Thursday, January 28, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, June 28, 2009

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, June 28, 2009
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 9, 2009

Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, June 28, 2009. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile. The meeting was moderated by Tina Curran and Ilene Fox.

Present: Ray Cook, Tina Curran, Ilene Fox, Ann Hutchinson Guest, Susan Gingrasso, Oona Haaranen, Teresa Heiland, Maryann Peterson, Emily Polizzotto, and Charlotte Wile.

Photos of the meeting can be found here:


1) ICKL Motif Fellows Proposal
2) “Any Prime Action” vs. “Any Movement”
3) Tempo Signs
4) Addendum - Revised Agbadza score


1.2 The group discussed the proposal for ICKL Motif Fellows, which will be considered at the August, 2009 ICKL conference in Thailand. The proposal is in the June 8, 2008 Open Theory Meeting minutes.


2.2 Charlotte: In Motif Notation, what is the meaning of the vertical the line in 2a? Does it indicate “any prime action” or “any movement”?

2.3 For instance, 2b and 2c show two paradigms for movement components. [Note from Charlotte: Since a sign for “any Dynamics” has not been established, I just indicated it with a dashed blue circle. For a discussion of generic Dynamic signs, see the September 10, 2007 Open Theory Meeting minutes.]

2.4 In 2b the vertical line says do “any movement,” i.e., a prime action, or a direction, or qualities (Effort etc.), or a Shape variable. What should be the indication that says do “any prime action” (i.e., turning, or falling, etc.)?

2.5 In contrast, in 2c the vertical line says do “any prime action.” Using that paradigm, what should be the sign for “any movement”?
2.6 In other words, if the notation contains a series of lines (2d), what would those lines indicate? Would they say do “any unspecified movement”? Or would they just say do an unspecified “prime action”?
2.7 What is “movement”?

2.8 The group began by discussing the concept of “movement.”

2.9 Charlotte suggested that “movement” can be divided into four categories: actions, directions, qualitative aspects (Effort and dynamics), and Shape distinctions. Assume that a vertical line (2a) indicates “any movement.” The line could be interpreted doing anything from those four categories. As an example, 2d could be interpreted as turning, then moving with Light Effort, then pausing, then going forward.

2.10 Ann said that Language of Dance uses a different paradigm. The category of “prime actions” includes directions, as well as flexing, extending, turning, etc. Only those prime actions are considered “movements.” Effort and dynamics are in a different category. They are not movements by themselves; rather they state how the movement is to be performed. [In other words, the “basic actions” are verbs, whereas Effort and dynamics are adverbs. See Guest and Curran, Your Move, xxxix -xli].

2.11 Furthermore, Ann went on to say that the Shape distinctions in 2b and 2c could be considered movements. However, one of the things that she learned from Knust is that a relationship is not movement. Rather it is the result of movement.

2.12 Charlotte said she feels the LOD paradigm does not always work because it implies that qualitative aspects cannot be written by themselves. They can only be written as modifications of an action, as in 2e. In 2e the reader is told to focus on another aspect of the movement (e.g., such as an action or a direction) as well as the quality of the movement. But what if the quality of the movement is all that is important, e.g., the mover should just focus on moving with the given Effort qualities. This would be best expressed just using Effort indications, as in 2f. In other words, the Effort and other dynamic indications are not just subsidiary modifications of something else; rather they are by themselves “movement events.” 
2.13 Ann said that the term “manner of moving” might be better than “movement events.” Charlotte liked this idea.

2.14 Ann conceded that it might be OK as a convention to write just the Effort indications, as in 2f. It may not matter that the verb is missing in the statement. The notation in 2f could be read as “be Light' etc.

2.15 Charlotte: Another way to think about the definition of movement is to consider two possibilities: pausing vs. motion. In pausing there is no change. In motion some change takes place. That change might be an action, a direction, a quality, etc. Any such change can be considered “movement.”

2.16 Ann wondered why Charlotte had listed direction as a separate category in 2b, and 2c. In Your Move direction is considered a prime action. Charlotte's LMA background may make her see direction in space as category by itself. Teresa concurred that in LMA movement is sometimes categorized as “What,” “To Where,” and “How.”

2.17 Tina pointed out that in Your Move actions are divided into categories, one of which is Spatial aspects [see page xxxix].

2.18 Charlotte wondered if the reason direction in L/N might be associated with the action category is because direction signs are the basis of the system and are imbued with the idea of verbs and actions.

2.19 Ann said that it was Laban's idea to make direction signs the basis of the system. He said that the system described “movement” (progression). However, later people realized that direction signs actually describe destination. That was why the signs for progression in a direction were later developed.

2.20 Terms and Indications

2.21 Terms and indications for the generic indications in the paradigms were discussed.

2.22 Charlotte said the vertical line in 2a is usually called an “action stroke.” She feels that term should not be used for the most generic indication (the one at the top of the paradigms) because in LMA the term “action” connotes “body actions.” The body actions are a subcategory that just includes movements such as turning, falling, aerial movement, etc. (i.e., as in 2c).

2.23 Ann said the term “action stroke” came from Laban.

2.24 Susan agreed that the term “action” has a more specific meaning than what is needed for the overall indication. She suggested the term “movement event.” Ilene suggested the term “do something.”

2.25 In the 2004-2005 Motif Notation meetings participants had various definitions for 2a, including “do something,” “any action,” “an action,” “action, verb, or adverb,” “action appropriate with context,” and “something happens.” [A summary of all the indications discussed at those meetings will be posted on the Bulletin Board sometime in the future].

2.26 Ilene suggested using the plain line (2a) as the generic indication for the prime actions. It would be called an “action stroke,” since that is the established term for the sign. A vertical line with an ad lib. sign at the bottom (2g) could be used for the “do something” sign. [The paradigm would be 2h if prime actions and directions are considered separate categories. It would be 2i if direction is included in the prime action category].

2.27 Charlotte wondered how this relates to the meaning of symbols in Your Move. On pages 2-3 it explains that the line with an ad lib. sign indicates “any movement,” while the plain line indicates an “appropriate movement.” [Addendum from Charlotte; In other words, wouldn't that mean the “prime action” signs in 2h and 2i indicate “any appropriate prime action”?]

2.28 Ann talked about the derivation of 2g. She explained that the ad lib. sign was added to the action stroke to connect Motif Notation with Labanotation. As an example, in Labanotation suppose you are in first position with the feet on the ground. You jump into second position. You wait. Then you want to jump back, so you cancel the hold sign by two action strokes. How do you know how to interpret the action strokes? What if you want them to mean “do anything” [as opposed to doing what is appropriate in the context of the movement]? Ann's solution was to add the ad lib. sign at the bottom of the action strokes. [Addendum from Charlotte. I think this may have been discussed at ICKL in 1989.]

2.29 Ray felt the “appropriate” indication is too ambiguous. How would the reader know what is “appropriate”? If a sign is to be read as “do what is appropriate,” that could be stipulated in a glossary.

2.30 Ann said she has found that in certain scores it is useful to have both the sign for “do the appropriate action” as well as “do any action.”

2.31 Ilene: In L/N, when the plain lines (2a) are used for an aerial movement, the reader would automatically do appropriate leg gestures.

2.32 Ray disagreed. He said that the reader would not necessarily know what is appropriate unless he is familiar with the style of the movement in the score. What is “appropriate” depends upon ones training.

2.33 Tina said that Ann's Labanotation jump example probably wouldn't come up in Motif Notation. This may be one of those situations in which we should look at Motif Notation across the larger spectrum, e.g., in relation to the LMA work as well as Labanotation. Keeping that in mind, she liked Ilene's idea of using 2g for “do anything” and 2a for “any prime action.”

2.34 Charlotte asked if what is being proposed would change the meaning of 2g from what has been established in Your Move.

2.35 Tina said she did not feel that using 2g to mean “do anything” is really a change in the system. Rather it is expanding on what is already there.

2.36 Charlotte asked what 2g could be called. The group had various ideas: “event sign”, “do anything sign,” “do something” sign.

2.37 Ilene felt the name of the sign should not include the word “movement” because of what Ann had said earlier about the definition of “movement.”

2.38 Other suggestions were given for the sign in 2g.

2.39 Susan suggested 2j. The group felt that sign wouldn't work because it looks like the sign for “either” [as in “either the right or left arm” (2k)].
2.40 Ann suggested 2l. Knust used that sign for “any timing.” However, now that we have the free timing sign [2m] perhaps 2l could be used instead to mean “do anything.”
2.41 Side Issues

2.42 As a side issue, Ray pointed out that the sign for “any Effort' in the paradigms (2b, 2c, 2h, 2i) could be confusing because it looks like the slash that is used in LN and Motif Notation to mean “don't,” or “not.”

2.43 Ray also brought up the issue of standardization. Symbols have various meanings depending upon when the score was written and which text or other material (ICKL) is used as the standard. This would seem to place a heavy burden on readers to know all the various changes that have taken place in the system.

2.44 Teresa said people who study literature often need to have glossaries for the English used in a given period. For instance, the word “nunnery” in Shakespeare needs to be clarified for today's readers. It is the nature of language to evolve. Since we are trying to communicate, we need to be responsible and make glossaries.

2.45 Also, as an addendum after the meeting, Ray said the discussion of terms made him think of others that may need to be clarified, such as “any timing” vs. “free timing.” Also, “structured improvisation” (involving consciously made decisions), vs. “free improvisation” (involving unconscious decisions in which there is no thinking).

2.46 Summary

2.47 At the end of the discussion the group concurred that the sign in 2g would be good for “do anything” and the sign in 2a would be good for “any prime action.” The issue of whether “prime actions” would include directions [see 2.16-2.18 above] was left to be decided at another time.


3.2 At the June 8, 2008 meeting Ilene proposed an idea for tempo signs: 3a) very slow, 3b) slow, 3c) fast, 3d) very fast.

3.3 Ilene asked if anyone was using those signs in their teaching. Several people in the group said they have been using the signs and like them.

3.4 Charlotte likes the signs, but suggested having the measurement signs touch the time sign, as in 3e.That way the linking bow would not be necessary and the sign would be less cumbersome. In an addendum Ilene said she feels 3a-3d are clearer and easier to read.

3.5 Ann said she thought the top of the hour glass in the sign should be black, as in 3f.

4.2 On September 14 Doris Green e-mailed a revision of her score for Agbadza, which had been discussed in previous meetings (e.g., see March 3, 2008 Open Theory Meeting minutes).

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