Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Moving Space" -- Laban scales on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad

Submitted by Brenton Cheng - October 13, 2010

Friends and colleagues,

Laban moves into the 21st century!

I am happy to announce the release of "Moving Space: The Laban Scales" -- an interactive, 3D compendium of the Space Harmony scales for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Perfect for teachers and students as a teaching/study aid and way to explore the scales.

You can watch a demo of the app here:

Direct link to the app in iTunes (Apple App Store):

In our certification programs, we have long been using a variety of discovered and constructed objects in an attempt to convey to students a sense of the 3D structure of the scales. When Michael Neff, a computer animation researcher who did our program, created a short 3D movie illustrating the Axis and Girdle Scales, I was struck by how beautifully and clearly the scale's form was revealed, much more effectively than our string-and-plastic-tubing models.

Granted, a computer visualization will never substitute for embodiment, but it became obvious to me how an interactive scale reference utilizing a touchscreen could provide an instantly graspable sense of the scales' form, which could *facilitate* embodiment.

This is the result.

Please consider checking out the app, letting your students know about it, and sending me any feedback or suggestions. Features will continue to be added in response to your input, and once you have the app, updates are always free.

If you like it, consider rating the app and adding a review in the App Store, which will increase exposure of the app (and LMA) to the general public.


Brenton Cheng
Faculty, Integrated Movement Studies
Berkeley Laban/Bartenieff Certificate Program 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Labanotator (1957-1965, 1978-1994)

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 13, 2010

Long before there was a Theory Bulletin Board, LabanTalk, and the CMAlist, The Labanotator provided a forum for discussing notation issues. This important periodical, edited by Ann Hutchinson Guest, was published by the Dance Notation Bureau (1957-1965) and the Language of Dance Centre (1978-1994).

The links below go to facsimiles of all 76 issues of the periodical.

Issue No. 73 contains an Index of Contents (by topic) for all issues up to October 1993. 

Note: Some of the facsimiles were scanned from xerox copies of the journal. In a few places the xeroxing was poor and could not be scanned clearly.

Issue No. 1, December 1957
Topics: Teaching – Basic Approach, Simplification with Facing Pins; Notating – The Staple; Unification – Ticks and Bar lines; Work in Progress

Topics: An "Unsprung" Coupé; A Reference to Normal; Description for Rotations of Head, etc.; Suggested Changes: Pins for Positions of the Feet; Unification: Bar Lines

Topics: The Center of Gravity Sign, Suggested Change; The Writing of Facing Pins; Suggested Sign for Facing; Placement of Change of Key Sign

Topics: Variations on the Whole Torso Sign; Sign for Facing: New Interpretation; Additional Degrees; Use of Relationship Pins (Position Signs)

Topics: Center of Gravity Sign – Knust's New Suggestion; Parts of the Torso Signs – Suggestions from the 1st International Conference and Further Discussions (Use of Third Column, and Use of Hip and Pelvis Signs)

Topics: Report from the 1st International Conference – continued (The 48 Areas of the Torso, Centre of Gravity plus Trunk Movements, Shifts, Whole Body Rotations – Cartwheels); Relationship Pins – Rule Clarified – New Suggestion; Response to The Labanotator No. 4 Questionnaire

Topics: Dynamics – Addition of a New Indication; Spine Inclusions for Head Tilts; Vertical Bows – Clarification, New Use; Rotations of the Legs – Normal State

Topics: The International Conference this Summer; Butterflies or Boats?; Circular Paths for Limbs of the Body

Topics: Review of Purpose of The Labanotator – Its Function Towards Unification, How to Approach Material Presented; Achievement So Far – Unification, Discussions Pending, Material Still to be Discussed; Answers to The Labanotators Nos. 7 and 8; Stretching the Limbs: Suggested New Rule, Hyperextended Limb or Joint, Stretched and Hyperextended Whole Torso; Clarification – Use of Flex and Stretch as Position or Movement; Contents of Issues Nos. I – C of The Labanotator (separate sheet)

Topics: Corrections – The Previous Issue: Achievements So Far; The Labanotation Textbook: Levels of Jumps, Levels of Kneeling, Blind Turns; Validity of a Symbol – Automatic Body or Space Hold?; Degrees of Distance – 2 or 6? (Short Steps, Flexions, Long Steps)

Topics: Cancellations – Formation of the Rule, Automatic Cancellation, Automatic Retention; Does the Whole Limb Cancel Its Parts? (Possible Solutions, New Proposal)

Topics: Levels of Supports; Levels of Walking After Kneeling; Levels of Supports When Center  of Gravity is [Middle Level]; Use of Hooks for Supports – Knust's Objection

Topics: Pelvic Tilts – Single Hip or Pelvic Girdle Shifts; Pelvic Rotation, as in a "Contraction"; Shading of the Turn Sign; Circular Path – Circle as Much as Possible – New Proposal

Topic: Touching and Sliding Leg Gestures

Topic: Touching and Sliding Leg Gestures – Further Clarification

Topics: Touching and Sliding Hand and Arm Gestures; Hooks on Support Symbols, Further Comment; Szentpal Rule for Hold Sign in Support Column; Overlap of Support Symbols after a Jump

Topics: Validity of a Symbol – Conclusion; Third Column (Upper-Part-of-Body-Movements) – Solution; LN Meaning for [Chest Sign] – Suggested Change; Indication for Facing – New Proposal; Supports Qualified by Hooks – Further Clarification; Szentpal Rule for Hold Sign – Corrections and Clarification

Topic: The Four Crosses of Axes

Topics: Whole Torso – A Single Unit of Two Parts Combined?; Torso Twists: Blind Turns; Rigid, Flexible Tilts; Meaning of Step in Place after Positions on Two Feet; Step-Turn Problems; Time Value for Simultaneous Action Bow

Topics: Distinction Between Thumb and Little Finger Edge; Statement of Thumb Facing; Center of Gravity Problems; Need for Statement of Center of Gravity; Degrees of Lowering Center of Gravity; Hold Signs for Center of Gravity

Topics: The Action Stroke – Duration Line

Topics: Double Starting Lines; Terminology – Corrections; Touches and Slides for Hand Gestures, Contributed by Albrecht Knust; Crosses of Axes – The Next Step

Topics: Presented by Maria Szentpal – Position Pins Near Direction Symbols (The Centre Line Problem)

Issue No. 24, 1965
Topics: Replies to Comments on The Labanotator No. 21 (Knust's Use of the Increase Sign; The De-
crease Sign; etc.); Touching and Sliding Hand and Arm Gestures – Further Clarification by Knust

Issue No. 25, 1965
Topics: Distance between Supports in Sitting and Lying; Drawing of Joint Symbols and of Spot Hold for Unification; Length of Bar Lines; Drawing of Symbols for Wide, Long

Issue No. 26, January 1978
Topics: Does [the Base of the Hand] Exist?; Relationship Pins; What Do These Mean?; Starting Position Gaposis?; Verb or Adjective?; Helpful Bits; Aerial Turns; Hold or Carry Your Skirt?; Change of Level While Swivelling; See Floor Plan; Slanting Support Lines; Intermediate Directions; Starting Position Off-Stage; Answers to Quiz

Issue No. 27, April 1979
Topics: Labanotator Textbook II; Comments on Issue 26; Relationship to Focal Point; Repeat of a Reprise; Arms in 2nd in Ballet; Vertical Bows: Are Two Needed?; Looking, Facing Requires a Verb; Ad Lib. Runs; Bow Not Needed

Issue No. 28, June 1979
Topics: Comments on Issue No. 27; Contributions from Maria Szentpal; Counts, Beats, Terminology; Accelerardo, Ritardo; Statement of Unit; Unfolding; Sequential Movement; Tap Dictionary in Preparation

Issue No. 29, November 1979
Topics: Anatomical Descriptions; White Pins for Head Rotations; Shift or Step?; Wishful Possibility; Stopped Movements; White Pins in Turn Signs; Placement of Pin; Both or Either; Degree of Led By; Comments on Issue No.27; Jazz Study by David McKittrick; Indication of Reprise, Squibs

Issue No. 30, February 1980
Topics: Level in Standing; Foot Direction on Circular Paths; Proposed Key for Direction in Relationship to Focal Point; Definition of Arm Column; Variations of Supporting Bow; Cut the Corners; Timing of Looking; Understood Neighboring Direction; Effect of Heel Height on Level of Support; Interpretation of Stance Key; Comments to Issue; Squibs

Comments to The Labanotator #30, by Muriel Topaz (March 28, 1980) 

Issue No. 31, June 1980
Topics: The Nature of this Publication; Comments on Issue No. 29; Snippet – Rubbing the Knee; Snippet – Where is Place?; Use of the Caret; Revolving on a Straight Path; Excerpt from 116 Modern Dance Classroom Combinations by Ray Cook; Hop Turns; Assemble Turns; Simplified Form; Aerial Turns – Air Lines; Snippet – When an Object is Grasped; Errata; Publication of Responses

Issue No. 32, November 1980
Topics: Simplification in Writing Stepping Patterns; Staples, Carets; The 'Same Spot'; Position or Movement Writing?; Double Carets; Timing – General or Specific?; Timing, Terminating Touches; The Question of What Follows; Legato, Staccato; Specific Timing – Some Leeway; Visualization of Rhythms; Keys, General, Specific Timing; Slight Developpe

Issue No. 33, April 1981
Topics: Analysis and Notating of Tap Dancing; Use of Double Horizontal Lines; Sectional Repeats for Group Scores; Sectional Repeats – Restatement of Material

Issue No. 34, November 1981 
Topic: Anatomical Descriptions: Terminology, Reference Point (State), Degrees of Folding, Direction of Folding (Hinge Joints), The Knee, The Ankle – Reference Point (State),  Direction of Ankle Flexion, Ankle Extension or Foot Extension?, Ball and Socket Joints, Direction of Folding, Shoulder Flexion, Indication of Rotation, Abduction and Adduction, Destinational Points, Movements of the Shoulder Blade, Movement Segment and Fixed Segment, Hip Contraction, Cancellation of Folding

Isuue No. 35, April 1982 
Topics: Intermediate Directions – Choice of Descriptions; Handling of Score Details; Heel Contact; Cancellation; Design Drawing – Statement of Size of the Design; Distance of Step; Shorthand Devices – "Retrace Path"; "Any", or "The One in Question"; Thoughts from Sigurd Leeder 

Issue No. 36, June 1983 
Topic: Canon Form

Issue No. 37, October 1983 
Topics: Relationship to Focal Point; Empty Direction Symbol for Pathway; Indication of Peripheral Pathway; Shift or Step?; Landing for Glissade, Pas de Chat, Sissonne, etc.; To Point or Not To Point; When Does Traveling Stop?; General Timing, Specific Timing; Indication of General or Specific Timing

Response The Labanotator #37, by Muriel Topaz [April 4, 1984?] 

Issue No. 38, October 1984
Topic: Indication of Paths for Gestures (Based on a 1969 ICKL Paper by Ann Hutchinson Guest) 

Issue No. 39, January 1985
Topic: Notating Chinese Kenpo Karate (Direction of Attention, Center Line of the Body, Leg Rotations, Body Facings, Secret Turn, Gestural Paths, Direction from Body Part, Shorthand or Simplified Version) 

Issue No. 40, April 1985
Topic: Dynamics 

Issue No. 41, June 1985
Topics: Motif Description (Body-as-a-Whole Movements, Open Choice Movements); Use of Keys; Change of Staffs; Looking, Addressing; Writing 'Both Hands', etc. on One Side of the Staff 

Issue No. 42, November 1985
Topics: D.B.P. for Gestures; Signs for Right and Left Hips and Knees; Specific Contraction; Hip Movements – Point of Reference; Shoulder Movements – Point of Reference; Distance in Sitting; Unfolding 

Issue No. 43, February 1986
Topics: Duration Line – Action Stroke; Revolving While Travelling; Directions – General to Specific Statement; Design Drawing – Statement of Shape of Surface; Signs for Spreading, Closing

Issue No. 44, May 1986
Topics: Centre of Gravity (Retention, Cancellation); Supports (Placement of Hooks); Comments to The  Labanotator No. 42; Use of [Curved and Angular Release Signs] in Support Column 

Issue No. 45, November 1986
Topics: Dynamic Signs – Right and Left?; Dynamic Signs – Impulsive/Impact/Swing; Meaning of [Turn Signs];  Passive Turns – Symbology; Cancellation of Body Rotation/Twists; Statement of Shifting in Addition Bracket; Repeat Movement or Notation?; Fluent Change of Level in Steps; Moving from an Open to Closed Position; Choice of Description in Levels of Supports; Choice of Directional Statement; "Opening the Chest"; Palm Facing – Timing 

Issue No. 46, February 1987
Topics: Log Rolling – Carriage of the Limbs, the Standard Retention; Folding from the Base of the Knuckles; Body Key for Palm Facing; Heel Drop ("Heel Lower", "Add Heel"); Heeled Shoes – Use of Hooks; Sound, No Sound; Retention/Adjustment of Grasping (Hands); Labanotation Textbook II; Comments on The Labanotator No. 44 

Issue No. 47. May 1987
Topics: Secret Turns; Abduction and Adduction of the Thumb; Choice of Directional Definition; Each One; General to Specific Meaning; Comments on The Labanotator No. 45 

Issue No. 48, October 1987 
Topics: 'Passive', 'Following', 'Resultant'; Travelling Turn in the Air; Diamonds Galore!; Repeats; Advantage of Round Pins for Floor Plans; Relationship between Support and Leg Gesture Movements; More Comments on The Labanotator No. 45

Issue No. 49, November 1987
Topics: Release Sign in the Support Column; Timing – Release Sign, Action Stroke; Existing Uses; Score Checking; Labanotation Textbook 11 Chapters 

Issue No. 50, January 1988
Topics: Slow Closing into Fifth Position; Aplomb (Line of Balance); 'Feeling', Intention; Looking 'Beyond'; Contraction and Folding of the Arm – Hand Indication; Comments on The Labanotator No. 46 

Issue No. 51, April 1988
Topics: Intermediate Directions; Retire Positions – Exact Description; Comments on The Labanotator No. 46 (continued) 

Issue No. 52, August 1988
Topics: Body Hold Sign for 'Rigidity?; Partnerwork/Floorwork – Simple Description; Comments on The Labanotator Nos. 47, 48, and 49 

Issue No. 53, October 1988
Topics: Orientation Indications – Clarifications; Use of Constant Key for Orientation; Abbreviated Orientation Indications; The Missing Directions; Comments on The Labanotator Nos. 49, 50, and 51 

Issue No. 54, January 1989
Topics: 'Passive', 'Resultant' Movement; Standard Rotation for the Arms – A Change; 'Normal' Turn-out for Legs; Snippets (Pins for Crossed Arms, Undeviating Step); The Labanotator Table of Contents 

Issue No. 55, April 1989
Topics: Hand Circles; Do We Describe Intention, Idea?; Comments on The Labanotator No. 54 

Issue No. 56, July 1989
Topics: Hand Circles Continued (Horizontal Circles, Sagittal Circles, Use of Keys, Gathering and Scattering); Do Short Signs Mean Sudden?; Path Signs as Modifier; Comments on The Labanotator Nos. 47, 49, 52, and 53 

Issue No. 57, October 1989
Topics: Hand Circles Continued – Addition of Sequential Movement (Successions), Individual Finger Articulation (Canonic Sequence), Combined Forms, Augmentation, Figure-eight Circles Small Figure-eights, Use of Pins to Indicate Small Circles, Modified Shape of Figure-eight; Further Comments on The Labanotator No. 54 

Issue No. 58, January 1990 
Topics: Change of Key for a Space Hold; Swing that Bow!; Thumbs Out; Afterflow; Approximate Moment of Passing; Floor Plans – Holding Hands; When does Movement Start?; Request for Hand Circle Comments 

Issue No. 59, April 1990
Topics: Use of the [Curved and Angular] Release Signs; The Meaning and Logical Use of [Angular Release Sign]; Axis of Turning; Spiral Paths on Floor Plans; Length of Path Signs; Duration of Leg Flexion; Timing of Level Change in a Step-Turn; A Return to the Topic of Resultant; Added Thoughts to Topic 1 

Issue No. 60, July 1990
Topics: Ankle Flexion – When Folding, When Contracting?; Performance of Sliding Steps; Measurement of Distance; Wrist or Lower Arm?; Labanotation Textbook II Update 

Issue No. 61, October 1990
Topics: The Beijing Labanotation Group – A Report by Ann Hutchinson Guest (Hands Sliding Along Another's Arms, Group Circling, Floor Work. Free Arm Swings); Ray Cook – Comments on The Labanotator No. 59 (Use of Release Signs, Writing Complex Floor Plans, Interpretation of Simple Statements – A Simple Run, The Ad Lib. Sign for Running); Terri Richards –  Steps, Change from Middle to Low Level; The History of the Development of Labanotation 

Issue No. 62, January 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part One 

Issue No. 63, April 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Two 

Issue No. 64, July 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Three 

Issue No. 65, October 1991
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Four 

Issue No. 66, January 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Five 

Issue No. 67, April 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Six 

Issue No. 68, July 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Seven 

Issue No. 69, October 1992
Topic: A History of the Development of the Laban System, Part Eight 

Issue No. 70. January 1993
Topics: An Analysis of Elbow Rotation, by Janos Fugedi; Handling of Props 

Issue no. 71, April 1993
Topics: The Handling of Objects (Representation of the Objects; Placement on the Staff; Contact, Hold, Carry, Carrying Hold; Directions for Objects); Pins – When Black, When Tack, When Track?; Pins for All-Fours Situations 

Issue No. 72, July 1993
Topics: Timing of Claps; Leg Gestures: Distance from Floor; Parts of the Fingers (for Movement, for Touch); Led by the Wrist; Fact or Feeling?; Limb Rotation – Back to Normal; Spot Hold or Space Hold?; Back to Normal or Disappear?; Part Leading – Use of Toe Hooks

Issue No. 73, October 1993 
Topics: Hand/Finger Fan; Track Pins, Black Pins; Led by the Wrist; Distance of Leg Gesture from Floor; Motif Indications?; Fact or Feeling?; Limb Rotation – Back to Normal?; Revolving While Travelling; The Labanotator Index of Contents, ed. 1994

Issue No. 74, January 1994 
Topics: The Practice of Specific Timing; Forms of Relating – A Generic Sign; Motif: Centre of Weight; A Menu of Movements 

Issue No. 75, April 1994
Topics: Paths, Traveling; Meandering Symbol – A New Idea; Path Signs and Room Areas; 'A Step'; LOD - 'Path' versus Traveling'; Movement of Body-as-a-Whole or of a Part?; Can a Starting Position Indicate Movement 

Issue No. 76, July 1994
Topics: Ballroom Dancing; Comments on The Labanotator No.75

Moving About: Capturing Movement Highlights Using Motif Notation, by Charlotte Wile with Ray Cook

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 7, 2010

I am happy to announce the publication of Moving About: Capturing Movement Highlights Using Motif Notation, by Charlotte Wile with Ray Cook.

Moving About teaches how to read and write Motif Notation. It tells about movement and how to tell what movement is about.

All aspects of movement are explored, including timing, body portion involvement, direction, Effort, Shape Modes, and actions (relating, traveling, forming body configurations, transferring weight, flexing and extending, falling, turning, going in the air, and changing altitude.) The book's 464 pages also contain many reading studies, quizzes, paradigms for concepts and indications, and an extensive bibliography.

For purchasing information and a free online preview, go to the Moving About website.

No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation

Submitted by Doris Green - October 7, 2010

Finally the music of African drums, bells, rattles, clappers, sticks and stones, can be written read and performed from a printout. As we know the music of Africa is largely percussive and exist as an oral tradition that is passed between generations by a mouth to ear process. Unfortunately any society that is entirely dependent upon oral communication for the transmission of its culture is doomed to failure because of outside interpretation and the breakdown of the human memory. Consequently each time the holders of this vast cultural knowledge died, they literally took archives of music to the grave where it was entombed and lost to the world forever. 

With the realization that over the course of time, much of their music was rapidly dissipating, Africans began to search for a way to document their music through written notation. For decades, if not centuries,  Africa was searching for a way to represent music of their instruments on paper. Africa’s desire to find a notation system for her instruments was unknown to a young high school student.  This young girl was a musician and dancer who needed to find a way to teach Congo drummers how to read music so they could play the proper music to accompany her choreography. When she heard her teacher comment that any sound could be written with Pitman stenography, she grabbed her pencil and wrote a drum rhythm. She used three stokes to accomplish this.

Doris Green would take this pattern and develop it into a system whereby not only African music could be written, but the accompanying dance movements, through Labanotation, could also be written as a single integrated score.  For the past 40 years Doris has covered Africa from Tanzania to Senegal, researching, teaching and sharing her knowledge with Africans. She served as a Fulbright Scholar, and US State Department Cultural Specialists.

Read my autobiography No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation.  This is the story of my life and the influence I had on the preservation of African music and dance. Now Africa has a notation system of her own. 

For additional information on Doris Green and her work please view:

Online Exhibit - Greennotation