Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Responses to "Color in Notation"

Responses to "Color in Notation"
Submitted by Ray Cook - January 22, 2001

Following are some responses to comments extracted from the posting Sandra Aberkalns, Robin Hoffman, and Charlotte Wile submitted on January 16, 2001. Their comments are identified below with quotation marks.

1. Ray says: Even though things will change, it is a "must" that decisions are made now as to which color represents what. Maybe start with the three primary colors.

2. Robin said: "Any time you have something from the choreographer that came out of his mouth at that moment--you just can't leave it out."
Ray's response: Not everything. Too often they give conflicting images and information.

3. Sandra said: "Has choreography changed so much that we really do need color to show this new kind of relationship with the choreographer/dancer that wasn't there before? That the way people used to write ad. lib, or improv. was absolutely appropriate, and they really didn't need any more? Or is it just possible that back in the "old days" they just figured that they didn't want to be bothered."

Ray's response: The first thing to do is sort out the ad. lib. problem. Part of the solution may end up being the use of color. Now improvisation has become a style, school, way of performing, and therefore much more detailed. In the past the ad. lib. sign had a more limited range of interpretation. Also, only a very few choreographers had their work notated, and restagings were done by people familiar with the style or the work. Today there are too many interpretations given to the one ad. lib. symbol for any "correct" interpretation to be given to the ad. lib. sign.

4. Robin said: "I think that a lot of times in some of the older scores that I've read, it was a case of things being quite codified. And possibly it hadn't occurred to anyone yet, which is completely natural and understandable, that there would be people reading it who wouldn't already be familiar with a certain technique."

Ray's response: Yes, and this is why the ad. lib. sign will end up being as detailed as structured Labanotation. Otherwise the sign will not be correctly interpreted--translated.

5. Sandra said "So, in something like the Forsythe, the whole idea of improvisation and choices is that it will be different every single performance. He doesn't want to see it set. So that does change the game a little bit..."

Ray's response: " There still have to be parameters of interpretation, even though he said he didn't want to see it set.

6. Charlotte said: " I also wonder if, in the past, when notation began, there was a need to prove that the system worked, and there was hesitancy possibly to notate improvisational pieces because one wouldn't be as apt then to say: Look! You can read back this notation exactly as it was performed. And so perhaps the dances that were chosen to notate were dances that were set. Now we have more confidence, obviously, in the system. We know that it works. We know that it's possible to write down with a great deal of accuracy movement that then can be reproduced, even when people don't know anything about the dance.
Ray's response: If you look at the very early examples of notation (Kin), there is no more detail perhaps than you would today find in a Motif score. It was understood that place high was done with Lightness. I think that the circle of users was small, and everybody knew how to interpret the scores. There was no unification in the performance of the movement Look at photos of European choreographers from the 1920's. All seem to be obeying the same instructions, but all are different. I think that today we might call what they did improvisation on a set framework.

7. Sandra said: "Just think that Mozart, Beethoven and Bach wrote some of the greatest classics without color!"

Ray's response: Perhaps choreographers and their scores are still too close. We enjoy great music because there is a lack of some aspects. Perhaps with too much color there will be no room for interpretation after the choreographers are deceased.

8. Sandra said: "So, now color is available. Then the next time someone needs to say something new, where do we start moving from here?"

Robin said: "Oh who knows! [Laughter] Holograms!"

Ray's response: Don't laugh--It will happen.

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