, the regular caret is used to show stepping on the same spot when the gesture foot is touching the floor. What we are talking about is when the gesture leg is in the air.

1.47    The discussion changed to the issue of when weight is centered in a step.

1.48    Everyone agreed with Ann’s statement in her paper concerning a step that does not continue to a new step. On page 2 she says, “At the end of a concluding step, when no further transference of weight occurs, the center of weight is understood to be over the new support at the end of the symbol, the last ‘time unit’...”

1.49    However, the group questioned Ann’s statement about consecutive steps (page 2):
“But when consecutive steps occur, the center of weight will be moving into the direction of the next step.  Thus the moment of the CofG being centered must occur before its displacement into the direction of the next step, as shown in 4b.  Exactly where this point of balance occurs will depend on: a) the speed and b) the style of the movement.  Because it is a passing event, it has not seemed important, to date, to pin it down precisely.  However, as indicated in 4b, we have the means to be precise.  Probably a larger basic unit for each beat (count) would be needed."
1.50   Ann's statement continues:
"In the case of fast, swaying steps, the weight may never be centered.  Ex. AHG 5a shows a typical example; there is not time to produce full transferences of weight.  By throwing the torso weight from side to side, as in 5b, a moment of being centered can be achieved.”
1.51    Charlotte: Is there an assumed timing for when the centering occurs? At the April 5 meeting everyone seemed to think there is one, although there was some discussion about whether it occurs 1/2 way into the support sign or 1/3 way into the support sign. In contrast, in her paper Ann is saying that is not so. She says the point of balance is not assumed; it depends upon the context of the movement.

1.52    Lynne:  Context is important. You can’t just automatically assume when the centering will occur. Also, when you are doing a series of steps, the center of gravity never actually gets to the stable point.

1.53    Everyone agreed that context does influence what happens in the step, and it would be better for there not to be a rule that says what the timing is by default. In other words, unless stated otherwise, the timing of centering would be open to interpretation.

1.54    However, everyone in the group said they had been taught that there is a standardized timing for when centering occurs.

1.55    Charlotte pointed out that the texts do not say that timing is open. Rather, examples of when the timing occurs are given (Labanotation, 4th edition, page 127; Elementary Labanotation, by Muriel Topaz, 1996, page 32). Perhaps this leads the reader to think that there is a standardized timing.

1.56    Lynne: When you teach a ballet class to little kids, you tell them certain things. When you go back as an advanced student or professional dancer, and you revisit the exact same movement, you realize those things you told the little kids are simplifications of all that is going on. I don’t think there is a problem with telling people that centering is 1/2 way through the step. It gives them a concept, even if it isn’t absolutely true in all circumstances. However, when you get into more advanced work you need a better understanding of the details of movement. For example, computer scientists who are simulating movement.

1.57    Charlotte: In the texts maybe it should say clearly that, unless indicated otherwise, the timing of the parts of a step depends upon the context of the movement. When you need to specify details such as when centering occurs, there are ways of doing that. And then give examples.

1.58    Lynne said that in the beginning stages of teaching notation she would not even get into the details of transferring weight. They are too complicated. The details bog the students down in their brains, keeps them from moving, and turns them off to L/N. When you just tell a person to step, they usually know what that means and take a step. An exception was the computer animation people that Lynne worked with, who from the beginning wanted to get into detailed analysis and break the step up into small units. This made it difficult for them to even read simple scores, e.g., Fred Berk’s folk dances.

1.59    Ray: That is true not just about stepping. It applies to all movement.

1.60    Lynn agreed with Ray and gave arm examples. (Video 3 – shows Lynne demonstrating, Charlotte and Ray watching.) 

1.61    Unfortunately there was not enough time to discuss the rest of Ann’s paper because the group wanted to have enough time to discuss János’s paper:

1.62    János’s paper includes a discussion of P. W. Pluto’s “Figure 1.” Lynne felt that “Figure 1” is not correct because it stipulates that the bottom of the direction sign indicates where the support contacts the floor. She feels that the timing of the contact is open to interpretation unless you are doing exact timing.

1.63    Charlotte: However, in Ann’s paper (page 1) she says, “The base of the direction symbol represents (and must represent) the moment the foot contacts the floor, 3b. This is true whatever the part of foot it might be. For the tap dancer, that is the moment the tap sound is heard, i.e. on the beat.”

1.64    Lynne said when putting things on paper, she personally thinks of the notation as having more leeway. It does not state that the foot must absolutely make contact at that moment. She gave some ballet steps as an example. (Video 4 - shows Lynne demonstrating.)

1.65    Ray: The examples Lynne has given are correct. You see those variations of the movement all the time in ballet class. However, those are just individual interpretations of the movement. What is written on the page is what is supposed to be done. If you want all those variations as possibilities, then that must be stated in the notation.

1.66    Lynne said she began thinking about this when she had to write a “dos-a do” for “Gold Rush” [Agnes de Mille]. The movement was turning on a circular path while maintaining your front. There is the “feeling” of what you are doing, vs. what you are actually doing (which looks really strange when you notate it).

1.67    Ray: You don’t write what you feel. You write what you do.

1.68    Charlotte: You write what the choreographer says it should be.

1.69    Lynne: But the choreographer says, “Forward,” and you are actually doing diagonal steps to start your path.

1.70    Charlotte: You need to figure out what he means, which may not be what he is saying.

1.71    Lynne: The issue is, when the dancer is reading the notation, how will they get it right?

1.72    Ray: You need to write exactly what the body is doing. If there is “feeling,” that can go in a bow. [Note from Charlotte: I think Ray meant an intention bow.]

1.73    Charlotte returned to the issue of how open the notation should be. If a given indication is going to be open to interpretation unless it is stated otherwise, then that needs to be stated in the material we use for standardization (e.g., texts and ICKL). On the other hand, if symbols are not open to interpretation, that needs also to be clearly stated. Otherwise, we will not know how to read a given score. Whatever the rule is, it can always be changed by a statement in the glossary. But everyone needs to be on the same page about what the rule is to begin with.

1.74    Ray: It’s not what our rules say, it is what they do not say that causes confusion.

1.75    Charlotte returned to János’s paper. Referring to the April 5 minutes, János wrote,
“Ray, Mira, and Mei pointed out that the rule about center occurring ½ way into the step has been changed. In Guest, Labanotation, page 127 it says that it is ½ way.” I read the referenced page several times but found nowhere this statement. Though it would have been much simpler looking it up if you’d cited the text and/or stated which figure you were referring to, I suppose you meant the explanation about Fig.190a. But here AHG* writes: “At (ii) the weight is transferred half way” (italics by me).
In other words, the weight is not fully centered at the half of the direction sign, but only half way, because the direction sign is followed by a body hold when the movement stops and the weight finally arrives “centered”. In this page AHG says nothing about when the weight is centered during a step. (190.a was used to explain the step-gesture rule, also confirming her stand in opposition with Knust and Szentpál on élancé and coupé.)”

1.76      Caity pointed out that AHG 190a is a concluding step, so János was correct in his reading of Ann’s statement. In her paper Ann differentiates between concluding steps and consecutive steps.

1.77    Lynne reiterated that most step patterns never get to centered. It has to do with physics. For instance, in working with animation, you have to talk reality. You can’t talk about your vision of center, when you aren’t actually centered at all. The only time you are centered would be if you were stepping on a straight line. (Video 5 – shows Lynne demonstrating, Charlotte and Ray sitting.) [Note from Charlotte: Unfortunately, Lynne’s movement is only partially visible in this video. Even so, I think the clip helps clarify what Lynne meant.]

1.78.    Charlotte: I now see that János is correct about how Ex. 190a in Labanotation should be interpreted. However, it is interesting to note that everyone at this meeting was taught the centering occurs 1/2 way into a step. Where did this idea come from? Perhaps centering needs to be explained more clearly in the texts.

1.79    Lynne said she felt centering should not be brought up at all in the beginning texts.

1.80    Charlotte said that P.W. Pluto presents an interesting case. He wants to notate tango movement. For him the issue of where center comes seems very important, even though he is a beginning/intermediate student.

1.81    Lynne said this reminds her of when they started to notate modern dance. That work made notators aware of the difference between a contraction and folding. Likewise, Maria Szentpál’s work in folk dance brought about the refinement of foot hooks. Also, the computer animation people have made us look more closely at the true physics of movement. P. W.’s need for a better way to write Tango movement is also pushing us in new directions. We need to think it though and maybe change what has been established previously.

1.82    Charlotte said she felt P. W.’s paper may have mistakes because the texts do not explain the timing of steps clearly. However, his innovative idea for indicating the timing of centering could be very useful. (He puts a backwards slanted line inside the support indication to show when centering occurs.)

1.83    Ray: We are discovering new possibilities for writing because of issues that have come up and have never been addressed.

1.84    Mira: People sometimes think that new ways of writing a movement are not necessary because they think we already have a way to write that movement.

1.85    Charlotte: The new way of writing may express the intent of the movement better. For instance, P.W.’s idea of combining the idea of center of weight and direction into one symbol makes you think differently than if the two concepts are written separately. P.W.’s indication takes ones focus away from the center of gravity and places it more with the support. Maybe that is what is needed in teaching Tango.

1.86    Mira, returning to Ann’s paper, said she prefers her example 4b as a way to indicate the timing of when the centering occurs (see paragraph 1.50 above). When we notate, we need to think. And the readers are notation readers. P.W.’s slanted line has no connection to how we notate the center of gravity.

1.87    Ray: It depends upon how you are taught. If you were taught that there is a connection, then you would see the connection and read it that way.

1.88    Charlotte: P. W.’s idea would be very useful for scores where you don’t want to have many symbols and want to make the score easier to read. For example, it would be good for beginning notation students.

1.89    Ray: The less symbols on the page, the better.

1.90    Mira: P. W.’s method of writing would, of course, need to be glossarized.

1.91    Returning to the issue of how concepts are explained in the texts, Ray and Lynne said that everything in the texts assumes you have dance training. That may be OK, but we need to acknowledge it.

1.92    Lynne said when she watches her son doing gymnastics, she is not sure she would know how to notate it, even though she has training in how to analyze movement. For instance, there is internal torso movement and impetus that would need to be written. It’s not just about making paths and designs in space. There are many aspects of the movement that L/N hasn’t addressed yet. On the other hand, the system has grown as needs have come up, e.g., what is needed to write a Graham contraction.

1.93    Lynne said that is she is in favor of having the system be looser, so it can be adapted for various applications.

1.94    Ray: If you allow looseness in interpretation, it means each dancer is free to do the movement her own way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Moving Space" -- Laban scales on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad

Submitted by Brenton Cheng - October 13, 2010

Friends and colleagues,

Laban moves into the 21st century!

I am happy to announce the release of "Moving Space: The Laban Scales" -- an interactive, 3D compendium of the Space Harmony scales for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Perfect for teachers and students as a teaching/study aid and way to explore the scales.

You can watch a demo of the app here:

Direct link to the app in iTunes (Apple App Store):

In our certification programs, we have long been using a variety of discovered and constructed objects in an attempt to convey to students a sense of the 3D structure of the scales. When Michael Neff, a computer animation researcher who did our program, created a short 3D movie illustrating the Axis and Girdle Scales, I was struck by how beautifully and clearly the scale's form was revealed, much more effectively than our string-and-plastic-tubing models.

Granted, a computer visualization will never substitute for embodiment, but it became obvious to me how an interactive scale reference utilizing a touchscreen could provide an instantly graspable sense of the scales' form, which could *facilitate* embodiment.

This is the result.

Please consider checking out the app, letting your students know about it, and sending me any feedback or suggestions. Features will continue to be added in response to your input, and once you have the app, updates are always free.

If you like it, consider rating the app and adding a review in the App Store, which will increase exposure of the app (and LMA) to the general public.


Brenton Cheng
Faculty, Integrated Movement Studies
Berkeley Laban/Bartenieff Certificate Program 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Labanotator (1957-1965, 1978-1994)

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 13, 2010

Long before there was a Theory Bulletin Board, LabanTalk, and the CMAlist, The Labanotator provided a forum for discussing notation issues. This important periodical, edited by Ann Hutchinson Guest, was published by the Dance Notation Bureau (1957-1965) and the Language of Dance Centre (1978-1994).

The links below go to facsimiles of all 76 issues of the periodical.

Issue No. 73 contains an Index of Contents (by topic) for all issues up to October 1993. 

Note: Some of the facsimiles were scanned from xerox copies of the journal. In a few places the xeroxing was poor and could not be scanned clearly.

Issue No. 1, December 1957
Topics: Teaching – Basic Approach, Simplification with Facing Pins; Notating – The Staple; Unification – Ticks and Bar lines; Work in Progress

Topics: An "Unsprung" Coupé; A Reference to Normal; Description for Rotations of Head, etc.; Suggested Changes: Pins for Positions of the Feet; Unification: Bar Lines

Topics: The Center of Gravity Sign, Suggested Change; The Writing of Facing Pins; Suggested Sign for Facing; Placement of Change of Key Sign

Topics: Variations on the Whole Torso Sign; Sign for Facing: New Interpretation; Additional Degrees; Use of Relationship Pins (Position Signs)

Topics: Center of Gravity Sign – Knust's New Suggestion; Parts of the Torso Signs – Suggestions from the 1st International Conference and Further Discussions (Use of Third Column, and Use of Hip and Pelvis Signs)

Topics: Report from the 1st International Conference – continued (The 48 Areas of the Torso, Centre of Gravity plus Trunk Movements, Shifts, Whole Body Rotations – Cartwheels); Relationship Pins – Rule Clarified – New Suggestion; Response to The Labanotator No. 4 Questionnaire

Topics: Dynamics – Addition of a New Indication; Spine Inclusions for Head Tilts; Vertical Bows – Clarification, New Use; Rotations of the Legs – Normal State

Topics: The International Conference this Summer; Butterflies or Boats?; Circular Paths for Limbs of the Body

Topics: Review of Purpose of The Labanotator – Its Function Towards Unification, How to Approach Material Presented; Achievement So Far – Unification, Discussions Pending, Material Still to be Discussed; Answers to The Labanotators Nos. 7 and 8; Stretching the Limbs: Suggested New Rule, Hyperextended Limb or Joint, Stretched and Hyperextended Whole Torso; Clarification – Use of Flex and Stretch as Position or Movement; Contents of Issues Nos. I – C of The Labanotator (separate sheet)

Topics: Corrections – The Previous Issue: Achievements So Far; The Labanotation Textbook: Levels of Jumps, Levels of Kneeling, Blind Turns; Validity of a Symbol – Automatic Body or Space Hold?; Degrees of Distance – 2 or 6? (Short Steps, Flexions, Long Steps)

Topics: Cancellations – Formation of the Rule, Automatic Cancellation, Automatic Retention; Does the Whole Limb Cancel Its Parts? (Possible Solutions, New Proposal)

Topics: Levels of Supports; Levels of Walking After Kneeling; Levels of Supports When Center  of Gravity is [Middle Level]; Use of Hooks for Supports – Knust's Objection

Topics: Pelvic Tilts – Single Hip or Pelvic Girdle Shifts; Pelvic Rotation, as in a "Contraction"; Shading of the Turn Sign; Circular Path – Circle as Much as Possible – New Proposal

Topic: Touching and Sliding Leg Gestures

Topic: Touching and Sliding Leg Gestures – Further Clarification

Topics: Touching and Sliding Hand and Arm Gestures; Hooks on Support Symbols, Further Comment; Szentpal Rule for Hold Sign in Support Column; Overlap of Support Symbols after a Jump

Topics: Validity of a Symbol – Conclusion; Third Column (Upper-Part-of-Body-Movements) – Solution; LN Meaning for [Chest Sign] – Suggested Change; Indication for Facing – New Proposal; Supports Qualified by Hooks – Further Clarification; Szentpal Rule for Hold Sign – Corrections and Clarification

Topic: The Four Crosses of Axes

Topics: Whole Torso – A Single Unit of Two Parts Combined?; Torso Twists: Blind Turns; Rigid, Flexible Tilts; Meaning of Step in Place after Positions on Two Feet; Step-Turn Problems; Time Value for Simultaneous Action Bow

Topics: Distinction Between Thumb and Little Finger Edge; Statement of Thumb Facing; Center of Gravity Problems; Need for Statement of Center of Gravity; Degrees of Lowering Center of Gravity; Hold Signs for Center of Gravity

Topics: The Action Stroke – Duration Line

Topics: Double Starting Lines; Terminology – Corrections; Touches and Slides for Hand Gestures, Contributed by Albrecht Knust; Crosses of Axes – The Next Step

Topics: Presented by Maria Szentpal – Position Pins Near Direction Symbols (The Centre Line Problem)

Issue No. 24, 1965
Topics: Replies to Comments on The Labanotator No. 21 (Knust's Use of the Increase Sign; The De-
crease Sign; etc.); Touching and Sliding Hand and Arm Gestures – Further Clarification by Knust

Issue No. 25, 1965
Topics: Distance between Supports in Sitting and Lying; Drawing of Joint Symbols and of Spot Hold for Unification; Length of Bar Lines; Drawing of Symbols for Wide, Long

Issue No. 26, January 1978
Topics: Does [the Base of the Hand] Exist?; Relationship Pins; What Do These Mean?; Starting Position Gaposis?; Verb or Adjective?; Helpful Bits; Aerial Turns; Hold or Carry Your Skirt?; Change of Level While Swivelling; See Floor Plan; Slanting Support Lines; Intermediate Directions; Starting Position Off-Stage; Answers to Quiz

Issue No. 27, April 1979
Topics: Labanotator Textbook II; Comments on Issue 26; Relationship to Focal Point; Repeat of a Reprise; Arms in 2nd in Ballet; Vertical Bows: Are Two Needed?; Looking, Facing Requires a Verb; Ad Lib. Runs; Bow Not Needed

Issue No. 28, June 1979
Topics: Comments on Issue No. 27; Contributions from Maria Szentpal; Counts, Beats, Terminology; Accelerardo, Ritardo; Statement of Unit; Unfolding; Sequential Movement; Tap Dictionary in Preparation

Issue No. 29, November 1979
Topics: Anatomical Descriptions; White Pins for Head Rotations; Shift or Step?; Wishful Possibility; Stopped Movements; White Pins in Turn Signs; Placement of Pin; Both or Either; Degree of Led By; Comments on Issue No.27; Jazz Study by David McKittrick; Indication of Reprise, Squibs

Issue No. 30, February 1980
Topics: Level in Standing; Foot Direction on Circular Paths; Proposed Key for Direction in Relationship to Focal Point; Definition of Arm Column; Variations of Supporting Bow; Cut the Corners; Timing of Looking; Understood Neighboring Direction; Effect of Heel Height on Level of Support; Interpretation of Stance Key; Comments to Issue; Squibs

Comments to The Labanotator #30, by Muriel Topaz (March 28, 1980) 

Issue No. 31, June 1980
Topics: The Nature of this Publication; Comments on Issue No. 29; Snippet – Rubbing the Knee; Snippet – Where is Place?; Use of the Caret; Revolving on a Straight Path; Excerpt from 116 Modern Dance Classroom Combinations by Ray Cook; Hop Turns; Assemble Turns; Simplified Form; Aerial Turns – Air Lines; Snippet – When an Object is Grasped; Errata; Publication of Responses

Issue No. 32, November 1980
Topics: Simplification in Writing Stepping Patterns; Staples, Carets; The 'Same Spot'; Position or Movement Writing?; Double Carets; Timing – General or Specific?; Timing, Terminating Touches; The Question of What Follows; Legato, Staccato; Specific Timing – Some Leeway; Visualization of Rhythms; Keys, General, Specific Timing; Slight Developpe

Issue No. 33, April 1981
Topics: Analysis and Notating of Tap Dancing; Use of Double Horizontal Lines; Sectional Repeats for Group Scores; Sectional Repeats – Restatement of Material

Issue No. 34, November 1981 
Topic: Anatomical Descriptions: Terminology, Reference Point (State), Degrees of Folding, Direction of Folding (Hinge Joints), The Knee, The Ankle – Reference Point (State),  Direction of Ankle Flexion, Ankle Extension or Foot Extension?, Ball and Socket Joints, Direction of Folding, Shoulder Flexion, Indication of Rotation, Abduction and Adduction, Destinational Points, Movements of the Shoulder Blade, Movement Segment and Fixed Segment, Hip Contraction, Cancellation of Folding

Isuue No. 35, April 1982 
Topics: Intermediate Directions – Choice of Descriptions; Handling of Score Details; Heel Contact; Cancellation; Design Drawing – Statement of Size of the Design; Distance of Step; Shorthand Devices – "Retrace Path"; "Any", or "The One in Question"; Thoughts from Sigurd Leeder 

Issue No. 36, June 1983 
Topic: Canon Form

Issue No. 37, October 1983 
Topics: Relationship to Focal Point; Empty Direction Symbol for Pathway; Indication of Peripheral Pathway; Shift or Step?; Landing for Glissade, Pas de Chat, Sissonne, etc.; To Point or Not To Point; When Does Traveling Stop?; General Timing, Specific Timing; Indication of General or Specific Timing

Response The Labanotator #37, by Muriel Topaz [April 4, 1984?] 

Issue No. 38, October 1984
Topic: Indication of Paths for Gestures (Based on a 1969 ICKL Paper by Ann Hutchinson Guest) 

Issue No. 39, January 1985
Topic: Notating Chinese Kenpo Karate (Direction of Attention, Center Line of the Body, Leg Rotations, Body Facings, Secret Turn, Gestural Paths, Direction from Body Part, Shorthand or Simplified Version) 

Issue No. 40, April 1985
Topic: Dynamics 

Issue No. 41, June 1985
Topics: Motif Description (Body-as-a-Whole Movements, Open Choice Movements); Use of Keys; Change of Staffs; Looking, Addressing; Writing 'Both Hands', etc. on One Side of the Staff 

Issue No. 42, November 1985
Topics: D.B.P. for Gestures; Signs for Right and Left Hips and Knees; Specific Contraction; Hip Movements – Point of Reference; Shoulder Movements – Point of Reference; Distance in Sitting; Unfolding 

Issue No. 43, February 1986
Topics: Duration Line – Action Stroke; Revolving While Travelling; Directions – General to Specific Statement; Design Drawing – Statement of Shape of Surface; Signs for Spreading, Closing

Issue No. 44, May 1986
Topics: Centre of Gravity (Retention, Cancellation); Supports (Placement of Hooks); Comments to The  Labanotator No. 42; Use of [Curved and Angular Release Signs] in Support Column 

Issue No. 45, November 1986
Topics: Dynamic Signs – Right and Left?; Dynamic Signs – Impulsive/Impact/Swing; Meaning of [Turn Signs];  Passive Turns – Symbology; Cancellation of Body Rotation/Twists; Statement of Shifting in Addition Bracket; Repeat Movement or Notation?; Fluent Change of Level in Steps; Moving from an Open to Closed Position; Choice of Description in Levels of Supports; Choice of Directional Statement; "Opening the Chest"; Palm Facing – Timing 

Issue No. 46, February 1987
Topics: Log Rolling – Carriage of the Limbs, the Standard Retention; Folding from the Base of the Knuckles; Body Key for Palm Facing; Heel Drop ("Heel Lower", "Add Heel"); Heeled Shoes – Use of Hooks; Sound, No Sound; Retention/Adjustment of Grasping (Hands); Labanotation Textbook II; Comments on The Labanotator No. 44 

Issue No. 47. May 1987
Topics: Secret Turns; Abduction and Adduction of the Thumb; Choice of Directional Definition; Each One; General to Specific Meaning; Comments on The Labanotator No. 45 

Issue No. 48, October 1987 
Topics: 'Passive', 'Following', 'Resultant'; Travelling Turn in the Air; Diamonds Galore!; Repeats; Advantage of Round Pins for Floor Plans; Relationship between Support and Leg Gesture Movements; More Comments on The Labanotator No. 45

Issue No. 49, November 1987
Topics: Release Sign in the Support Column; Timing – Release Sign, Action Stroke; Existing Uses; Score Checking; Labanotation Textbook 11 Chapters 

Issue No. 50, January 1988
Topics: Slow Closing into Fifth Position; Aplomb (Line of Balance); 'Feeling', Intention; Looking 'Beyond'; Contraction and Folding of the Arm – Hand Indication; Comments on The Labanotator No. 46 

Issue No. 51, April 1988
Topics: Intermediate Directions; Retire Positions – Exact Description; Comments on The Labanotator No. 46 (continued) 

Issue No. 52, August 1988
Topics: Body Hold Sign for 'Rigidity?; Partnerwork/Floorwork – Simple Description; Comments on The Labanotator Nos. 47, 48, and 49 

Issue No. 53, October 1988
Topics: Orientation Indications – Clarifications; Use of Constant Key for Orientation; Abbreviated Orientation Indications; The Missing Directions; Comments on The Labanotator Nos. 49, 50, and 51 

Issue No. 54, January 1989
Topics: 'Passive', 'Resultant' Movement; Standard Rotation for the Arms – A Change; 'Normal' Turn-out for Legs; Snippets (Pins for Crossed Arms, Undeviating Step); The Labanotator Table of Contents 

Issue No. 55, April 1989
Topics: Hand Circles; Do We Describe Intention, Idea?; Comments on The Labanotator No. 54 

Issue No. 56, July 1989
Topics: Hand Circles Continued (Horizontal Circles, Sagittal Circles, Use of Keys, Gathering and Scattering); Do Short Signs Mean Sudden?; Path Signs as Modifier; Comments on The Labanotator Nos. 47, 49, 52, and 53 

Issue No. 57, October 1989
Topics: Hand Circles Continued – Addition of Sequential Movement (Successions), Individual Finger Articulation (Canonic Sequence), Combined Forms, Augmentation, Figure-eight Circles Small Figure-eights, Use of Pins to Indicate Small Circles, Modified Shape of Figure-eight; Further Comments on The Labanotator No. 54 

Issue No. 58, January 1990 
Topics: Change of Key for a Space Hold; Swing that Bow!; Thumbs Out; Afterflow; Approximate Moment of Passing; Floor Plans – Holding Hands; When does Movement Start?; Request for Hand Circle Comments 

Issue No. 59, April 1990
Topics: Use of the [Curved and Angular] Release Signs; The Meaning and Logical Use of [Angular Release Sign]; Axis of Turning; Spiral Paths on Floor Plans; Length of Path Signs; Duration of Leg Flexion; Timing of Level Change in a Step-Turn; A Return to the Topic of Resultant; Added Thoughts to Topic 1 

Issue No. 60, July 1990
Topics: Ankle Flexion – When Folding, When Contracting?; Performance of Sliding Steps; Measurement of Distance; Wrist or Lower Arm?; Labanotation Textbook II Update 

Issue No. 61, October 1990
Topics: The Beijing Labanotation Group – A Report by Ann Hutchinson Guest (Hands Sliding Along Another's Arms, Group Circling, Floor Work. Free Arm Swings); Ray Cook – Comments on The Labanotator No. 59 (Use of Release Signs, Writing Complex Floor Plans, Interpretation of Simple Statements – A Simple Run, The Ad Lib. Sign for Running); Terri Richards –  Steps, Change from Middle to Low Level; The History of the Development of Labanotation 

Issue No. 62, January 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part One 

Issue No. 63, April 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Two 

Issue No. 64, July 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Three 

Issue No. 65, October 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Four 

Issue No. 66, January 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Five 

Issue No. 67, April 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Six 

Issue No. 68, July 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Seven 

Issue No. 69, October 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Eight 

Issue No. 70. January 1993
Topics: An Analysis of Elbow Rotation, by Janos Fugedi; Handling of Props 

Issue no. 71, April 1993
Topics: The Handling of Objects (Representation of the Objects; Placement on the Staff; Contact, Hold, Carry, Carrying Hold; Directions for Objects); Pins – When Black, When Tack, When Track?; Pins for All-Fours Situations 

Issue No. 72, July 1993
Topics: Timing of Claps; Leg Gestures: Distance from Floor; Parts of the Fingers (for Movement, for Touch); Led by the Wrist; Fact or Feeling?; Limb Rotation – Back to Normal; Spot Hold or Space Hold?; Back to Normal or Disappear?; Part Leading – Use of Toe Hooks

Issue No. 73, October 1993 
Topics: Hand/Finger Fan; Track Pins, Black Pins; Led by the Wrist; Distance of Leg Gesture from Floor; Motif Indications?; Fact or Feeling?; Limb Rotation – Back to Normal?; Revolving While Travelling; The Labanotator Index of Contents, ed. 1994

Issue No. 74, January 1994 
Topics: The Practice of Specific Timing; Forms of Relating – A Generic Sign; Motif: Centre of Weight; A Menu of Movements 

Issue No. 75, April 1994
Topics: Paths, Traveling; Meandering Symbol – A New Idea; Path Signs and Room Areas; 'A Step'; LOD - 'Path' versus Traveling'; Movement of Body-as-a-Whole or of a Part?; Can a Starting Position Indicate Movement 

Issue No. 76, July 1994
Topics: Ballroom Dancing; Comments on The Labanotator No.75

Moving About: Capturing Movement Highlights Using Motif Notation, by Charlotte Wile with Ray Cook

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 7, 2010

I am happy to announce the publication of Moving About: Capturing Movement Highlights Using Motif Notation, by Charlotte Wile with Ray Cook.

Moving About teaches how to read and write Motif Notation. It tells about movement and how to tell what movement is about.

All aspects of movement are explored, including timing, body portion involvement, direction, Effort, Shape Modes, and actions (relating, traveling, forming body configurations, transferring weight, flexing and extending, falling, turning, going in the air, and changing altitude.) The book's 464 pages also contain many reading studies, quizzes, paradigms for concepts and indications, and an extensive bibliography.

For purchasing information and a free online preview, go to the Moving About website.

No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation

Submitted by Doris Green - October 7, 2010

Finally the music of African drums, bells, rattles, clappers, sticks and stones, can be written read and performed from a printout. As we know the music of Africa is largely percussive and exist as an oral tradition that is passed between generations by a mouth to ear process. Unfortunately any society that is entirely dependent upon oral communication for the transmission of its culture is doomed to failure because of outside interpretation and the breakdown of the human memory. Consequently each time the holders of this vast cultural knowledge died, they literally took archives of music to the grave where it was entombed and lost to the world forever. 

With the realization that over the course of time, much of their music was rapidly dissipating, Africans began to search for a way to document their music through written notation. For decades, if not centuries,  Africa was searching for a way to represent music of their instruments on paper. Africa’s desire to find a notation system for her instruments was unknown to a young high school student.  This young girl was a musician and dancer who needed to find a way to teach Congo drummers how to read music so they could play the proper music to accompany her choreography. When she heard her teacher comment that any sound could be written with Pitman stenography, she grabbed her pencil and wrote a drum rhythm. She used three stokes to accomplish this.

Doris Green would take this pattern and develop it into a system whereby not only African music could be written, but the accompanying dance movements, through Labanotation, could also be written as a single integrated score.  For the past 40 years Doris has covered Africa from Tanzania to Senegal, researching, teaching and sharing her knowledge with Africans. She served as a Fulbright Scholar, and US State Department Cultural Specialists.

Read my autobiography No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation.  This is the story of my life and the influence I had on the preservation of African music and dance. Now Africa has a notation system of her own. 

For additional information on Doris Green and her work please view:

Online Exhibit - Greennotation