Friday, January 22, 2010


Submitted by Shawn Koppenhoefer - March 21, 1999
[Originally posted Jan 25, 1999 on LabanTalk]

Most of my interest in notation is with respect to my work in teaching and notating Argentine Tango... In this dance (as I'm sure in many others) the notion of "stillness" is embodied by so many different possibilities! Reading Ann's text, I was left wondering how to show difference between stillness "like a statue" and stillness "like in expectation".

What is the difference between a ball sitting "still" on the floor, and that same ball sitting "still" at the apex of its upward/downward trajectory when thrown? What is the difference between the stillness of a person looking up,.. and that same person waiting for that ball to come back down? What is "stillness" if I am being carried by my partner? What is "stillness" if I am"accompanying" my partner with my movements but not leading her steps (my "creativity" is silent for a moment).

Generally, in argentine-tango, the man guides the steps and energy of the woman... but he can also "offer" her (by reducing his own energy) the opportunity to temporarily "take-over". He then retakes control (by increasing his energy over that of the woman). In between these two moments he accompanies the woman's movements, listening to*her* guiding... he is "still" in mind if not in body. Visually, this cannot be seen (or shouldn't be seeable!) but inside the couple the"contract" of energy (who guides whom and when) is a very live and important element of the dance... something so far missing in the notations that I've seen.

I think that having a symbol for "stillness" is wonderful... maybe we also need ways of annotating the symbol to specify what kind of stillness it is? If we accept the usefulness of a stillness symbol... what about "hesitation"-ness?? "firmness" "fearful."

... I find it difficult to delineate what "qualities" should be left out of motif writing and what qualities left in.


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