Thursday, January 28, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, April 2, 2007

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, April 2, 2007
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - September 12, 2007
[Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, April 2, 2007. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.]
Present: Sandra Aberkalns, Jen Garda, , Doris Green, Mira Kim, Mei-Chen Lu, Vicki Watts, Charlotte Wile.
1. Altitudes
2. African dance- notating these legendary works.
3. Fred Bolder's postings.
4. Top of the head.

Topic #1: Altitudes

In a previous Open Theory Meeting, the group discussed Charlotte's write-up of "altitudes." Charlotte used ideas from that discussion to revise the write-up. The revision, which is given below on page 2-3 of these minutes, was discussed at the April 2 meeting.
Before the April 2 meeting, Ann Hutchinson Guest e-mailed the following comments concerning the revision.
"Altitude: I think your [Charlotte's] idea will work, I know Ray [Cook] was keen to get indications of this kind. The use of X and N (inverted) for distance relates to their use with the center of gravity sign; within the vertical oblong, they have the broader meaning. So I am happy with this - congrats!"
Charlotte: Ann and Sandra also deserve credit for the altitude indications. Beginning a number of years ago, Ray and I discussed the need for the signs. We searched and searched for indications, and put several ideas on the Theory Bulletin Board, but none seemed satisfactory. Then, at one of the annual DNB theory meetings Ann came up with the idea of using the X and N (inverted) signs inside the sign for the vertical direction. At first we thought of having three variables (high, medium, low). As I recall, Sandra suggested the idea of having six variables.
Doris: In African dance the legs are usually bent. This means that “normal” position would have a lower altitude than 158k in the write-up. If the altitude indications were used to notate African dance, maybe the meaning of symbols would need to be changed so that the "middle altitude" in the African score would be similar to the "slightly low altitude" (158g) in the write-up.
Doris' idea could be established in a glossary.
Vicki wondered if the word "altitude" is the best term for the concept, since it might connote movement in which the feet are not in contact with the floor.
Charlotte: There may be a better term, but altitude seems to be the best one so far of those that have been considered. Any term containing "gravity" or "level" doesn't work, because those words are used in the system already for different concepts.
The group discussed what the word “floor" in the write-up means. For instance, if the movement is in a space where there is a balcony, is the floor the place the "mover" (i.e., the person represented or assumed to be at the bottom of a staff) is standing on, or is the floor the surface which the people in the balcony are standing on? Doris: this issue came up when we did films of dancing.
The group agreed that the location of an altitude should be determined in relation to the mover. In other words, the "floor" would be the mover's floor.
Vicki: There is a parallel idea to "altitude" in Benish notation: vertical location.
Sandra: “Altitudes” are more subjective and broader than “center of gravity” locations.
Charlotte: The altitude signs were developed out of a need for them in Motif Notation and dance education. This is the reason the “altitudes” by default are broadly defined. However, in other applications or for Labanotation, a glossary could define the altitudes more specifically.

Charlotte's write-up of the concept is given below.

Topic #2: African Dance – Notating These Legendary Works
Doris discussed her work as a teacher and as a Fulbright scholar in Africa using notation to record African Dance. She wants to create an archive of African dances.
To preserve the dances, both the movement and its musical accompaniment must be recorded accurately.
Doris has invented a notation system for notating African dances called "Greenotation." The system contains Labanotation and indications for accurately and precisely depicting the dances and their musical accompaniment. An example of the notation is given below. The columns on the left indicate the rhythm of each instrument. The Labanotation indicates the movement.
The music in African dances controls the dances. Notators of African dance must also know the music for the dance.
Customarily African dances and their musical accompaniment exist only in the "oral tradition." The musicians for the dances usually don’t read music; they play by ear and by rote. The people who know the dances and music are dying out. Doris feels it is imperative that the dances be notated as soon as possible, otherwise they will be lost.
Since the people who are experts in African dance are dying out, the dances need to be notated in detail so that the technique and style of the dances and their musical accompaniment can be preserved.
Doris has written extensively on this subject and has notated many dances using her notation system (e.g., see the journal Traditions, [edited by Doris Green]). She will confer with Mei to make sure that the library has copies of her writings and notation.

Topic #3: Fred Bolder's Postings – Ann Hutchinson Guest's Comments.
Before the April 2 meeting Ann Hutchinson Guest e-mailed the following comments concerning Fred Bolder's postings (see the March 5, 2007 minutes). (Ann's comments have been posted on the Theory Bulletin Board).
"I don't know what book he [Fred Bolder] is (was) using, but certain things need filling in. I gathered that he is talking about ballroom dancing. I know that you and/or ? have replied to some extent to his Feb 5th questions, but I would like to add my comments.
1a. The foot will be placed forward (as this is the direction given) and, as the weight is transferred there will be a swivelling action.
1b. Because it is on a curved path, the foot will be placed diagonally forward left, part of the turning taking place on the right leg as the left moves into the step, the rest of the turn will be on the left foot, a blind turn, this because the leg will have turned outward as it takes the step so that it is back to the previous rotational state when the turn is finished. This automatic leg rotation is part of walking on a circular path, probably needs physical demonstration. Most ballroom people are unaware that they rotate the leg and follow it with a blind turn (non-swivel turn). Ex. 1e illustrates 1b.
1c. The convention has been that a very small vertical connecting bow means a total overlap of the two actions, therefore this is the same as 1a.
1d. The step starts without turning, then combines weight transfer and turning, then the turning continues after the weight is fully transferred. This is better illustrated with longer symbols.
2a. 1/4 of a circle on one step is rather a lot; this pattern is possible, but the sense of a circular path that is being followed is not present. If there is a change of Front, the step in place should have a turn sign, not a path sign.
2b. Here again there is an awful amount of circular path, I sense that this is a theoretical example, not a physical example. In any case it has long been established that when walking on circular paths, a step in place among directional steps does not include any change of front, thus 3/4 of a circle will need to be achieved on the first two steps, very uncomfortable.

[Fred Bolder's March 1, 2007 posting]: The example with four steps in place while making a full circle to the right has been considered by some as being acceptable because, in performing it, the feet have to rotate out and in as they step on a circular path, thus they will leave a very small circle on the floor. The feet do not actually step under each other, which, if done, would be closer to a swivel turn.

Ballroom Circling. When moving around the room anticlockwise, the understanding is either of one huge circle or of straight lines as one moves along the walls, and then a clear cut 1/4 turn as you turn the corner and follow the next wall. In the former the amount of turn needed to keep on this path is subsumed into the footwork and turning actions. This is why orientation according to the center of the room, the focal point, can be much easier to follow. Maria Szentpal was the expert on writing ballroom sequences."
The group felt that Ann's comments confirmed their responses to Fred's postings (see the March 5, 2007 minutes).
Topic #4: Top of the Head
In her response to the minutes for the March 5, 2007 Open Theory Meeting, Ann Hutchinson Guest e-mailed the following comments concerning the "top of the head," which had been listed as an issue that might be discussed in the April 2 meeting.
"Top of the Head. I have always used Knust's sign, the letter C with an 'above' pin in the middle. In tilts of the head, (C with a direction sign) the direction given is that into which the top of the head points, but the actual top of the head sign is only used, in my experience, for contacts, near relationship, support, etc."
The group discussed Charlotte's idea concerning the sign for "top of the head."
The symbols used in the discussion were:

Charlotte: The established sign for the top of the head is shown in Ex. 1a. Signs for surfaces of the head, such as the face (Ex. 1b) or the side of the head (Ex. 1c), contain an area sign (a box). Isn't the "top of the head" a surface? If so, to be consistent, perhaps its indication should also include an area sign, i.e., a box around the letter "C" with the "above" pin in the middle (Ex. 1d).
During the discussion Charlotte argued in favor of Ex. 1d. Most (if not all) of the rest of the group did not like Ex. d. Several reasons were given, including:
  1. 1. The sign without a box (Ex. 1a) is a well established sign that functions well in the system. Changing it to create more "consistency" in the system does not seem in this case to be important.
    2. The "top of the head" seems more analogous to other "features" of the head, such as the eyes (Ex. 1e) or the noise (Ex. 1f), rather than to a "surface of the head." Head features are indicated without a box, so the "top of the head" should also be indicated without a box.
    3. Indications such as Ex. 1b and Ex. 1c are used to show facing in a direction, as in Ex. 1g. The top of the head does not ordinarily "face in a direction."
    4. Ex. 1a seems cluttered and would be hard to see if it was drawn small.
Further development of the entire family of head signs may be needed, since the present symbols do not always work. Sandra has written scores in which there is a need for face symbols that are not presently in the system. Carl Wolz proposed one idea for a new set of symbols. See Carl Wolz, “A Proposal for New Symbols for the Head and its Parts," ICKL, 2005.
In dances that use movements of the face, the system of writing may need to be adjusted, since there is so little room on the Labanotation staff for the head symbols.
Ex. 1a is sometimes used to indicate a feature, and sometimes is used to indicate a surface.
Charlotte: If the same symbol has different meanings, that can be confusing. Perhaps there should be two symbols: one for the top of the head as a "feature" and one for the top of the head as a "surface."
Sandra: The context of the movement will determine which meaning should be used, so there is no need for two symbols.
Vicki: “Meaning is use.”
Knust says Ex. 2a means the same thing as Ex. 2b (a head sign in a box without ticks) (Dictionary of Kinetography Laban, p. 98).
Charlotte: In Motif Notation, I use Ex. 2b to indicate “any surface of the head.”
Is there a difference between Ex. 2c and Ex. 2d?
Charlotte: Maybe the difference is in intent. Ex. 2c just says "touch the head"; Ex. 2d says touch any surface of the head.

No comments:

Post a Comment