Friday, February 5, 2010

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, October 20, 2009

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - February 5, 2010

Following are minutes for the Open Theory Meeting held at the Dance Notation Bureau, October 20, 2009. The minutes were written by Charlotte Wile.

Present: Susan Gingrasso (by telephone), Oona Haaranen, Mira Kim, Mei-Chen Lu, Lynne Weber, and Charlotte Wile.

1) ICKL Motif Fellows Proposal
2) Palm Facing; Reading of Pre-sign (from AHG “Miscellaneous Discussion Points”)
3) Phrasing Term (from AHG “Miscellaneous Discussion Points”)
4) AHG “Miscellaneous Discussion Points” (the whole paper)


1.2 Before the meeting Susan sent the following report on the ICKL discussion of the Motif Fellows proposal [Paragraph numbers have been added for these minutes]


Motif Fellows: Ways to begin a dialog about Motif Notation
Prepared by Tina Curran and Susan Gingrasso

1.4 Those who met at ICKL (Bangkok, 2009) about the concept of Motif Fellows and how to proceed recommended that those of us actively using Motif:
a. need to connect with other Motif practitioners;
b. ascertain if other practitioners are actually interested in developing a dialog about usage, meaning, etc.
1.5 If other practitioners are interested in a discussion and interchange of information (probably web based), then the dialog might eventually lead to something as formal as Motif Fellows.

1.6 Tina Curran and I [S. Gingrasso] have discussed how to proceed and have identified some possible steps:
a. Share history with Charlotte Wile, Lucy Venable and Odette Blum to see if they can add;
b. Review points one more time before making calls and/or sharing document;
c. Start calls and document summary of discussion and significant points at end of document (or within if felt important);
d. Write introduction to mapping of conversations from 2005-05 meetings for CW to post on DNB Theory Bulletin Board.
1.7 Professional exchanges about Motif have a history

1.8 Context for the current idea: The idea of Motif Fellows occurred at the International Council of Kinetography/Laban conference in Mexico City, August 2007. Discussions took place to create a forum of discussion for practitioners using Motif in recognition that the community of Motif practitioners had been growing internationally. If practitioners desired to pursue the idea, there should be a place where thoughtful and rigorous discussion of Motif theory, pedagogy and applications could take place.

1.9 The Opportunity

Creating a Motif Fellows or an organized Motif Group is an opportunity to bring practitioners from across the Laban community together to discuss theory, share pedagogy and applications and the integration of Laban-based work.

1.10 Need/Rationale
Need: To create a recognized and ongoing space for discussions to occur related to the theory, pedagogy and application of Motif-no such forum currently exists that encompasses practitioners from the various Laban-based practices.

Rationale for existence-some ideas to get us started:
  • Involve constituents across the Laban community in a discussion about Motif Notation in and across applications;
  • Build a larger base from diverse constituents;
  • Cultivate international collaboration and community;
  • Develop dance literacy through entry of Motif and nurture growing knowledge within Laban Studies (LMA, LN, LOD and...)
1.11 A Possible Goal
Active dialog among Motif practitioners from diverse backgrounds and applications would facilitate the creation of a community at a practical level, promote visionary possibilities and encourage dance literacy through the use, application and development of Motif.

1.12 Possible Ojectives

a. To share, investigate and develop Motif Notation use including the areas of:
  • Theory questions, developments, proposals;
  • Pedagogical concerns, needs, examples of best practice;
  • Applications in practice, research, education, etc.
b. To create a dedicated opportunity with structural support for ongoing dialogue;
c. To make accessible, inviting and generative constituent participation across the Laban community globally; and
d. To structure guidelines for sharing, proposals, discussion documentation, dissemination and archiving.
1.13 Questions for our constituents
a. What is your thought about this kind of group being formed?
b. Would you be interested to participate?
c. How would this kind of a forum be useful/helpful to you?
d. What questions do you have?
1.14 Considerations for forming the first group of Fellows
a. Who is activity using Motif in their practice?
b. Who is using Motif in a developmental way?

[End of Susan's report]
1.15 Susan gave further information about her report and the ICKL meeting. About thirty people attended. Many people there felt that it is important to first find out if the wider Motif Notation community feels it would be useful to establish Motif Fellows. Are Motif practitioners interested in having a dialogue about Motif Notation theory?

1.16 Charlotte said such an interest has already been clearly demonstrated. For example, many of the over twenty DNB Open Theory Meetings from 2007 to the present have dealt with Motif theory. Those meetings have engaged many of the major voices in the Laban community, including a diverse group that included people from the DNB, Ohio State, LIMS, IMS, LODC, Southern Methodist University, and various other schools and institutions. The 2005-2007 LODC/DNB/LIMS Motif meetings, the 2002 Motif Symposium at Ohio State, and the 2004 Motif Symposium at Southern Illinois University were also largely concerned with theory. In addition, there have been numerous discussions about Motif issues on LabanTalk, CMAlist and the Theory Bulletin Board.

1.17 Charlotte asked if the people at the ICKL meeting were mainly LN practitioners. Susan said they were. Charlotte wondered if this may have influenced the discussion of the Motif Fellows proposal. Perhaps they aren't aware of all the work that has been going on to further develop Motif Notation.

1.18 The group had several ideas about what steps could be taken next to show the need for Motif Fellows at ICKL.

1.19 Charlotte: In recent years there have been many papers presented at ICKL about applications of Motif Notation, e.g., how it can be used to teach children or to choreograph a dance. However, there have not been any Motif theoretical papers, e.g., to clarify the meaning of established symbols and terminology, or that propose new symbols and terminology. Perhaps presenting such papers at ICKL will create a need for Motif Fellows to discuss and adjudicate them.

1.20 The expense of going to ICKL conferences may prevent people from being able to present such papers. Perhaps technology such as Skype could make it possible for people to participate without having to be there in person. In addition, this would open up the conferences to many more people in the worldwide Laban community. The DNB has been successfully experimenting with such technology.

1.21 Mei pointed out that if someone would like to present a paper but cannot attend an ICKL conference, they can have someone else present it.

1.22 Perhaps Susan or someone else could write an ICKL paper describing the conversation that is already going on about Motif issues. For instance, Open Theory Meeting minutes archived on the Theory Bulletin Board include many, many examples of rigorous, extensive Motif discussions by a wide cross-section of people in the Laban community. Sometimes people who cannot attend meetings respond to these online postings, thus continuing and expanding the dialogue. Some back and forth exchanges have taken place over several meetings. Other threads on the Bulletin Board contain compilations of Motif related discussions originally posted on LabanTalk and CMAlist.

1.23 Mei: Tina Curran has been working with the NYC public schools and the 92nd street Y DEL program to integrate Motif Notation into their curriculum. Perhaps students and teachers there could meet to share their ideas about the theory. This forum could be another resource for showing an ongoing interest in discussing Motif theory.


2.2 Topics #2 and #3 concern Ann Hutchinson Guest's paper “Miscellaneous Discussion Points (see 4.1 below),” which contains her notes on minutes for various past Open Theory Meetings.

2.3 At the September 10, 2007 meeting there was a discussion about proposed indications for Even Phrasing (2a here), Decrease Phrasing (2b here), and Increase Phrasing (2c here). The signs indicate “Phrasing Patterns”, i.e., the maintaining or changing (decrease or increase) of an aspect of movement. Such patterns can be found in various movement components, such as Effort, the number of body parts that move, tempo, or the size of the kinesphere (reach space). For instance, the Effort loading and/or intensity in a unit of movement(s) can increase, decrease, or remain constant. Likewise, the size of the one's reach space might increase, decrease, or remain constant; the movement's tempo might increase, decrease, or remain constant; and so forth.

2.4 In “Miscellaneous Discussion Points (see 4.1 below)” Ann asked, “Is 'phrasing' the right word? If we come from usage in music, it is closer to sentence structure, the use in movement of a comma, a semi-colon, a period, etc. I need more explanation to understand how accumulation of parts of the body moving can be interpreted as Phrasing.”

2.5 At this (Oct 20, 2009) meeting Charlotte said she agrees that the term Phrasing does not seem suitable. What would be a better term? The group discussed various ideas:

2.6 Everyone felt the term should express three ideas:

a. amount;
b. unit;
c. change/maintain.
2.7 Charlotte suggested the term “Amount Pattern.” Lynne felt that “Pattern” doesn't work because it connotes repetition, which is not necessarily an aspect of the given indications. The word “velocity” was also considered, but also did not seem exactly right.

2.8 Mira suggested “Amount Variations.” Everyone felt that term might work.


3.2 In response to the October 1, 2007 meeting Ann's wrote, “I want to pick up on Ex. 3d. According to long established LN usage, the action of flexing occurs all during the forward gesture. It is a pre-sign which is interpreted as taking the timing of the movement that follows. In Motif Notation this usage is not appropriate; it has to be written as 3e. If the movement of flexing is to occur before the movement to forward middle, then a very small duration line must be used, as in 3dd to separate it from the direction symbol.”

3.3 [Note: Examples 3d, 3e, and 3dd are labeled 2d, 2e, and 2dd in Ann's paper]

3.4 The group discussed 3d, 3e, 3dd. Everyone agreed that in LN 3d and 3e say the same thing: flex while going forward (i.e., do one movement). Also, they felt that 3dd would not be used in LN. First of all, a line connected to the flexion sign would obscure the top dot if one were writing six degrees of contraction. In LN, two movements after the barline would be written as in 3f below. [Addendum from Charlotte: In Motif Notation, why can't fast flexion be written without the duration line, as in 3d? Also, if 3e is Motif Notation, shouldn't the duration line be connected to the flexion sign?]

3.5 Lynne said that in LN the small double bar line can be used to make the flexion sign a pre-sign, as in 3g. No one else at the meeting had heard of this idea before.
3.6 As an addendum, Mei said the issues in this topic have apparently been under discussion for a long time, as evidenced by the following excerpt from minutes for theory meetings held June 9-12, 1981. (Note in 8.3 the use of the small double bar lines that Lynne alluded to in our meeting.)

3.7 “Ways of writing simultaneous contraction and rotation were discussed. Every¬one agreed that example 8.1 expresses a true statement. (Simultaneous contrac¬tion and gesturing can be written either way.) It was felt by the group that the same ought to be true for simultaneous contraction and rotation/twist. As with gesturing, the x should be treated as a presign which codifies the whole turn symbol. The group would like to see example 8.2 accepted as a true statement. If the movement wanted is a sudden contraction followed by a separate twisting, it could be written as in example 8.3. Many of us have been writing 8.4 to mean example 8.5. Does this need to be rethought? The issue of writing simultaneous contraction and rotation is touched on in the ICKL paper on in the Inner Subsidiary Column and say be discussed at the ICKL conference in August, 1981.”

[End of excerpt from the 1981 minutes]

3.8 There was not enough time to discuss other items in Ann's paper. The group would like to discuss them at future meetings. The entire paper is below. In the original paper the examples were given on separate pages from the text. For these minutes the paper has been reformatted so that examples are placed below the appropriate text. In addition, paragraph numbers have been added for future reference.

4.1 TOPIC # 4 -

4.2 From going over various old DNB Minutes of the Theory Meetings, I have made a note of a few points I would like to comment on. Note that AK refers to Knust's book.

4.3 Inclusion Bows (Aug. 6th, 2007)
The movement in Ex. la is of the right hand making a circular path (pattern) which includes inward, then outward rotation. The timing of the rotations is not given. During the main movement the arm is allowed to react passively. The sign for the area of the wrist should have a tick on the front of the box.

4.4 Ex. 2a: The inclusion bow goes into the arm column, thus the included part should be the arm. But I do not know how such inclusion might be performed. The arm could react passively to the chest tilt, but - an active inclusion? For this example I would not automatically understand the pelvis to be included in the chest tilt; it would need to be stated by placing the pelvis sign within the inclusion bracket, 2aa.

4.5 Generic Cartwheel Sign (Aug. 6th, 2007)
There can always be good new ideas in preference to the old. Because at the time we tried every kind of possibility in finding a clear, appropriate sign for a generic cartwheel, it was rather like seeing the wheel being reinvented to see this ground being covered again!

4.6 I find Ex. 4a acceptable because it incorporates the sign for either side (the horizontal ad lib. sign on a vertical stroke). The fact that some generic signs incorporate an ad lib. sign and many don't, does not bother me, however, if use or non-use of the ad lib. sign is a real problem, then perhaps we need to go back to the drawing board.
4.7 Touching Leg Gesture (Aug. 6th, 2007)
For examples such as these I would like to see the spelling out of what you want to happen, the movement intended. I agree with Ex. 8a. My 8g states a conscious sliding of the ball of the foot on the floor during the leg rotations. If a release should occur, it should be stated, Ex. 8h.
4.8 Generic Accent Sign (Sept. 10th, 2007, and Oct. 1st, 2007)
My solution for this is to have the ad lib. sign inside the plain white accent sign, Ex. 2aa. The logic is that it is the 'shading' (or lack of it) inside the sign that provides the difference. Degree for a strong accent sign has been indicated by using two or three strong accent signs, as in 2bb and 2cc (AK 717d, e). Note AK's use of a vertical accent sign to show that lifting into the air is to be stressed, AK 52Id'.

4.9 Accent, Emphasis My understanding, taken from music, has always been that an accent is sudden, it is always momentary. If it is lengthened in time it becomes a stress to be shown by other signs, not by an accent sign. It is true that Knust used an accent sign in a bracket to give it duration and express muscular tension, AK 732a here, because he had no other means. Knust once admitted to me that he was weak on the subject of dynamics. Seeing that his set of dynamic signs were not clearly thought out or sufficiently developed, we did not see any need to follow his usage. For us, an accent sign placed in an addition bracket indicates that the movement should include an accent, just when or where is left up to the performer.

4.10 Emphasis can have duration. In movement, as in speech, the manner of emphasis may involve force, slowing down or speeding up, etr,. aspects that can be analyzed and notated. A momentary emphasis (truly momentary) becomes an accent.
4.11 A Generic Dynamic Sign (Sept. 10th, 2007)
What an interesting discussion! Sorry I was not there. My first thought is that the sign for 'par', Ex. 31, might be a basic sign, perhaps add the ad lib. sign as in 3m. Because anything indicated in the middle of the bows refers to relationship to gravity, the Minutes report signs of 3f, 3g, 3h, 3i, and 3j would not be appropriate; they suggest only that the degree of relationship to gravity is left open. For any rise in energy, the sign of 3n would suggest open degree of energy and open degree of fighting gravity. Similarly, 3o would indicate open degree in loss of energy and open amount of use of gravity. If the white circle is used as the basic amount, then an ad lib. through it, as in 3p and 3q might give the message more visually. Or, perhaps, Ex. 3r might be more eye-catching, or would 3s get the message across?

4.12 Phrasing (Sept. 10th, 2007)
Is 'phrasing' the right word? If we come from usage in music, it is closer to sentence structure, the use in movement of a comma, a semi-colon, a period, etc. I need more explanation to understand how accumulation of parts of the body moving can be interpreted as Phrasing. For Ex. 4h, I would like to change the explanation to "Go away from the forward direction." What does "Cancel the forward movement mean?"

4.13 Kinesphere Sign (Sept. 10th, 2007)
The signs of 5g, 5h and 5i seem to provide possibilities. They are not movement signs, thus they cannot themselves indicate timing. An action stroke is needed to provide the 'verb'. Ex. 5r could mean an action that ends in near space. Ex. 5s is best to show duration.

4.14 Note that, according to established Labanotation/Kinetography usage, 5t and 5u are the same. The small vertical linking bow in 5u states the aim, the destination of the action, it is not another movement instruction. Perhaps what Jen wants should be expressed as in 5uu: toward the end of the arm gesture there is a separate movement of flexing. My interpretation of 5z is that you are in near space at the start and do not move away from it; this is better expressed as 5zz. A comparable example might be 5zzz in which a placement on stage is shown at the start. If the action stroke might be interpreted as travelling, then spatial retention for that part of the room might be needed. I have not gone into the many previous Kinesphere discussions, so will leave this matter here.

4.15 Palm Facing; Reading of Pre-sign (Oct. 1st, 2007)
For the palm facing indications of Exs. 2a - 2c, it is better to state what is wanted rather than to rely on establishing rules (my "keep rules to a minimum" crusade!) I want to pick up on Ex. 2d. According to long established LN usage, the action of flexing occurs all during the forward gesture. It is a pre-sign which is interpreted as taking the timing of the movement that follows. In Motif Notation this usage is not appropriate, it has to be written as 2e. If the movement of flexing is to occur before the movement to forward middle, then a very small duration line must be used, as in 2dd to separate it from the direction symbol.

4.16 Quality of Stillness (Oct. 1st, 2007)
I disagree with Ray, pausing and stillness are not the same thing. Cessation of movement is shown by a gap. This cessation may be brief, as in a pause, or of longer duration, a real stop, a holding of the arrival point of the previous movement. Such holding may be a held position, as in a statue. The idea of Stillness has been that there is no movement change but the point of arrival is alive. How that aliveness is expressed can vary. A whole discussion can center on this topic. In the examples 4e - 4h in the Oct. 1st, 2007 report, Charlotte indicated some ideas of what the stillness content might be. Visually, I think it would be better to have the direction symbols in the bracket smaller and thinner. I question Ex. 4f, why does the curved bracket extend down to the start of the place high symbol? Does the downward feeling start there?
4.17 Distance Indications (Nov. 26, 2007; January 7th, 2008; April 7, 2008)
In the following examples N stands for new. The origin of the bow for 'near', Na, came from the bow for contact, touching, Nb. The idea was that by using a dotted line it was 'weakened', making it 'nearly touching'. Dotted lines are used for passive, as in a passive path, Nc. In Nd the dotted lines indicate passive (not active) and so the arms react passively during the torso twists. The dotted lines in 'awareness', Ne, are a lesser degree of addressing, Nf, which is always an active occurrence.

4.18 On page 3, Charlotte stated "Addressing denotes awareness." Yes, it is the aim of an action. But 'awareness' is the weaker state, no active motion occurs, hence the dotted line of Ne.

4.19 Changing the size or shape of the dots is dangerous, people's handwritten notation varies too much. On the computer, can the notation programs handle such small differences? Degrees of distance should be indicated in a diamond, as Charlotte suggested, Ex. Ij - 1m. These are still relative degrees.
4.20 Comment on Ex. li, page 3: It would be better to have the left hand touching the right arm, more variation possible! After moving away, there should be an action that will result in the following nearness, given here as Hi.
4.21 Distance Indications (Nov. 26th, 2007, April 7th, 2008)
Indication of Far. My idea of the double arrowhead line, 3g, was to show distance between two parts, or two people. In Nh it shows the hands to be far apart. In Ni they are very far apart. Knust indicated distance in a square. He took the number to refer to step-lengths, but would also define what measure was being used -feet, meters, etc. In Nj two step-lengths is stated. The distance between performer A and B in Nk is three step-lengths, B is on A's right.
4.22 The applications of the double arrow line, illustrated in 3h - 3q seem quite inappropriate to me. They would involve additional learning of differences.

4.23 Transient Touch (April 7th, 2008)
My question for Ex. la: is Unit Timing being used? If so, there will be a pause between the diagonal touch and the forward low gesture. In Ib it is clearly one movement. For Id the hooks are very close together so the sliding will be very brief. Technically it will produce the path of Iff, not that shown in If, but in actual practice it would probably become a curve. If the hooks are farther apart, as in Ig, then the line of the path will be flatter in the middle (more time spent on sliding on the floor), Igg.

4.24 Flexion, Extension Indications (April 7th, 2008)
Page 7: I had previously come up with Mira's Ex. 4n and 4o, so we have similar thinking! Note the correction that 4n is marked flexion, not extension.

1 comment:

  1. Comments from Jimmyle Listenbee. Re: Susan Gingrasso's ICKL Motif Fellows report in the October 20, 2009 minutes. Paragraph numbers refer to the Oct 20 minutes.

    1.4 (2) I am very interested in helping develop dialogue among Laban-based motif users and participating in such a dialog.

    1.5 Web-based is good. Active participation could be good screening criterion and also pro-active tool in developing dynamic, broad-based discourse.

    1.7 History: Correction. The 2001 and 2004 Motif Symposiums at Columbus and Edwardsville were also co-sponsored by Motus Humanus.

    1.10 From my perspective, the following is the crucial core of the proposal. I have highlighted key words in Susan & Tina's text and in my comments below

    Comment A: If CMA's are to become truly active in the discourse, the spirit of active, creative, dynamic use of motif must be honored equally along with rigorous investigation of both similarities and differences among different traditions of usage and practice. It must not devolve to a question of "who is correct"; it must be an ongoing process of learning each other's continually evolving languages.

    1.10 Need/Rationale
    Need: To create a recognized and ongoing space for discussions to occur related to the theory, pedagogy and application of Motif-no such forum currently exists that encompasses practitioners from the various Laban-based practices. See Comment A above.

    Rationale for existence-some ideas to get us started.
    - Involve constituents across the Laban community in a discussion about Motif Notation in and across applications; See Comment A above.
    - Build a larger base from diverse constituents; See Comment A above.
    - Cultivate international collaboration and community; Yes, especially through substantial multi-lingual semantic research.
    - Develop dance literacy through entry of Motif and nurture growing knowledge within Laban Studies (LMA, LN, and LOD, etc.)

    1.12 All these objectives are excellent and necessary.

    1.13 Questions & my personal answers

    (a) I worked very hard for many years to encourage such a group, and would be ecstatic if it came to be.
    (b) Of course I want to participate! Have said so forever. Feel oppressed by one-sided, limited, defensive thinking, & competitive spirit of discussions dominated by Labanotation & LOD practitioners.
    (c) I believe it would be useful to the world for everyone in the Laban community to realize that we share a common language in Motif
    (d) My main questions are:
    Are ICKL, LOD and the Labanotation community ready to welcome the changing, nuanced concepts/symbols of LMA (& Kestenberg, etc.) with open arms and a willingness to learn and include?
    Is the CMA community ready to welcome the well-reasoned, consistent and concrete concepts/symbols of LOD & Labanotation with open arms and a willingness to learn and include?