Thursday, January 28, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, November 26, 2007

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, November 26, 2007
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - July 1, 2008

[Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, November 26, 2007. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.]

Present: Tina Curran, Ray Cook, Mira Kim, Mei-Chen Lu, Charlotte Wile.


1. Dance Forms Animation
2. Distance


Rhonda Ryman has been using the animation software “Dance Forms” to visualize scores and help refine notation for Ann Hutchinson Guest (her forthcoming Cecchetti book), Billie Mahoney (tap notation), and Doris Green (Agbadza). Rhonda says literal translation of the notation illustrates timing, exact spatial elements, coordination, etc.

[For information on Dance Forms, see

The group looked at some Dance Forms clips on a computer.

The Dance Forms software creates animated versions of dances. It does not automatically translate notation into animation (e.g., like “LabanDancer”). However, some people in the group thought it may be possible to show notation on the screen next to Dance Forms animation. (The clips the group saw did not do this).

The group discussed how the software might be used for DNB activities.

One idea would be to use it in the DNB correspondence courses. Presently the correspondence courses only contain text, still pictures, and notation.

A method of showing movement physically could enhance the courses in three ways.

1. To clarify how notated examples in the course should be performed.
2. To show how the student performs his/her own notation.
3. To provide material for dictations.

Animation would be one way show movement physically. Web cams and video are other ways.

The pros and cons of each method were discussed. For instance, some people felt that video captures the quality of movement better than animation. On the other hand, animation might be useful for a beginning notation course, when the basic structure and mechanics of the movement is what is being studied, rather than qualitative aspects. The abstraction of movement shown in animations might be appropriate and clearer for some notation examples.

Would using the Dance Forms software be practical? What would it cost? How difficult is it to learn and use it? Is it time consuming to create an animation? Could DNB notators use it directly, or would it be necessary to have the animations created by someone else?

The same questions need to be considered for creating video examples. Perhaps Sheila Marion could be consulted concerning her experience with creating video examples for LabanLab.

Some students might find working with software frustrating. On the other hand, others might love it.

Maybe Dance Forms clips that have already been created could be used in some way. Likewise, are there animation clips that were created for the LabanDancer project that could be used?

Maybe the DNB could do a small pilot study, translating a few examples in the correspondence course into Dance Forms animations.

Topic #2 - DISTANCE

Mira is notating a hand movement in which the hand is contracted and the thumb is very near to the middle finger. For this notation she would like a way to indicate different degrees of “nearness.”

Ex. 2a is the indication for near. How can this sign be modified to indicate moderately near and very near?

The plain “x” signs cannot be used because in relationship bows they mean “surround” or “penetrate.” Ex. 2b says “surround near,” and 2c says “penetrate near.”

Charlotte suggested using the “x” in a space sign (a diamond) to show degrees of nearness. Ex. 2d would indicate moderately near. Ex. 2e would indicate very near. The signs could be combined, e.g., 2f would indicate surrounding, moderate nearness. 

What is the derivation of the meaning of the “x” in relationship bows? Maybe Ann Guest would know.

Mira pointed out that there is a precedent for using the “x” in a space sign to indicate distance. In Guest, Labanotation (4th edition), p. 154-155, the sign is used to show the distance of a leg gesture from the floor, as shown here below in 2g.

In all the examples in Labanotation, the distance sign is placed in the support column. The group wondered if placing the sign in a gesture column might be clearer since the sign refers to distance of the gesturing leg (Ex. 2h). However, maybe this would be a problem if other signs, such as pins, were in the gesture column.

As has happened in other meetings, the topic included discussion of standardization. Since the Labanotation text puts the distance sign in the support column (2g), would the notator need to glossarize placement in the gesture column, as in 2h? 

Ray said that in creating these symbols it is important to keep in mind that distance (space) is implied in all movement. This lead to a philosophical discussion of the nature of movement and what symbols denote. Aren't space, time, and shape found in every movement? A symbol says what is a primary aspect.

Charlotte: In the family of relationship indications there is a sign for “near.” However, there is not a sign for “far.” Such a sign would be useful.

Various signs were considered:

Ex. 2i. A near bow modified with a far space sign. The group felt this does not work because it seems contradictory: Be far while you are near.
Ex. 2j. An angular version of the near sign.
Ex. 2k. A dotted bow.
Ex. 2l. A bow with vertical lines. [This could also be drawn as in 2m].

Of the ideas presented, the group liked the idea of a bow with vertical lines best.

Another idea would be to change the established meaning of 2n. Presently that bow means “near.” It could be changed so it represents any distance. Then 2o would indicate near, and 2p would indicate far. Everyone felt this might be confusing since the meaning of 2n as “near” is so well established and ingrained in the system. Finding a new bow, such as the ones in 2i-2m, would be less disruptive.

Ray: On the other hand, if changing the system would make a major improvement, perhaps it should be considered. This is done in other disciplines like music and writing. A glossary could be used to clarify the change until its meaning is reestablished at ICKL or in new texts.

[Addendum from Charlotte: Maybe there should also be a way to indicate “moderate distance,” i.e., “neither near nor far.”

Perhaps such a bow could combine the near and far bows. For instance, one idea would be 2q. Another idea is shown in 2r.

Thus, one way distance could be shown is with the family of bows in 2s. A different idea is shown in 2t.]

Tina asked where “far” would be in the progression of relationships. [See, for example, the chart “Relationships - Progression in Degree of Relating,” in Guest and Curran, Your Move (2008), p. 289.] She wondered if “far” is actually a relationship. Maybe such a sign does not belong in the family of relationship bows at all.

Charlotte said she sees “far” as the opposite of “near.” Since near is considered a relationship, then far should also be considered a relationship.

As a side issue, the importance of terminology was discussed. Everyone agreed that “words matter.” For instance, in Guest and Curran, Your Move, p. 3 it says the sign for stillness contains the sign for “outflowing,” This is sometimes confusing for people in the LMA community because they associate the word “flow” with Effort Flow and Shape Flow. Charlotte said she thinks the use of that word is the reason people in the LMA community sometimes misunderstand the meaning of the stillness sign.

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