Submitted by Fox et al. - March 1, 2002
[Following is a reprint of a discussion that took place on the LabanTalk and CMAPlus listservs in February, 2002]
Discussion 1, Ilene Fox and Charlotte Wile, February 1, 2002
At a recent meeting at the Dance Notation Bureau, the names that are used for Laban based documentation were discussed.
In the past many people divided Laban based notation into "Labanotation," "Motif Writing," and "Effort/Shape writing." The three scripts were usually considered separate systems.
In recent years other terms and paradigms have been explored. For instance, some people use "Labanotation" as the overall umbrella term for a system that includes two subscripts: "Structured Notation," which preserves movement in relative detail, and "Motif Description," which depicts leitmotifs and main ideas. Qualitative indications, such as Effort and other dynamic signs, are included in both subscripts.
At the recent meeting, the term "Motif Notation" was suggested to replace "Motif Description." Many present liked this suggestion. There was also some consensus that the term "Structured Notation" is not the most desirable, but no new name emerged from the discussion that was preferred.
We would be interested in knowing your ideas on this issue. How do you organize the various Laban based scripts? What names or terms do you use?
Discussion 2, Gill Wright Miller, February 1, 2002
Here at Denison we have come to use several terms meaning different things. We appreciate the distinctions made relative to the terms and feel no need to have any sort of "umbrella term" for all or most systems. We use the terms "Labanotation" (with the translation "Kinetography Laban") for Labanotation and its scores, "Laban Movement Analysis" (to describe a system of Body, Effort. Shape/Space--BESS) and "Motif Descriptions" for its scoring. We make a conscious effort to distinguish between quantitative scoring and qualitative scoring. This distinction exists in the constructions of research as well, so it serves us well in the university. (I am referring to differences between empirical, ethnographic, interviewing, content analysis, etc., research.)
From my perspective as the instructor, I don't agree that "Labanotation" is the overall umbrella. I would not be able to support that terminology. What I have traditionally been calling "Labanotation scoring" has a different conceptual end than what I have been calling "Motifing," and that distinction is appropriate and important. That is, both "ends" have their reasons and I would not like to see that blurred.
The problem I have with the term "Structured Notation" is that it is redundant. All Notation and Motifs are structured. Without the benefit of the discussion you all had, I don't know what problems this is meant to solve. I want to agree (and register my vote) that I don't care for the apparent distinction being implied by "Structured NOTATION" and "Motif DESCRIPTION." (I am capitalizing the second word in each pair for emphasis. Both are structured systems, both are notation systems. Both are descriptions. And frankly, both are only motifs. So I vote we continue thinking about the DISTINCTION we are trying to communicate by the name, and not be so attached to the names we have been using in the past.
Off the cuff, I am in favor of "Quantitative Notation" and "Qualitative Notation" indicating that with the former more decisions in physical considerations have been offered to the reader, and with the latter more choices in physical interpretation have been offered. BOTH are specific systems and have aims and goals for the readers, but the aims/goals are different. The differences, however, are not based on one system being more "specific" and the other more "open."
Discussion 3, Judy Van Zile, February 1, 2002
This discussion brings to mind many of the past when "effort/shape" practitioners decided to change their name to Certified Movement Analysts and use the term "Labananalysis."
At that time, and still today, I objected to their use of the term Labananalysis. To me this suggests analysis based on all of the various theories originated by Laban and further developed by others--Labanotation, effort/shape, motif, choreutics, etc.
I like the term Labananalysis when used in such an embrassive way, and when it refers specifically to analysis.
There is a great deal of analysis involved in any of the notational systems--in fact analysis is at their core--you can't notate without first analyzing and understanding. But once a notation is "done" (regardless of whether it is what we currently call Labanotation, Kinetography Laban, Motif Description, effort/shape, etc.), the notation can be used for much more sophisticated analyses. (E.g., looking at choreographic structure, phrasing, etc.)
I agree with Gill [Discussion 2] that we should differentiate between notation and description, and would add that we need the further differentiation of analysis--at the pre-notational and post-notational levels.
I don't think, however, that I could accept what we currently describe as "structured description/notation" as quantitative. We have shown time and again that the same movement can be notated in many different ways--just like, as I have argued elsewhere, there can be many "translations" from one language to another.
Discussion 4, Iris Garland, February 1, 2002
I hate renaming things because it only seems to add confusion rather than clarification. Really, LMA would be the umbrella term if it was not so recently associated with a certification program that is separate from Labanotation certification. For me it is the theory which makes sense of all the rest.
Is not Labanotation a detailed form of movement analysis?
Motif and E/S are truncated forms of Labanotation where the focus is on particular aspects of movement. These forms are still directly related to Labanotation. Motif was described to me as a kind of shorthand for Labanotation that describes the essence of the movement rather than the details.... rather like seeing the forest and not being distracted by all the trees. I do not think of E/S as a 'system' of writing because those terms and symbols are subsumed within both Labanotation and Motif.
Well, I've succeeded in muddying the waters, so I'll quit now.
Discussion 5, Gill Wright Miller, February 1, 2002
[Responding to Judy Van Zile’s comments in Discussion 3]
If this is a virtual location for discussion, and I hope it is, then I would like to respond to one of Judy's statements quoted below.
Judy Van Zile said: "I don't think, however, that I could accept what we currently describe as "structured description/notation" as quantitative. We have shown time and again that the same movement can be notated in many different ways--just like, as I have argued elsewhere, there can be many "translations" from one language to another."
The fact that there are many ways to notate a movement does not, in any way, keep any or all of those versions (even simultaneously) from being "quantitative." Quantitative analysis (a term that comes originally from the field of chemistry) refers to an analysis of a substance (in this case the movement) to determine the amounts and proportions of its constituents (which a Labanotated score certainly does.) That two people measure differently, even within the same system, might be tantamount to yards and metres. The distance is the same, but the way of measuring (while functioning in the same way) has different names that highlight different component parts and pieces, and in so doing "slant" the interpretations (or in language that might be called "connotations") in slightly different ways. That translations use different words from one language to another does not mean they are not (both) "quantitative."
One could argue that motifing does that as well, but I believe (somewhat) in relativity. Here, what that means to me is that motifing and the kind of scoring that values BESS more than "which body part for exactly how long relative to which other body part for exactly how long" privileges the qualitative over the quantitative. And, by the way, "qualitative analysis" also comes originally from chemistry, and refers to the analysis of a substance (again, here the movement) in order to ascertain the nature (if I had italics on this computer I would use it here) of its constituents.
Discussion 6, Loren Bucek, February 2, 2002
I have been using the term, Motif Notation, for several years now. This conscious shift away from calling it Motif Description, has come about as a result of much discussion with colleagues that are teaching Motif to children and adults in diverse educational settings. For me, it’s more inclusive of the Labanotation domain--dancing, dance making, writing, reading, reflecting on performance and choreography from a somewhat critical stance.
I agree that Labanotation is an umbrella of two subscripts. That way of viewing the domain is just fine. I think of Motif Notation as a form of structured notation with origins in a conceptual framework of movement ideas and motifs based on Rudolf von Laban's movement theories. It is just a different type of structure--an open structure.
The present title, structured notation, doesn't hold much meaning for me as the other subscript. Perhaps a new word or phrase would be more descriptive and helpful. I'll think about it.
Discussion 7, Shannon Glasgow, February 2, 2002
[Responding to Iris Garland’s comments in Discussion 4]
This discussion is extremely interesting to me and has been enlightening. My perspective is similar to Iris Garland's: I second the notion that renaming things causes confusion. Here's my contribution of more food for thought:
Iris wrote, "I hate renaming things because it only seems to add confusion rather than clarification. Really, LMA would be the umbrella term if it was not so recently associated with a certification program that is separate from Labanotation certification. For me it is the theory which makes sense of all the rest."
SECONDED: Labanotation and LMA as terms have been used in such a way that non Laban trained individuals have become familiar with those terms. Clarification of the "umbrella" is a welcomed concept but may cause greater confusion to those individuals that are familiar with the "Laban" paradigm from a distance. The more the terminology is shifted, comprehension will decrease for those that are peripherally aware of Laban "systems" and even fewer will be likely to pursue further knowledge of Laban "systems." The Laban community (especially the Movement Analysis certification program and the Integrated Systems certification program) is repeatedly exploring ways in which to encourage more students. Changing and refining terminology or concepts in our complex "system" creates growth as well as muddy waters. Changing terminology also creates inconsistencies among those that are Laban trained/educated.
For instance, Motif Description is a term I have not heard before. I learned Motif as Motif Writing. "Description" seems redundant yet "writing" implies various interpretations may apply. Yes, "motif writing" adds more complexity and variation in naming.
From my perspective, I see the Laban work as having one main umbrella and then two different umbrella trunks. Primary is the name and word "Laban" or Laban "systems." System is defined by Webster as "a manner of classification, symbolizing, or schematizing or pattern." Secondary is "Labanotation" (the original notation system) and LMA (Body, Effort, Shape & Space). Motif Writing is under / within the LMA "trunk' of the Laban systems.
Both Labanotation and Motif Writing are qualitative and possibly quantitative. It is always exciting for me to watch students translate Laban symbol systems in unique and variable ways. As Judy stated: "there can be many "translations" from one language to another."
Discussion 8, Ann Hutchinson Guest, February 3, 2002
[Responding to Ilene Fox’s and Charlotte Wile’s comments in Discussion 1]
Here is my present understanding of the terms and usages:
There is Laban Notation which should incorporate all the more (or less) specific usages of symbols.
There is Labanotation which records structured movement in relative detail. The three-line staff is used. The analysis of space (directions) and of dynamics are not based on Laban's theories.
There is Motif Notation which indicates the basic actions, the movement concepts. Motif Notation can gradually become more specific and lead directly into Labanotation. No staff is used in Motif Notation, except for indication, where needed, of the centre line.
There is Effort/Shape Notation, which focuses on the qualitative aspects of movement as originated by Laban and further developed by members of LIMS. The LMA body of knowledge includes spatial understanding based on Laban's Choreutics (Space Harmony) and the further developed Laban Effort indications and the much further developed indications and applications of Shape.
There! That's my little contribution. Laban Notation conveniently includes the KIN usages.
Discussion 9, Karen Kohn Bradley, February 3, 2002
This morning I woke up with lots of thoughts about both the query from Ilene Discussion 1 about what we call things and the posting via Sandi Kurtz from the Chicago dance therapist with a penchant for action drives. [The posting by Kurtz is not included here. It was a reprint of “Rhythmic Parallels with Laban and Tomkins," which had been posted on the ADTA listserv.] OK, maybe it was the late-night coffee At any rate, having read what others have said on the naming issue anyway, I was churning away. If you are trying to have a simple Sunday of Superbowl movement analysis and as little brain-jolting as possible, don't read further. My thoughts are neither simple nor particularly well thought out. Run now.
On the Action Drives issue: In the world of theatre (where I spend some of my time), action drives are it. Apparently when Laban started teaching actors/directors in England (this is from Warren, I believe), they took to the action drives in a big way. Jooss (or maybe Warren himself) warned Laban that the enthusiasm for these configurations would overshadow all the complexities of the rest of the system (apparently Laban didn't even like to think of it as a system) and movement analysis would be reduced and diminished.
At the same time (or shortly thereafter), a few analysts were looking at the similarities between Jung's work (particularly the Four Functions) and Laban's four effort categories. (I'm really a little hazy here--I know Dr. Irene Champerknowne was one of the analysts--but I don't have my copy of Valerie's book at home--I think there's some information in there). There is no research or writing that I know of, but our folklore says that space effort correlates with thinking functions, weight effort with sensing, time effort with intuiting, and flow effort with feeling. We do see examples of the correlations in human behavior--when you ask someone what they think, they often shift focus to become either more direct or indirect, for example. Comedy, which is all about timing, is intuitive etc.
The threads that were generated from the preference for action drives in theatre and the correlations to Jung's theories developed separately. Mr. Yopst's research confounds them. If emotions (the feeling function) rides on flow (both free and bound), and action drives subsume flow as an unchanging baseline, then one cannot correlate action drives with feeling states. Action drives are about tasks. Particularly in our culture, tasks are executed with as little flow/feeling as possible. Emotions are messy, intrusive, and inefficient.
Therefore, in order to compare Laban's work with --- one needs to look at more than action drives. Emotions are more likely to be revealed through passion drive, vision drive, dream, remote, and mobile states
NOW, the other part of the research that is problematic is that effort itself is difficult to name unless it is attached to an action or event. Passion drives don't just appear, fleetingly, and without stimulus. Effort modifies actions. Defining the event is the first step in observation. We know from Martha Davis' consensus project back in the 1980s that reliability and consensus increased when observers defined the action first. Therefore, all discussions about effort as a separate or independent category of movement are inappropriate. We can't say (or should not say): "she was in a passion drive" without further delineating what the context, action, or event was that seemed to elicit that passion. If I say to an actor "This scene your character is in FLICK," he/she should shoot me.
The next aspect of movement analysis that I have been thinking about impacts on the discussions about naming what we do. I interviewed Martha Davis a few weeks ago about her research on deception demeanor and one of the side issues that came up was the notion that LMA is inherently microanalytic--I'm trying to write up something about her research for the next LIMS newsletter so I won't attempt to explain her research methods per se, but I did go back and ask her if she thought CMAs might be able to do both microanalysis and meta-analysis at the same, or relatively simultaneous moments. She thought not, but had only attempted to look at this phenomenon at one point in her research, and with only two CMAs. And there was some indication that this might be at least a part of what we do. She believes that we are easily seduced by the details (my words, not hers). She may be right, but when we are teaching observation in the program, I know we are trying to get students to be able to do both, and to avoid or delay interpretation until all patterns and appropriate details have been accounted for.
So motif writing is, partly, a decision-making model. Labanotation is, to me, a more proscribed and microanalytic process. It is proscribed in that it asks us to look at the details of body part use, actions, and space first. Motif does not predict what aspects of the movement are most salient, and it is up to the observer to decide what kind of staff, perspective, or aspects of the movement will be analyzed and then synthesized. This is what drives students nuts in the early parts of the learning process (some of us never get over this). We ask them (and ourselves) to first, name the overall context for noticing, define the event or action, select the appropriate staff/structure for noticing, observe/note salient details, analyze the patterns, and then, interpret the meaning if appropriate. Laban notators go through a version of this, I think, but it is much more defined.
Therefore, to me, Labanotation is a proscribed analysis and a script or outline. There can be (and I hope often are) many modifiers added to the script to inform the actions and spatial components, but, as a tiered decision-making model for noticing what has happened in a movement event, LN seems pretty straight-forward and highly detailed. LMA and its script-motif writing--has many more decision-making steps and may appear to be less reliable because of the sheer number of variables and decisions to be made. It is closer to a content analysis or pattern identification modality, and is therefore useful in different ways.
(There is a thread on the DNB motif discussion site from about a year ago where we got into talking about whether LMA was a language, a script, a dialect, etc. It seems also pertinent to the current discussion).
So, I'm all for sticking with the distinctions of Labanotation as the script for detailing dance and movement events that require that kind of proscribed microanalysis-especially for the purposes of preservation and reconstruction--, and Laban Movement Analysis as the appropriate choice for doing content analyses of defined events--especially for the purposes of meta-analysis and subsequent interpretation of the events--and calling LMA's script Motif Writing.
Discussion 10, Ann Hutchinson Guest, February 4, 2002
I have just received a question about the statement I made in "Names for Laban-based Documentation" [Discussion 8]. This concerns the analysis of space (directions) in Labanotation not being based on Laban's theories. The suggestion is that I clarify this on LabanTalk, so here goes!
Labanotation includes the idea of the kinesphere, of it being centered in the performer, of directions being judged from where the performer is, where s/he is facing (the Standard interpretation when no other key is given). The dimensional directions--up, down, side, side, etc. are basic (they are not Laban's invention, they are universal).
The planes are not oblong, as in Laban's Space Harmony, they are circular. All movement is circular by nature because of the build of the body, the joints.
Directions are judged from a kinesphere at each joint--the shoulder for the arm, the knee for the lower leg, etc.
Directions relating to a cube or to an icosahedron, etc. is a special application evolved by Laban. We recognize the value of such movement ideas, but they are not universal, they could not be a basis for Labanotation, hence the need years ago to divorce Labanotation from Laban's theories.
Concerning Effort, some of these signs have been applied to Labanotation scores to give finer detail in the manner of performance. As I think you all know, I am very concerned that the analysis and terminology used in the Effort/Shape work be fully clarified and rest on universal understandings. The work is extremely valuable, and it has been developed to a high state of refinement. If the beginning explanations are questionable one wonders how universally applicable the development as a whole can be.
I hope that the above is clear. Through meetings here and there, I am getting in closer contact with the E/S specialists and am getting to understand their point of view and, I hope, to relate it to the basics I understand.
Thank you all for reading! I hope to continue to be in touch.
Discussion 11, Ilene Fox, February 4, 2002
Perhaps it would help clarify the difference in directions if an example was given. For example, in Labanotation, forward high is at a 45 degree angle up. Where would it be in the cube or icosahedron?
Discussion 12, Charlotte Wile, February 4, 2002
Many thanks for the thoughtful and eloquent contributions to this discussion.
Of the terms suggested so far, I think I like the use of Labanotation and Motif Notation for the names of subscripts, as Ann Guest suggested in her February 3rd posting [Discussion 8]. Ann also proposed the use of "Laban Notation" as an umbrella term. However, I think that would be confusing because in speech "Labanotation" and "Laban Notation" sound the same.
Here's another idea. Maybe the umbrella term could be something like "Laban Movement Script," or "Laban Movement Notation," or "Laban Documentation." Then there would be no confusion in calling the subscripts "Labanotation" and "Motif Notation."
Also, in Ann Guest's February 4th posting [Discussion 10] she discusses the indication of direction in Labanotation. As Ann said, it is assumed in Labanotation that planes are circular. In other words, the default spatial model is a sphere.
However, as I see it, this does not mean that Labanotation cannot be used to document movement that is based on Space Harmony spatial models. One way to do this is to use indications for intermediate directions (see Ann Hutchinson, Labanotation, pages 437-440). An even easier way is to simply state in a glossary that direction signs are to be interpreted using a particular Space Harmony model, such as an icosahedron, a cube, etc.
Discussion 13, Georgette Gorchoff, February 4, 2002
[Responding to Charlotte Wile’s comments in Discussion 12]
"Laban Movement Notation" might include motif and LN while LMA might retain its own terminology. Too many names will, indeed, confuse and discourage the otherwise curious.
Discussion 14, Shannon Bierly, February 4, 2002
[Responding to Charlotte Wile’s comments in Discussion 12]
I particularly like the umbrella term "Laban Movement Notation." That would be my vote.
Discussion 15, Ellen Goldman, February 4, 2002
[Responding to Charlotte Wile’s comments in Discussion 12]
I like your suggestions very much. Also, planes are not circles, but ellipses. This is critical to the golden mean concept of the planes. Dr. Kestenberg makes this very clear on my video of the Defense Scale, from our research.
Discussion 16, Deborah Heifetz-Yahav, February 5, 2002
I would like to recommend simplicity with the term: Laban Movement Analysis as the umbrella term. It would logically include various approaches to the analysis of human movement. Consequently, Labanotation, Motif Notation, Effort/Shape Analysis and Space Harmony would be understood as conceptual streams within the analytic/kinesthetic discipline of LMA.
Discussion 17, Tom Casciero, February 5, 2002
I am intrigued by this discussion and want to add a bit to it.
I apply the Laban work primarily to my work with actors, singers, and other performing artists. I use the term Laban Movement Studies as the umbrella under which other approaches are listed. In my case that includes primarily Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals. I also use a bit of Motif Writing and some Kestenberg work.
This idea could be used in any discipline. In that way it unites us all under the guise of Laban Movement Studies and then allows us to delineate ourselves within that area of study. As such, you could apply Laban work to, or do research in the area of dance, sports, business, motif writing, etc., etc.
Discussion 18, Ann Hutchinson Guest, February 5, 2002
Greetings to my Much Valued Colleagues! I am picking up on the ‘names for what we do’ discussion.
This is firstly a reply Charlotte Wile's Feb. 4th message [Discussion12]: Yes, I agree that "Laban Movement Notation" is the best for the overall name for the various forms of notation used.
Secondly, this is in reply to Deborah Heifetz-Yahav's Feb. 5th message [Discussion 16]: No, and a very strong NO! to using "Laban Movement Analysis" as the overall term. First, what is being deal with is names for the notation, the script used; the analysis of movement does not enter the picture. Nor should it, for that is a very different matter. Laban Movement Analysis is what is central to the LMA and IMS programs. Labanotation is not based at all on Laban's theories, it had to be divorced from them in the early 1940s when we found we could not notate aspects of other forms of movement technique and dance styles. The Labanotation analysis of movement is quite separate, allied much more to the Eshkol-Wachmann notation system analysis which is anatomically and spatially based. They use numbers for directions, we used specifically shaped symbols, otherwise there is much in common--because each is based on universal facts.
Motif notation is also not based on Laban's theories. I see it as important and valuable to keep the separation between Laban Movement Analysis and the movement analysis used in Labanotation and Motif Notation. There is no problem regarding Labanotation recording the spatial points used in Space Harmony, they are intermediate points and can be written as such. Each ordinary direction symbol needs therefore the addition of a modification. For simplicity's sake, the Choreutic publications and LMA studies use the ordinary, standard direction symbols. This is where LMA students meeting Labanotation become confused, what spatial point IS the symbol describing?
I would put in a plea that, at some point in the training, the LMA/IMS teacher make clear how they are using the notation symbols and why such use is different from the Labanotation spatial analysis.
Discussion 19, Martha Eddy, February 5, 2002
Laban Movement Description comes to mind as an umbrella term given the history already in existence for each of the other terms (Laban Movement Studies and LMA in particular have been cited in the LIMS literature for years so it might be confusing to use them differently now--but maybe not impossible).
Discussion 20, Linda Nutter, February 5, 2002
Since I have only been part of the Laban community for ten years, I can't comment in detail on how the names for what we do evolved, who started using what when, etc. However, I did some preliminary research because during my most recent research, I was being driven crazy by the fact that Laban Movement Analysis and Labananalysis seemed to be used interchangeably. (Not being a Labanotator, I wasn't really concerned with that side of the coin at the time...it wasn't a component of my research.) Here is an excerpt from my writing...it was written for people outside of the Laban community. A few notes follow.
There is great confusion and contradiction in the dance literature regarding the terms "Laban Movement Analysis," "Effort/Shape," "Laban Movement Studies" and "Labananalysis." In the mid-1960s, Irmgard Bartenieff, a senior member of the Dance Notation Bureau (or the "DNB," the center of development for Labanotation in the U.S.) began to offer classes in areas of Laban's theory that were not included in the structural analysis training of Labanotation.
These classes concentrated mainly on the "qualitative" aspects of movement--Effort, and Shape. The term "Effort/Shape" was utilized to distinguish these classes from the classes in structured notation. Although Bartenieff, her assistants and students continued to work with Laban's theories in relation to dance, they also actively applied the theories in projects related to psychology, physical therapy and child development (Dance Notation Bureau, c. 1965).
In 1978 the training program in Effort/Shape separated from the Dance Notation Bureau and a new training institute, The Laban (later, Laban/Bartenieff) Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS) was established. At that point, the Effort/Shape curriculum had evolved to include aspects of body part analysis, spatial patterns, motif writing, and Laban's Space Harmony theory. With the inclusion of these aspects the system started to become known not simply as Effort/Shape, but as Labananalysis or Laban Movement Analysis.
The term "Labananalysis" is, perhaps, the most problematic of them all; it has multiple uses and meanings. Bartenieff herself often referred to the system that is now known as "Laban Movement Analysis" as "Labananalysis" (see Bartenieff, 1980, Cohen, 1978). In the published dance literature, the term "Labananalysis" first appeared in two papers published in the 1967 CORD conference proceedings entitled, Research in Dance: Problems and Possibilities. The papers (see Bartenieff, 1967; and Davis and Schmais 1967) utilized mostly Effort and Shape concepts (Pforsich, 1978). In 1973, researchers representing both the Labanotation and Effort/Shape methodologies met at The Ohio State University. The purpose of their work was to share conceptual and observational viewpoints (Pforsich). They used the term "Labananalysis" to refer to this combined methodology of Labanotation and Effort/Shape (see Pforsich, 1978, and Maletic, 1987). In subsequent publications (see Bartenieff, Hackney, et al) the term Movement Analysis was used to refer to this same combined approach.
In "Movement Notation Systems as Conceptual Frameworks: The Laban System," Suzanne Youngerman states that all three terms, "Labananalysis," "Laban Movement Analysis," and "Laban Movement Studies" have been used in the U.S. to refer not to an actual methodology, but to all theories included under the Laban umbrella.
In line with the current teaching and practices of the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, for the purpose of this study:
- "Labanotation" will be used to describe the structural analysis based on Laban's seminal system of notation as it was developed at the Dance Notation Bureau in New York City.
- "Laban Movement Analysis" will refer to the system of analysis that grew out of Laban's theories and were developed by Irmgard Bartenieff and her followers at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York City and in it's off-site programs.
- "Effort/Shape" will refer to the outdated approach to analysis that examines only the "qualitative" aspects of movement, Effort and Shape.
- "Labananalysis" will refer to the combined research methodologies of Labanotation and Laban Movement Analysis. In instances where an author refers to Laban Movement Analysis as Labananalysis, it will be pointed out in the text.
- "Bartenieff Fundamentalstm" will refer to the set of concepts, principles and exercises developed by Irmgard Bartenieff in applying Laban's movement theory to the physical/kinesiological functioning of the human body.
- "Laban Movement Studies" will refer to the combination of Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals taught at the Laban Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies and it's off-site programs."
As you can see, for the particular piece of research I was doing, I felt a great need to try and help the reader clarify and distinguish the different uses of Laban theory...especially if the reader was going to go on to explore any of the reference material.
I would also like to say that I don't agree that we should attempt to differentiate the scripts based on whether they are quantitative or qualitative. That may be fine in conversation, but if we are attempting to devise new "names" for any of this (which I am not at all convinced we are doing) those new names should have real "lasting power" into the future. I believe that further advances in technology will break down some of the distinctions that we now commonly call "quantitative" or "qualitative."
Bartenieff, Irmgard. "Research in Anthropology: As Study of Dance Styles in Primitive Cultures." Research in Dance: Problems and Possibilities. CORD Dance Research Annual I (1967): 91-104.
Bartenieff, Irmgard with Dori Lewis. Body Movement: Coping with the Environment. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1980.
Bartenieff, Irmgard, Peggy Hackney, Betty True Jones, Judy Van Zile, and Carol Wolz. "The Potential of Movement Analysis as a Research Tool: A Preliminary Analysis." CORD Dance Research Journal 16.1 (Spring, 1984): 3-26.
Cohen, Lynn Renee. "Introduction to Labananalysis: Effort/Shape." Essays in Dance Research. CORD Dance Research Annual IX (1978): 53-58.
Dance Notation Bureau. The Effort-Shape Training Program. New York: Dance Notation Bureau P, [c. 1965.]
Davis, Martha Ann and Claire Schmais. "An Analysis of the Style and Composition of 'Water Study'." Research in Dance: Problems and Possibilities. CORD Dance Research Annual I (1967): 105-113.
Maletic, Vera. Body Space Expression. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1987.
Pforsich, Janis. "Labananalysis and Dance Style Research: An Historical Survey and Report of the 1976 Ohio State University Research Workshop." Essays in Dance Research. CORD Dance Research Annual IX (1978): 59-74.
Youngerman, Suzanne. "Movement Notational Systems as Conceptual Frameworks: The Laban System." Illuminating Dance: Philosophical Explorations. Ed. Maxine Sheets-Johnstone. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1984. 101-123.
Discussion 21, Phillip Hoffman, February 5, 2002
At the last ‘Laban’ conference at the University of Surrey, we had a very similar discussion and it was proposed that ‘Laban Based Movement Analysis’ would be a suitable term as it could include other areas which used Laban's work as a base.
It has been noted earlier in this discussion that Laban himself didn't actually create a finished system, and what we now call ‘LMA’ actually has lots of developments that were not originally conceived by Laban.
I, like Thomas Casciero [Discussion 17], use the work a lot with actors and call it ‘Laban
Also, in response to an earlier part of this discussion--Effort is probably the most used aspect of the work with actors in the UK as it leads directly into characterization. However, I know that during the 1970's work was done using Shape and Space with actors which is a theme I'm currently exploring. I know that Tom Casciero's PhD thesis covers similar ground.
Like Tom, I couldn't resist getting involved!
Discussion 22, Elin E. Lobel, February 5, 2002
I am just going to jump in here.
I agree with Linda Nutter [Discussion 20] that we should avoid naming things based on whether or not they are qualitative and quantitative. I am using Labanotation, LMA and motion analysis techniques (quantitative ones i.e. number generating pieces of equipment) in my dissertation and I have come to realize that these distinctions have to always be qualified and defined for every context and use. I am torn. I enjoy change but it is very hard to keep broadening the group of people who can vaguely understand what we do if we keep changing the name of what we do.
I firmly separate the two for my dissertation committee members most of whom know that Laban developed movement theories and a notation system of describing human movement. Otherwise, I am unable to communicate with them easily about the work I am doing because they often interchange them.
However, I think we could broaden our field of vision and the people we reach by being less separate in some way that I have not figured out yet.
I have had a varied experience of Laban's work from 1980 onwards from Connecticut College, Laban Centre London, LIMS in NYC and Seattle/Utah (pre IMS), and here at the University of Illinois. I am a CMA and certified in elementary and intermediate Labanotation. The one thing that has always struck me is how much easier it is to learn the notation if one has experienced/studied/read Laban's theories. Another thought that often comes to me is that they (LMA, motif writing, and Labanotation) make the most sense to me and my life together. That is my personal favorite.
Discussion 23, Judy Gantz, February 5, 2002
In reading Linda Nutter's comments [Discussion 20] I wanted to add some oral history about the development of the term Laban Movement Analysis.
In considering what terms to use in naming the Laban work I think it is important to look at the how and where people get their Laban education. Since the teaching of notation and the LMA work are currently separate, the different terms seem to represent the transmission and pathway of the body
of knowledge. History first:
Warren Lamb worked with Laban in England on the new ideas of Effort up until Laban's passing. Shortly after Laban's death (1958) three women traveled to England to study with Warren Lamb to learn Laban's current ideas of movement. In preparing the lessons to be taught to these three women, Irmgard Bartenieff, Judith Kestenberg, and Valerie Hunt (Kinesiologist from UCLA) Warren Lamb coined the term Effort/Shape. Upon returning to the USA Irmgard referred to Effort/Shape as the new material she learned from Lamb (the terms of Shape came from Lamb, refined by Kestenberg). Irmgard continued teaching at the DNB in the 1960's and 1970's and had such students as Peggy Hackney, Carol Boggs, etc. Once Irmgard and her early teachers in New York (Virginia Reed, Suzanne Youngerman, Didi Levy, Fran Parker, Janis Pforsich, Ellen Goldman, etc.) founded the Laban Institute in New York (1978) they created a year long certification program and called the material Laban Movement Analysis, although people became CMA's (certified movement analyst). However, Peggy Hackney and Janice Meaden now certify people as CLMA (certified Laban Movement Analyst).
Since the Dance Notation Bureau (DNB) and LIMS (now Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies) offered separate certification programs, and Laban Notation was not taught in these programs, the two worlds of Laban's work remained separated. For those fluent in both areas of Laban study the work holds a certain perspective, and perhaps today renaming things would clarify our identity. But what is being taught in each certification program does seem to keep Laban Notation separate from the BF, SH, SP, Effort, Motif work. Should these curriculums change? If they change, the re- naming will take on significant meaning.
Discussion 24, Tara Stepenberg, February 5, 2002
I am enjoying this discussion and appreciate all the thoughts about this topic.
I'm jumping into the fray just a bit...I am one of those early-ones, first trained in Labanotation then, in the early '70's trained in "Effort/Shape" with Irmgard, Peggy, Janis, Carol et. al at the Dance Notation Bureau. It was not clear from Judy Gantz's e-mail that Irmgard studied with Laban in 1925 and that she participated in several workshops with him and his colleagues (see pg ix in the Preface to Body Movement). Irgmard also became a founding member of the Dance Notation Bureau in 1943, and she began her Effort/Shape training program in 1965 at the DNB.
My experience of the work in the early 70's was not substantially different from my experience of the work 12 years later when I directed the Certificate Programs at LIMS--although the richness and refinement of "the work" reflected on-going unfoldment of understanding and application. Irmgard states: "Laban observed movement process in all aspects of life." What she communicated to me (and what my study of Labanotation had communicated) was that Labanotation uses symbols to represent a reality of expression (or abstract expression) in motion, which can be reproduced exactly by others trained in the same system. A movement product is observed, and recorded as a product (and I believe that there is analysis involved here, and I would love to have this conversation with Ann.); and LMA concepts and its "body" of symbols can represent (or reflect) an experiential or expressive reality--LMA often observes movement processes but its lens of analysis can also be focused on a "product." I understand many of the differences between LN and LMA, and yet, for me, there is an over-riding meta-level, which relates to the above sentence about a "work" (and point of view) which observes, describes, records, analyses movement processes in all aspects of life, including movement products called dances.
I also agree with Ann [Discussion 18] that teachers in LMA and IMS Certificate Programs need to communicate some of the differences in spatial analysis between LN and Choreutic Theory.
Discussion 25, Joan Forest Mage, February 5, 2002
A comment on something that I've found helpful. When I tell people that I graduated from the Laban Institute of Movement Studies, they say, "Huh? What's a laban? Layban?" Instead, I've started telling them I graduated from Rudolf Laban's Institute of Movement Studies, or that I've studied Rudolf Laban's form of movement studies. This seems to create less initial confusion, as they realize that Laban is the name of a person who founded some kind of study or training program.
It makes explaining things a touch easier.
Discussion 26, Leslie Bishko, February 5, 2002
[Responding to Tara Stepenberg’s comment in Discussion 24: “I also agree with Ann that teachers in LMA and IMS Certificate Programs need to communicate some of the differences in spatial analysis between LN and Choreutic Theory."]
OK, now I'm curious. Can anyone explain these spatial differences to the un-initiated?
I got started with a small amount of LN before I studied LMA.
Discussion 27, Sandi Kurtz, February 6, 2002
I'm so glad to see this addressed. As a writer, I feel words matter, and have been interested in watching the gradual development of labels and vocabulary in this area. While I'm glad we've opened up this discussion, I don't think that we should rush into renaming things, though. Those kinds of actions rarely stick, and we're already in deep enough water linguistically.
Bottom line--I call the whole thing Labananalysis (one word rather than two), and the two big divisions are Labanotation and Laban Movement Analysis (though it's sometimes a pain in the neck to explain to people the difference between Labananalysis and LMA). I work in both L/N and LMA and usually resort to the quantitative/qualitative distinctions when doing a brief introduction, but since I'm one of those people who think the two "halves" are complimentary (and indeed work best when they're used together) I don't feel that I'm stereotyping anything.
I use the term Motif Writing, since that's pretty straightforward. Sometimes I call L/N "full-staff writing" to explain the difference, but that's more of a description rather than a label.
I like the term "Laban Studies" that several British schools have adopted, but I haven't used it myself much.
I'd prefer to keep variations of "notation" out of the umbrella term, since that implies that the whole thing is about writing.
Thanks again to Charlotte and Ilene for opening this topic!
Discussion 28, Deborah Heifetz-Yahav, February 6, 2002
[Responding to Ann Hutchinson Guest’s comments in Discussion 18]
While I agree with the problematics of shifting historical meanings of words, there are two questions or issues that I would like to raise.
One: I find it difficult to claim that Labanotation is without theory, but suspect that it is based upon an expansion of the existent theories he had developed in the 1940s.
Two: I understand and respect your arguments regarding "Laban Movement Analysis." I do however think that the term "analysis" and "description" are interchangeable terms in our work. Both terms lack interpretation of meaning to the movement we analyze/describe. Indeed, one moves into Kestenberg and Action Profiling for interpretation. The fine line between interpretation and description is crucial for my work. Therefore, I support Martha's [Discussion 19] suggestion for Laban Movement Description as an overall term since "analysis" is too loaded with historical meaning.
Discussion 29, Janet Kaylo, February 6, 2002
[Responding to Linda Nutter’s comments in Discussion 20]
Thank you Linda for such a thorough response to this discussion!
I am in the challenging position of being the LMA teacher at Laban Centre London, where ‘LMA’ was disavowed until 1995, when I was originally hired--specifically--as a professional dancer and CMA, and faculty on Certificate Programs, to bring Laban vocabulary more centrally into the technique classes. There has been even further confusion educationally in terminology since then, and using the term LMA is the only way I have of creating parameters around the Laban training that I provide the students on the BA and the MA in DMT. And in England we do not have open forums such as this for sorting any of this confusion out!
While what has been referred to in these debates as the British term ‘Laban Studies’ sounds adequately formalised and thorough-going from across the Atlantic, it is a term that umbrellas many different approaches and ideas within Laban's original work, and does not include ANYTHING--I repeat
ANYTHING--that has been developed in the U.S. Also used here is Labananalysis, which means I don't know what in these contexts, except as another way of saying Laban Studies. Laban Studies is used to denote the early concepts of Laban's, as compared to later developments. Choreological Studies is the umbrella term under which comes both Labananalysis (sometimes called Laban Analysis) and Labanotation, but it signifies specifically the inclusion of Valerie Preston-Dunlop's work which is very different from most anything inside of the system of LMA; as well as some continued development of the Tanztheatre line. I am personally very grateful for the term LMA, because it is the only way of indicating some specificity in approach/methodology and content that comes from acknowledging the work of Lamb AND Bartenieff, Kestenberg, and Bainbridge-Cohen, from that which is generally on offer here, and which follows a very different lineage: as if those people (with the exception of Lamb) never existed.
Discussion 30, Kedzie Penfield, February 6, 2002
[Responding to Deborah Heifetz-Yahav’s comments in Discussion 28]
Personally I like the word "analysis" as for me it has a discipline that is not contained in "description." I'm amazed by the crazy (in some cases) way people describe movement when I teach observation or movement to actors before they learn Laban Movement Analysis. (The last word being important and not interchangeable at all.) I also support the differentiation Ann makes [Discussion 18].
Discussion 31, Rachelle Palnick Tsachor, February 6, 2002
Just for fun, I looked up Laban, Labananalysis, Laban Movement Analysis, Laban Studies and Labanotation in the Wester on-line dictionary. Only Labanotation is in that dictionary, so whatever terms we come up with, it might be good to let Mr. Webster know about them. See below.
Oxford on-line lists Laban (see below) and can find Labanotation under this entry, but not Labananalysis, Laban Movement Analysis or Laban Studies.
One entry found for labanotation.
Main Entry: la·ba·no·ta·tion
Pronunciation: "lA-b&-nO-'tA-sh&n, "la-; l&-"bä-(")nO-
Etymology: Rudolf Laban died 1958 Hungarian dance theorist + English notation
Date: 1952: a method of recording bodily movement (as in dance) on a staff by means of symbols (as of direction) that can be aligned with musical accompaniment
The name of Rudolph Laban (1879-1958), Hungarian-born choreographer, used attrib. to describe a system of dance notation invented by him. Hence Labanotation, this system.
1954 R. LABAN Princ. Dance & Movement Notation 11/1, I have lived to see several excellent dance creations of our time preserved for coming generations by being written down in my Laban notation. Ibid. 19/2 The most active American stage dancers have taken up our notation. .and this is largely due to the work of Ann Hutchinson. It may be mentioned here that the American group calls our system ‘Labanotation’. 1954 A. HUTCHINSON Labanotation 5 Labanotation is a means of recording movement by means of symbols. 1958 Times 3 July 14/2 ‘Labanotation’ is now the most widely used of all the notations that have been attempted to set down in score the steps, movements and patterns of the choreographer. 1961 WEBSTER s.v. Icosahedron. An imaginary polyhedron in the Laban system of dance notation representing the 20 principal movement directions of a dancer in its center. 1974 Home & Store News (Ramsey, New Jersey) 2 Jan. 39 The new typing element, developed by IBM and the Dance Notation Bureau, brings the speed and facility of the electric typewriter to Labanotation, a universally used system of notating movement.
Discussion 32, Beverly J. Burke, February 6, 2002
[Responding to Rachelle Palnick Tsachor’s comments in Discussion 31]
Good job Rachelle. Dictionaries do make a difference.
I find this conversation illuminating and fascinating. We really need to resolve this issue to assist us with an item that has been brought up so many times in my CMA career, that of spreading the word about LMA. How can we let others know about the work when we don’t use consistent language? As you can see, the term I default to is LMA Laban Movement Analysis, because in my era, (1984 Cert. program) that is what we used.
Once we get consensus on the terms, the next step will be to communicate the decision to those using the work. The listserv, LIMS news and the national and local meetings should all agenda the decision so that we can speak to the world consistently.
My two cents.
Discussion 33, Nancy Allison, February 7, 2002
Great discussion going on about the names for all the various forms of written language that have developed from Laban's work. For me the discussion itself points to the great wealth of creativity and simultaneously the great dangers of "Balkanization" in the Laban community. I hope to add more to this discussion in the future.
Discussion 34, Janice Meaden, February 8, 2002
[Responding to Judy Gantz’s comments in Discussion 23]
Thanks for your thoughts on history and the naming issues. Just a quickie clarification. Integrated Movement Studies is designating its graduates Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysts (CLMA).
Discussion 35, Martha Eddy, February 10, 2002
[Responding to Tara Stepenberg’s comments in Discussion 24]
Nicely written. Thanks Tara
Discussion 36, Jeffrey Scott Longstaff, February 18, 2002
[Responding to Ann Hutchinson Guest’s comments in Discussion 10 and Ilene Fox’s comments in Discussion 11]
Perhaps most people already know the details about Space Harmony versus Labanotation in terms of Angles of Planes.
Labanotation uses essentially a CUBIC framework, so angles to the corners of planes are all 45 degrees; The CUBOCAHEDRON is a combination of the cube and octahedron, and essentially has the same degree angles as the cube.
Space Harmony (Choreutics) also sometimes uses a cubic framework, and Laban writes (in choreutics where he introduces the icosahedron) that the small differences between the cube versus icosahedron are not important for basic practice; (sorry I don't have the page or exact quote for this now)
The following is summarised from an Appendix of my PhD thesis:
The angles within ICOSAHEDRAL PLANES, or DODECAHEDRAL PLANES, exactly speaking, these are irrational numbers and so cannot be expressed exactly (eg. such as ‘divine proportion,’ (1+ square root of 5 divided by 2). However, by drawing the planes to the correct proportions, I get the following approximate angles just by measuring them:
ICOSAHEDRON: angle to forward low, forward-high 31 degrees (measured from horizontal)
ICOSAHEDRON: angle to side-high, side-low 59 degrees (measured from horizontal)
DODECAHEDRON: angle to forward low, forward-high 69 degrees (measured from horizontal)
DODECAHEDRON; angle to side-high, side-low 21 degrees (measured from horizontal)
I believe that Carol Schouboe gave some nice drawings of these in her recent Movement News article.
ALSO, I want to point out that this question of "ANGLES," is actually much more complicated as this sounds. There is an issue of where is the angle being measured from in the body (that is, where is the centre of the Kinesphere?), for example, in Labanotation an arm movement is usually measured from the shoulder joint to end-of-arm (so it could be said in this case that this is a ‘proximal-joint centred Kinesphere’), whereas in Choreutics the angles is usually ‘perceived’ from the centre-of-body to end-of-arm (ie. a ‘whole-body’ kinesphere). In Labanotation there is "inclusion" (I think it is called) where (eg) the torso is included with the arm in a direction, and so the measurement would also be from the centre-of-body, but this is not usually used.
I do not believe that Labanotation and Choreutics are exclusive. But I do think that the reasons, and a real probing into ‘angles of directions’ has not been carried out.
Also (one last final note) is that, really, ANGLES OF POSITIONS OF LIMBS ARE IRRELEVANT, and these are a distraction from the real thing, which is MOVEMENT.
My view is that angles to "points" in choreutics does not reach into the essence of the system. The deeper content of choreutics has to do with movements, namely, flat, steep, suspended Inclinations. For these, it is irrelevant the angle of the limb and the beginning or ending of the movement, the only important thing is the orientation of the motion itself.
My work with what I call ‘vector symbols’ from Laban's (1926) Choreographie, reveals a ‘movement conception’ of choreutics which makes any talk of ‘points’ or ‘positions’ redundant.
Discussion 37, Nava Lotan, February 18, 2002
[Responding to Jeffrey Scott Longstaff’s comments in Discussion 36]
Can you explain the concepts: The deeper content of choreutics has to do with movements, namely, flat, steep, suspended and how your vector system analyzes them?
Discussion 38, Jeffrey Scott Longstaff, February 18, 2002
[Responding to Nava Lotan’s question in Discussion 37]
What I mean about ‘movements’ instead of ‘positions’ in choreutics?
I believe that conceiving of ‘points in space’ is a deadening of choreutics, though this is the way I was taught, and is the way I mostly see choreutics being taught.
But I would say this is a compromise, because this is EASYER to conceive of ‘points.’
A direct method of ‘movement conception’ can be found in an old method of notation in Laban's (1926) choreographie, where movements are notated, rather than positions.
So, for example, a flat inclination, deflected from the diagonal right-up-forwards, is notated directly as an orientation of a line-of-motion, but this line might be anywhere, to the right of the body, above the head, a huge movement across the room, or a tiny motion of the finger.
Thus, there is absolutely no notation of the ‘position’ or ‘points.’
If you probe the inclinations in the icosahedron (both transverse and peripheral inclinations) you will see that there are 2 peripheral inclinations, and 2 transverse inclinations which all have the exact identical orientation, they are exactly parallel. (I give no example, you need to analyse this from your icosahedron model).
So, in the ‘vector symbol’ method (it is not mine, it is Laban's) all 4 of these inclinations are notated with the same, single, symbol.
My experience in physically working with these symbols and their Inclination concepts, is that it has drastically simplified my understanding of choreutics (perhaps ironic, since the motion concepts themselves may be more difficult to comprehend!). It also seem to help the ‘problem’ of choreutics becoming too gestural when people ‘reach to the points.’
This notation/conceptualisation method is quite clear in Choreographie (Laban, 1926). Any movement is perceived as a dimensionally deflected diagonal. The dimensional component is flat (lateral), steep (vertical), or suspended (sagittal--also called ‘flowing’). This is basic Laban theory that all CMAs know. The only difference is to perceive the deflecting inclination EXPLICITLY, rather than being forced to relate it to the ‘points.’
Since, frankly, I assert that the ‘points’ are a crutch, and in my observations I conclude that the pure locations or angles toward points, are not exactly consistent any way.
My actual translation of these symbols will appear in the next ICKL conference proceedings, and I've also written an article in Laban Guilds magazine ‘Movement and Dance.
That's all for now.
This is a compulsion for me, so I don't want to go on.
Discussion 39, Ann Hutchinson Guest, February 21, 2002
Belatedly I am picking up on the discussion (fascinating and revealing) which took place earlier this month. My concern was focussed on the terms used for the forms of documentation in the Laban system, not on Laban Movement Analysis. However, a few other points came up which I would like to discuss further.
Deborah, in your Feb. 6 letter [Discussion 28] you wrote: "I find it difficult to claim that Labanotation is without theory......" I am sure that you meant to say "is without Laban theory." Labanotation is not based on "an expansion of the existent theories Laban had developed in the 1940s." For one thing we were not in touch with him at that time because of the war and did not know of his developments until much later. In the meantime we in New York continued to clarify and unify usage in the system and develop it further.
However--there is one legacy which we kept, a legacy which has proved difficult for most students to understand immediately. That is the spatial result when, the arm, for instance, is flexed. The form of flexion we inherited was a contraction; the possibility of folding the arm was not in Laban's teaching, it was evolved at the Dance Notation Bureau in the early 40s and soon became part of the system. Now, here is the interesting bit. In almost all other systems of notation, ‘the arm’ is understood to mean the upper arm, so bending the arm (flexing) is interpreted as a folding at the elbow and a spatial displacement of the lower arm. As you know, Laban's spatial sense, one might almost say the spatial domination, meant that flexing, bending the arm was seen as using less space, as approaching ‘near space,’ as spatially narrowing the distance between the extremity of the arm and its base. Thus, whatever the rotational state of the limb, the elbow moves into another direction as it flexes and the hand retains the previously established line of direction as it draws in closer to the body. For the arms this concept is not always easy for beginners to grasp. For the legs it happens naturally when one is sitting on the floor, legs extended forward. Because the floor is there, contraction of the legs will follow the line of direction, i.e. forward horizontal. The feet draw in toward the hips, whether the legs are parallel or turned out. In various forms of dance this ‘line of direction’ can be very expressive, even powerful in certain contexts. It is obviously a useful concept which, together with the anatomical folding concept, provides a range of movement expression and description, one of the many features which make our notation system so rich and versatile.
I hope the above is clearly expressed.
Now I am turning to Jeffrey's Feb. 18th letter [Discussion 36], so fascinating to read these different points of view. Jeffrey, Labanotation does not use a CUBIC framework at all. Please look at the Eshkol-Wachmann system where their drawings illustrate so clearly the directional analysis which LN also uses. Yes, you could say that this analysis uses a ‘proximal-joint centered kinesphere,’ the shoulder for the whole arm (or upper arm); the elbow for the lower arm, the wrist for the hand, and so on. But, if there is an inclusion of the upper body, this does not change the directional analysis.
We say that Labanotation is a movement system, but in fact the standard directions describe points in space to which the extremity of the limb moves, or through which it moves on its way to another established point. The movement is the traveling between points. This is also true in the A Scale, for example. It was much later in the development of the system that indications for motion were evolved and became part of the system. Motion indications are valuable and expressive, but destinations are still needed if we need to keep track at certain points as to where in space we are.
Ilene Fox, in her note of Feb. 4th [Discussion 11] asks where would forward high be (usually at a 45 degree from the base of the limb) where would it be in the cube or icosahedron? As I understand it, it depends on where the base reference point is. For his Space Harmony explorations, Laban took place middle to be in the center of the body (torso), thus a forward high destination for the extremity of the arm, judged from that point, would be noticeably different. This was why Sally Archbutt's bird-cage model of the directions in space around the body which she presented at the ICKL conference in Toronto, was so different from Janos Fuegedi's. Sally based her directions on the center of the body, Janos on the base of each limb, the point of attachment. Do you remember that discussion?
Jeffrey, I do appreciate the importance of movement concepts, the sense of ‘going.’ Think of a boat out at sea, tacking this way and that, the exhilaration of the different forms and degrees of motion. But--to avoid getting lost one has to determine the boat's position, to relate to points on the globe, to know one's latitude and longitude. At some point movement also needs to be similarly defined.
Will I get reams of replies back? Have I opened a can of butterflies or a can of -----?
Discussion 40, Jeffrey Scott Longstaff, February 23, 2002
I've compiled this information about Choreutic planes:
[The following charts are shown in miniature. Click on the link below each chart to open a new browser window with a full-sized version of that chart.]
I wanted to share the basic collection of what I’ve been calling ‘vector symbols’ which I have translated from Laban’s (1926) Choreographie. Specific details of the translation can be found in the upcoming ICKL conference proceedings.
Here, I’ve attached 3 figures.
1) A list of the 38 vector symbols
2) A table giving possible translation into Icosahedral direction symbols
3) One set of ‘scales’ notated in vectors from Laban’s (1926) choreographie.
There are many more sequences in Choreographie, some are vector-notations of choreutic scales we are all familiar with (eg. axis scale), while others are spatial sequences which I’ve not seen elsewhere.
I hope this might be an invitation for people to experiment with conceiving of choreutics as motions (deflecting inclinations) as opposed to the typical conception of ‘points’.
[The following charts are shown in miniature. Click on the link below each chart to open a new browser window with a full-sized version of that chart.]
Discussion 42, Leslie Bishko, February 23, 2002
[Responding to Jeffrey Scott Longstaff’s comments in Discussion 41]
Thanks so much for forwarding this material to the list!
The Vector symbols are fascinating and a bit difficult to grasp immediately. If I understand correctly, they represent motion in a direction from one's current place, ie. they are relative, whereas the space symbols we use to follow the progression of the scales are absolute.
It seems to me that much of what we work with in LMA, Choreutics and Labanotation encompasses the concept of a movement being "relative" to one that preceded it. However, the Space symbols influence us to name fixed points in space. One way in which these symbols do become relative is that they belong to the Kinesphere of the mover, and not the global space in which one moves--and the Kinesphere travels with the mover. I'm curious to know if the Vector symbols reference Kinespheric space or global space.
Perhaps we can conceptualize the Space symbols as a matter of convenience--a way of referencing the infinite spatial possibilities around us. But as I now understand it, the Vector symbols truly reference the progression of movement. Shape change also encompasses this notion.
Thanks for indulging this little light bulb going on!