Submitted by Ann Hutchinson Guest and Sheila Marion -- February 16, 2006
[Following is a reprint of correspondence between Sheila Marion and Ann Hutchinson Guest. Examples cited in red refer to examples in this posting. Examples cited with a plain number can be found in Ann Hutchinson Guest, Labanotation: The System of Analyzing and Labanotation, 2005.]
[Sheila Marion wrote]:
A question has come up about cancellation for rotations, and I thought I would ask you what you think.
Recently, I heard that a “back to normal” sign should not be used to cancel both a tilt and rotation, instead one should use an “unrotate” sign (Ex. 1 below) to cancel the rotation (along with a “back to normal” sign to cancel the tilt.
I started to look for information in your revised Labanotation, and found what might possibly seem like conflicting statements if read out of context of the whole:
• Page 214, paragraph 2: … “A rotation or twist of the limbs, the head and whole torso, has in the past been cancelled by a back to normal sign, 384h; however, it is now appropriately cancelled by the composite turn sign (Ex. 2 below), which for gestures means rotated/twisted neither inward or outward, 348i. It should be noted that a back to normal sign is often used to indicate the normal, upright body alignment for the torso and head, 348 j.” [348 j, however, does not include a rotation to be cancelled.]
• Page 263, heading “Cancellation of Simple Rotations” in the Chapter Rotations of the Torso and Head, states: “A rotation or twist in one direction is valid until cancelled. A return to the normal untwisted state is shown by the composite turn sign, written as in Ex. 3 or Ex. 4 below; by the back to normal sign (Ex. 5 below); or by the ‘away’ sign (Ex. 6 below). Because the back to normal sign will also cancel any accompanying tilt or shift, if only the rotation is to be cancelled and the tilt or shift is to remain, the back to normal sign is not an appropriate choice.”
• Page 245, heading at the bottom of the page “Cancellation of Rotations” in the Chapter on Turning (Rotation) of the limbs, states that “A specifically stated rotation remains in effect until cancelled by another rotation or by the indication of the parallel state.”
All this would seem to confirm my understanding that a back to normal sign returns the head, torso and its parts to the upright, unrotated, unbent position, but that for rotations of the limbs, a back to normal sign is not appropriate to cancel a specifically stated rotation. Would you agree?
[Following is Ann Hutchinson Guest’s response]:
Thank you [Sheila] for bringing these details to my attention.
If one is concerned with motivation and expression, the following can be said, although I know not everyone is into this kind of detail:
Canceling a torso tilt:
- a back-to-normal sign returns the torso to the normal (upright) state.
- a place high sign focuses on the directional destination.
The place high sign can be performed with a more deliberate sense of directional destination.
The back-to-normal sign will cancel both a tilt and a rotation/twist. Thus, if only the twist is to be cancelled, the unrotated sign needs to be used. If only the tilt is to be cancelled, then the place high sign needs to be used.
There has been a tendency recently to use the unrotated sign to cancel twists/rotations for the limbs, it gives the destination, there is no question as to what is being cancelled. It is also used by KIN as they have no back-to-normal sign.
There are instances where I would like the back-to-normal sign for rotations to mean "what is natural for that person." But there we are getting sophisticated! On the other hand, the need can arise.