Thursday, January 28, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, June 4, 2007

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, June 4, 2007
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 15, 2007
[Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, June 4, 2007. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.]
Present: Sandra Aberkalns, Zack Brown, Ray Cook, Jen Garda, Doris Green, Mira Kim, Mei-Chen Lu, Rose Ann Tom, Christina Schoenfeld, Lynne Weber.
[Note from Charlotte Wile: I was not present at this meeting, so I based these minutes on a DVD of the discussion. Also, for the notation examples I used pictures taken during the meeting.]
1. Floor Work Staff
2. Bar lines
3. Repeat signs
4. Graham contractions
5. Addendum- African Dance

Topic 1: Floor Work Staff
Zack brought up the topic of Floor Plan staffs.
Floor plan staffs were discussed in a 1989 ICKL paper by Maria Szentpal; and Guest and Kolff, Advanced Labanotation: Floorwork, Basic Acrobatics.
The floor plan staff extends the support columns so they take up the center four columns. The center line in the staff is not drawn. This makes it easier to write multiple supports and eliminates the constraint of having to indicate right and left supports to the right and left of the center line.
Sandra said she doesn’t know of anyone who uses the floor plan staffs. The standard staff seems to suit most purposes.
Maybe the floor plan staffs were developed for notating folk dance.
It was not clear if the floor work staff could extend into the starting positions, as in Ex. 1a. Sandra said she did not think so.

Question: How many columns are there in the floor plan staff? Theoretically there could be any number of columns for supports. Since the staff clearly shows where the supports are indicated, supports would not be mistaken for gestures. However, in some cases it may be useful to clarify in a glossary how columns are being used, e.g., when the number of columns changes.
The group discussed when glossaries need to be used for this or other indications. There is still controversy concerning this issue. [Addendum from Charlotte Wile: See the Theory Bulletin Board, Wile et al., “Developing Laban Theory” thread (April 25, 2007).]
Topic 2: Bar lines
Ray: How should bar lines that join staffs for multiple movers be drawn when one mover exits or enters? Various examples were given, e.g.:
Ex. 2a. Three staffs, with “A” exiting. The bottom line on the double bar line for “A” should be extended slightly; it should not be drawn connected to “B.”
Ex. 2b. “D” is joining in the other dancers’ movement. The rule says there needs to be a double bar line to show “D”’s beginning movement. However, Ray feels this is “overwriting.” He feels the double bar line should only be required if “D” is entering from offstage and doing something different from the other dancers. But if “D” is just joining the other dancers, he feels it would be better to have just a single bar line (Ex. 2c).
Question: In Ex. 2b, which dancer is “D” joining?
Ray’s idea: In 2d “D” does the same as “A.” This isn’t in the system. Ray likes this method better than extending bar lines through the staffs, which he said can be confusing.
Various ideas were considered for showing how the notation can be laid out to show dancers “joining in” or exiting the movement, as in 2e,f (the circles in the drawings represent binder holes). The examples show how the staff for the “joining in” dancers can be drawn on the left side of the main staff.

The topic led to a discussion of how and why new symbols and writing develop. Sometimes they evolve from what is needed for particular scores. However, sometimes the theory comes first (e.g., as with floor work staffs), and the usefulness of the symbols is discovered later.
Topic 3: Repeat signs
Ray: Computers make it easy to write out repeats. However, using repeats signs often makes it easier to read the notation and see the structure of the movement.
When the repeated movement occurs on a different page, it is a good idea to show in the repeat sign which measures are being repeated. For instance in Ex. 3a a repeat sign in parentheses says the movement on page 11 is a repeat of measures 1-9 on page 2. (Some people in the group felt the repeat sign should be enclosed by brackets instead of parentheses.) Alternately, the movement can be written out, with a repeat sign written to the side.
The group discussed whether measure numbers go on the bottom of repeat signs, as in 3a, or on the top, as in 3b. In Guest, Labanotation, 4th edition, p. 306, they are on the bottom.
Re: Sectional repeats. In Ex. 3c dancer “B” is doing the “A” section of movement. Later in the score, dancer “A” does section “A” (Ex. 3d).
Each score contains its own issues and may require a unique solution for that particular dance.

Topic 4: Graham contractions
This discussion was about notating the way particular dancers perform Graham hand and body contractions. The manner in which these movements are performed varies from performer to performer and has changed over time. The group felt it would be useful to include these stylistic differences in certain Graham scores. Unfortunately, most of this part of the meeting was not recorded on the DVD, so I couldn’t transcribe much of what was said.
Examples that were given for notating contractions of the hands in detail are shown below. These details could be explained in a glossary, and shorthands for the indications could be used in the main part of the score. Readers would know that the notation recorded a particular stager’s idea of how the movement should be performed.
The notator needs to decide when such detailed writing enhances the score, and when it becomes “overwriting.”
Knust [p. 764?] wrote contractions as in 4g. The sign could be modified to show various ways contractions are performed, e.g., Ex. 4h (a contraction in which there is “sucking in and up.”).

Addendum: African Dance
In the May meeting Doris Green’s method of notating was discussed. Doris was unable to attend the June meeting, but asked that further information about her work be included in the minutes:
“…[I] was surprised that there were several people in the room at the last meeting who did not know that I created Greenotation. Greenotation was created because there was no system to notate music of African instruments. These instruments control the movements of the African dance. It is impossible to have accurate notation of African dance through Labanotation without understanding the role these instruments play. Perhaps this can be mentioned in the minutes. Or they can be referred to my website or articles on the internet.
This site presents a notation from the country Senegal. Both music and dance are notated along with the legend that explains the music and each step of the dance. One can see where the dancer steps in relationship with the music.
The below is the Ohio State dance department link that contains my work.

No comments:

Post a Comment