Tina Curran and Jimmyle Listenbee/ Symposium Organizers
Tina Curran opened the conference by welcoming all in attendance and being thankful for their interest, commitment and willingness to participate in sharing their ideas and expertise to further expand the value and meaning of motif within the larger Laban community. She thanked her co-organizer Jimmyle Listenbee for her initiation of action to begin planning for a motif community gathering and for her positive and productive collaboration over the past year. She also thanked Ohio State University for their generosity in hosting the motif symposium in their beautiful studios, with special thanks to Valarie Mockabee, Odette Blum and Sheila Marion for their extra assistance. She also acknowledged and thanked Motus Humanus as a co-sponsor for their assistance and Carol-Lynne Moore for her support of confidence.
Jimmyle Listenbee welcomed the participants emphasizing the theme of the symposium as an opportunity to open, expand, celebrate and build the community of Laban-based professionals. She urged everyone to maintain the objectives of listening and learning. She thanked all who had helped the symposium to become a reality and gave particular thanks to Lucy Venable for her understanding and support of Jimmyle’s long-term objectives in developing a common language among all the various Laban communities through Motif.
Ann Hutchinson Guest for Language of Dance®
This is a moment of realization of something I had hoped for many years, this is now actually taking place. I have to say that this is a wonderful feeling, and I contribute my personal thanks to all the people that Tina and Jimmyle have mentioned who contributed to make this symposium come true.
My involvement with motif, as it came to be called, goes back to 1958. I had published two children's books using the three-line staff. When I got to book three I said, "This is all wrong." With the structured description children are confined to stepping and arms movements only and they want to move, they want to get out there. So I started experimenting with just the traveling sign, the flexion and extension signs and so forth. At the 1961 ICKL conference in England, I introduced the idea of using the symbols out of context, I wasn't very good at explaining it. Nobody understood because we all wrote structured movement and it fitted on the three-line staff, the response was "What do you mean, out of context?" However, it wasn't too long before Valerie Preston Dunlop found motif very useful in training teachers who had worked in the school system in the United Kingdom. As you know, she published three books using and presenting the symbols, this was a wonderful step forward.
We kept in touch and, when I began to develop motif even more because of the book that eventually came out as Your Move, I asked Valerie if she was interested in working with me. There were additional needs for this new book. She said no, she really didn't want to, as she was focusing on other things. So, that cleared the way for me to go ahead. I think most of you will have seen the Your Move book. It was actually one of Valerie's teachers on one of the courses she gave that suggested the name 'motif' notation and it has stuck. I think it is very appropriate because it also represents motivation, so it's not just motif in a design sense. but also motivation, "Why are you doing that movement?" That is one of the things that I like to bring into the Language of Dance®. It's not just the signs, but various reasons why you might be engaging in that kind of a movement.
When motif notation/writing started spreading, everyone said "Hooray! This is easy and there are no rules that you have to learn." Once you've done a movement, that's finished, you then go on to the next. So, motif spread rather like wildfire. Then of course, we began to find different understandings, slight differences with the symbols. Over the years, particularly more recently, when it has been spreading even more, we realized we need to come together and share our experiences. Why do we understand it this way? How can it be used better that way? My initial idea of coming together was a much smaller group with more concentration on the technicalities. But, thanks to these two ladies, Tina and Jimmyle, they had a much broader vision which I totally concur with as it is much more appropriate that we learn practically from each other and experience the different usages and different points of view. Then you can get down to the theory.
Again, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here to see the opening of this symposium and I look forward to sharing with you in all the sessions that come. Thank you very much.
Welcome, I’m delighted that some of you have stayed here at Ohio State this past week and some of you are just coming. Can those of you just coming stand up. (Taking in the room) You can see the freshness in their eyes. I know that you’ve had an incredible and exciting week with ideas and information that has come your way. I’ve seen a few of the presentations and they're mind-blowing. Really exciting things are happening with notation right now, very exciting. And now these next few days you really get specific about motif and I hope you get to move a lot. Enjoy yourselves, enjoy Columbus and have a great four days. Thank you for having me here.
Text (Transcript of welcome speech delivered via videotape):
Thank you for letting me contribute to your symposium even though I can’t be present. You know there’s one thing that we’ve all gained from Laban Movement, and that is how to move well, whether it’s how we walk...or play...or work...or, of course, ummm..., but particularly how we embody the spirit of dance into our everyday life. The key is movement literacy; and here at this gathering we have the most movement literate people in the world. And the world needs you.
We also have needs. Firstly, to convey (to the 99.9% of the world population that doesn’t understand how movement can be studied) that to be literate in movement is as desirable as to be literate in respect to the language of words. It helps to promote this, I think, if we set a good example in how we move. And I think, in the main, we do that. You, lots of you I’m sure, move a lot better than I do, but at least I try to keep movement alive. Secondly, we need to recognize that the world needs us and that there is a lot of scope.
Moving Forward with Motive can be a rallying call. How do we rally ourselves to work together more and have a community spirit? Well, we can dance together and have movement choirs and that’s wonderful, it helps, but we can’t rely upon that. Nor can we rely upon constantly talking about it. It’s like a couple who are living together and one keeps saying to the other, “Darling, we must foster a spirit of love between us.” They’d be throwing things at each other in no time at all!
So what can we do in order to rally ourselves? Of course if there was a crisis, then......(there’s nothing like a crisis for concentrating the mind and getting everybody to work together.) Alternatively, there are two suggestions I would like to make. One is that we acknowledge our Laban heritage, particularly in respect to the uniqueness of what he offered.
The Laban movement is truly unique. If there’s a big orchard, does it matter whether some pick apples and some pick pears; some climb ladders, others climb the trees? The Laban orchard is very big and fruity, and there are a lot of markets available to us. And, two, whatever market, whatever your approach is in respect to movement, then we should recognize that we should go for it! But it’s difficult if in doing so there is little-mindedness over difference in interpretations, if there is destructive criticism or negative competitiveness. So why not have big-mindedness in respect to our differences? Let’s have constructive criticism. And let’s have friendly competitiveness.
Therefore, my message to the symposium is: Whatever it is that you’re doing, then go for it! Promote it! Really share it if you can. Make money out of it if you can! Write about it. Publish. Really get as much going as you possibly can. If we do that, then I think we can truly exploit the scope available to us, we can be true to our Laban heritage and we can really begin to fulfill the great potential.
There is one thing, however, I’d like to mention: That the Laban heritage is movement, and its uniqueness is in respect to movement as a process of variation. Laban himself described movement as “a state of flux,” which we can, perhaps, capture as we do with motif writing and notation, but which we cannot pin down. Therefore, let’s accept this scope and uniqueness that’s available to us. Let’s be clear about the nature of the opportunity and the differing interpretations available. But, primarily, let’s go forward with vision as to what can be accomplished, and, at the same time, why don’t we celebrate all that’s been achieved so far.