Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 2, 2008
[Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, March 3, 2008. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.]
Present: Jill Cirasella, Tina Curran, Ray Cook, Doris Green, Mira Kim, Lynne Weber, Charlotte Wile.
1. Gestures - Circular Patterns
2. African Dance
TOPIC #1 - Gestures - Circular Patterns
The group continued the discussion of Ann Guest's essay “Gestures - Circular Patterns” (see the minutes for the February 4, 2008 meeting). Having studied the paper on their own since the last meeting, everyone felt they understood it much better. Tina and others said how much they liked these new methods of indicating paths and felt they would be very useful.
The group “moved” each example to see if they agreed on how it should be read. While there was a consensus on the meaning of many of the examples, the group felt some needed further clarification. The problematic examples are given below. (The example numbers are taken from Ann's paper.)
Ex. 3e. The group agreed that 3e is a cartwheel path that is experienced or conceived of as a turned around somersault path. Some people felt that 3e is too complicated and difficult to read (see below for more on this topic). Jill gave an example of when 3e might be useful: A series of paths that are all related and could be experienced as somersault paths, including one that is actually a cartwheel path. In this case it might be easiest to be consistent and think of all the paths as somersault paths, rather than switching from one path type to another.
Ex. 3f. Clarification is needed on the meaning of the turn sign.
Ex. 4a. In the February minutes Ann's example 4a was transcribed incorrectly. The notation should be as shown here in 4a.
Ex. 6a. Should the directions be interpreted using a localized kinesphere or the kinesphere for the whole body? This might also affect the system of reference that should be used.
Ex. 6b. There was disagreement about the meaning of the “x.”
Ex. 6c. Ray wondered what the meaning would be if the “x” was put in a circle instead of a diamond.
Ex. 7a. Where is the center of the path? Is it in the center of the head or above the head?
Ex. 7b. The same issue as 7a. Is the center of the circle in the knee or can it be above the knee?
Ex. 7c and 7d. What is the difference between drawing a path with the hand and drawing the same path with the arm? For example, in order to perform 7d would there be flexion in the wrist?
Ex. 7e. Same issue as in 7a.
Ex. 8a and 8d. Similar issue to 6a and 6b. Does the direction sign refer to a localized kinesphere, the whole body's kinesphere, or to either of those kinespheres? Also, is a linking bow needed so the side low indication isn't read as a separate action?
Ex. 8c. Same issue as 3e.
The discussion returned to 3e. Tina and others felt that 3e is overly complicated and hard to read. Isn't it better to just state the path in the simplest, most direct way? Otherwise the reader may become very frustrated. Charlotte said that the difference between a regular cartwheel path indication and 3e is intent.
This led to a discussion of whether a movement would be read differently when it is described with different symbols.
Tina: Should the notation be motivated by the internal intent of the movement, or should it be a representation of what the movement looks like externally?
Charlotte felt that using symbols that express different intents often changes the way the movement looks when it is performed, as well as the way it is experienced. For instance, an arm movement upward could be indicated with flexion in the shoulder or as a direction upward. The flexion sign might suggest a Shape Flow Shape Mode quality (i.e., body-oriented), while the direction sign might produce a Directional Shape Mode quality (i.e., space-oriented).
Mira gave another example. A plie written as knee flexions would probably be read differently from the same plie written as a lowering of the center of gravity.
Ray disagreed. He felt that the different spellings of the movement might make the mover think about the movement differently, but the movement would end up looking the same.
Tina: All meaning is contextual. Three points of context need to be considered: the intention of the creator, the context of the choreography or notation, and the purpose of the notation (e.g., is it important to make it accessible to the reader?). The notator needs to be aware and state what “stance” he/she is taking for that particular score.
Charlotte: We also need to be aware that assumptions we make in deciding theory issues often reflect the main purpose of notation at the Bureau, i.e., to document and preserve Western theatrical dance. If Motif Notation and Labanotation were invented for another purpose, it is possible that the system would be quite different. For instance, the Australian Aborigines often orient themselves in space using a Constant Cross. If they had invented the system, perhaps the Constant Cross rather than the Standard Cross would be the default system of reference.
Lynne: Keys can be used in Labanotation to show that the symbols are being given a different meaning.
Charlotte felt that the family of symbols under discussion should include specific indications for diagonal paths. [One idea for such signs is shown below in 1aa-1ff.]
Topic #2 - African Dance
The group continued its discussion of Doris's recordation of Agbadza.
Doris's revision of the score, which uses ideas from the February discussion, is shown below (Ex. 2a).
1. Ray pointed out that the “x” in the turn signs just says to turn a small amount. The exact amount of turn is not specified, so each turn of the arm in Doris's score could be a different amount. Doris said the turns should all be the same amount.There were questions about the meaning of the initiation sign in 2d. Charlotte gave this definition: The impulse for a movement (e.g., a breath), or the place in the body where the movement begins in time. In contrast, the body part that "leads" is the one that goes first in space. The body part that leads can be the same or different from the one that initiates. For example, when the arm reaches for something, the hand might both lead and initiate; or the hand could lead, and the shoulder or other body part could initiate. Similarly, in a jump in which the head leads, the initiation could be in the head, the feet, or another location.
2. After watching Doris do the movement, the group decided the arm movement is not continuous. The notation needs to show that there is a slight pause after the arms turn inward. Some people felt there was an accent or emphasis in the movement rather than a pause.
3. The palm facing needs to be repeated when the arms are turned inward. Alternately, a hold sign could be placed after the palm facing.
4. The flexion signs for the legs can be eliminated.
5. There should be pins by the stepping signs to show the correct placement of the feet.
6. The “leading with the thumb” indication does not accurately portray what is happening in arm. Various ideas were discussed to solve this problem, including:
- Eliminate the part leading indication.
- Show that the thumb side of the hand guides the movement (Ex. 2b).
- Indicate the movement as a successional turn of the arm.
- Give more information about the situation of the fingers, perhaps in a glossary. E.g., indicate that the fingers are joined and the thumb is separated (2c).
- Indicate the thumb side of the hand initiates the turn (Ex. 2d).
Other uses of the initiation bow were discussed, e.g., in notating Graham contractions, gymnastics movement, and horseback riding.