Submitted by Charlotte Wile - January 20, 2004
I thank Katya for her response to my Dec. 15, 2003 posting (Effort thread).
As Katya said, Effort intensity is a relative concept. One person’s “moderate” Lightness might be another person’s “marked” Lightness. I would not want to try to precisely set or standardize what is meant by a certain degree of intensity. Rather, it can be determined by context or defined in the glossaries of individual scores. In other words, when the symbol for moderate Lightness appears in a score, the reader does what is moderately Light for him or her, or does what the glossary for that score states is moderate Lightness. Then, symbols for other degrees of intensity (e.g., slight or marked) would be interpreted in relation to the given moderate intensity.
Re: changes in the system. I feel it is very important to have standardization and consistency in Labanotation/Motif Notation. However, I also believe we should allow our symbols and rules of usage to evolve so they can meet our present needs. This of course should be done very carefully. We always need to maintain the overall integrity of the system, keeping in mind the principles on which it is based.
Katya asked how people can be informed about changes. There are many forums where new ideas can be developed and disseminated, such as this and other Laban-based online discussions, conferences, in-house theory discussions at the various Laban centers, and scores, books, journals, newsletters, and proceedings published by those centers.
As I said in my posting, one change that I feel would be useful is a better way to indicate Effort intensity. As I see it, there are at least three issues that should be addressed:
1. The Number of Degrees in the Intensity Continuum
How many degrees of intensity should there be for each Effort Element? For instance, maybe two degrees would be sufficient. In my Dec. 15 proposal I suggested three variables (slight, moderate, marked). Some methods of writing have many more, as in Valerie Preston Dunlop, Handbook for Modern Educational Dance (p.103), where single, double, and triple plus and minus signs are offered as ways to show subtle distinctions.
2. The Generic Indication for Intensity
I feel we must have a way of depicting an Effort quality without specifying its intensity. Such a generic sign can be used when intensity is unimportant, irrelevant, or open to interpretation.
In other words, one could then just write “Be Light,” (rather than having to say “Be very Light,” “Be slightly Light,” etc.)
Whatever sign is used for the general, generic indication, it must be different from the signs that specify intensity. For example, in my posting I suggested using a plain, unmodified Effort quality symbol as the generic sign. My indications for specific intensity are modified so they can not be mistaken for the generic sign (Ex 1 below).
In contrast, in Ex. 2 below, the plain sign is used to indicate a specific intensity (moderate). If this system is used, then a new, separate generic sign needs to be developed.