Thursday, October 13, 2011

JPAS, On Line Journal

JPAS, On Line Journal
Submitted by Doris Green - October 13, 2011

JPAS (Journal of Pan African Studies) is an online publication that brings together scholars, educators and others who work within this area of concentration. JPAS began in 1987. Volume 4 number 6 is a special issue on African dance. My article is entitled “The Saga of African Dance and Black Studies Departments.”

The article traces African dance from the 'hub' of cities with large Black populations, namely New York City, to the continent of Africa where I studied in the bush, Art Centers and campuses of Universities of Africa. It reveals how I, always mesmerized by rhythm wrote my first drum sounds, when I was a teenager in high school, after a remark from a stenography teacher who said 'any sound could be written with the Pitman shorthand system'. I pondered the statement and questioned if any sound could be written, why not write drum sounds. With that I picked up my pencil and wrote  my first drum sounds.

The article explores how I aligned my system with Labanotation in an integrated score. It also points  out the dire need for a comprehensive textbook on African music and dance as any course in academia  that is not supported by a definitive textbook is not consider a viable course. As far as academia is concerned African music and dance is too young and disorganized to be viable courses. These courses  may be 42 years old in the U.S., and diaspora, but in Africa they are centuries old. Hopefully my textbook GREENOTATION: MANUSCRIPTS OF AFRICAN MUSIC AND DANCE will soon be published so African music and dance can take its rightful place in academia. 

I have had the pleasure of working with a number of the legends of Africa from the post-colonial cultural era. These people were the founding members of African music and dance as we know  and perform it today.It was not easy introducing my work to Africans because I am female and many felt that females should dance and not drum. But African dance is always accompanied by music. It is the music that controls the dance. If one does not understand the music, it makes it difficult to dance on time and interpret what the musicians indicate. When I did break through, they were astonished indicating that my work was what Africans had been seeking for decades. 

My autobiography No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation was published in 2010. It tells the history of my voyage from Brooklyn to Africa, but my textbook defines and gives structure to the oral traditions of African music and dance, from Tanzania to Senegal  that is unparalleled.

My work essentially gives African music the scientific basis if formerly lacked and provides perpetuity to the field. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Article about Ray Cook

Article about Ray Cook
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 4, 2011

Here is an interesting article about Ray Cook: 

"The Language of Dance, Examined", by Dana Gavin (Hudson Valley News, December 22-28, 2010, pp10-11.)

The article includes terrific photos of Laban and Labanotation.

Unfortunately, the link above is a little hard to navigate and view, at least on my computer. You need to go to the site, then click on the picture of the newspaper, then click on the thumbnail at the bottom for pages 10-11. To enlarge the view see the icons at the top of the page.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Topics and Links: ICKL Proceedings Theoretical Reports and Papers, 1959 to 2009

Originally submitted by Charlotte Wile - September 6, 2011; updated May 22, 2012 

Facsimiles prepared by Rachael Leyva, Mei-Chen Lu, and Charlotte Wile

One of the most important institutions for promoting the development and standardization of Laban-based notation systems is the International Council of Kinetography Laban/Labanotation (ICKL).

Below are links to facsimiles of theoretical material in the proceedings for ICKL’s biennial conferences from 1959 to 2009. There is also a facsimile of an index for the 1963 to 1991 proceedings, which ICKL published in 1993.

The facsimiles of the theoretical material just contain each proceedings’ cover page, table of contents, technical reports, and technical papers. Application papers and other materials in the proceedings are not included here. The full proceedings are available at the Dance Notation Bureau library. In addition, some technical and non-technical papers in proceedings for recent conferences can be found on ICKL's website. 

When you go to each facsimile link below, you will see small navigation pages to the right. Because some parts of the proceedings were skipped when they were scanned, the page numbers on the navigation pages may not match page numbers on the facsimile. Also, some facsimile pages are crooked because the way the proceedings were bound made it difficult for them to be scanned.

1959-1977, First to Tenth Conferences  

The facsimiles of the 1959-1977 proceedings were taken from a compilation of conference papers and reports published together as one book in 1996. As has been done for other years, just the technical materials from the compilation are presented here. The year that the material was presented appears in the headings of the papers. Topics for each year are given below. 
  • Topics for the First Conference (1959): Differences in Movement Analysis and Notation (The Trunk and its Parts, Writing Shifts, Trunk Rotations and Front, Jumps or No Jumps - Pause Sign, Step and Leg Gesture, Whole Body Rotation). 
  • Topics for the Second Conference (1961): Unification (Centre of Gravity, Symbols for Chest and Trunk Movement, Inclusion Bow, Upper Part of Body Movement, Movements of the Whole Torso, Vertical Bow Cancellations, Automatic Space or Body Hold, Waist Sign Use of [Contraction and Extension Signs], Flexing and Stretching the Hand and Arm, Hands and Fingers, ["x"] with Direction Symbol, Use of the Body Constant and Space Constant References.
  • Topics for the Third Conference (1963): Unification (Validity of a Symbol, Use of the 3rd Column for Upper Part of the Body Movements, Level of Supports in Crouching and After Kneeling, 'Holding' the Centre of Gravity, Weight Distribution in Open Positions, Szentpal's Rule for Hold Sign in Support Column, Meaning of a Step in Place After an Open Position, Space Between Supports for Echappe Movements, Sliding Steps, Shuffling Hops, Overlap of Support Symbols - As in a Sissonne Ferme, Step Turn Problems, Whole Torso Turns and Trunk Twists, Use of [Black Diamond and Whole Body Signs], Pelvic Rotations and Pelvic Tilts, Meaning of [Extension Signs] for the Arms, Meaning of [Extension Signs ] for the Hand, Meaning of [Extension Signs] for the Whole Torso, Position Pins for the Arms, Tick Marks, Shading of Turn Signs, Touch Signs in the Leg Gesture and Support Columns.
  • Topics for the Fourth Conference (1965): Pelvic Movements; Centre of Gravity; Pause or Hold Sign; Dynamics; Position Signs Near Direction Signs (Szentpal); Guidances (Leeder); Guidances and 'Parasite' Symbols; Proposed Labanotation Changes (Venable); Space Measurement Signs, Floor Plans, Turn Signs; Knust's Handbook Changes; Review of Unification Discussions -1963 Conference. 
  • Topics for the Fifth Conference (1967): Agreements and Unification (Cross of Axes, Spirals, Paths, Corrections & Additions & Clarification on Knust's Paper, Parts of Body, etc., Upper Body/Inclusions, Guidance/Leading and the Addition Bow, Succession/Sequential Movement, Centre of Gravity, Spot Retention Sign, Space Measurement Signs, Repeat Signs/Analogy Signs, Rotations, Caret/Staple, Sign for "Either," Notation Examples, Front Signs with Specific Meaning by Maria Szentpal) 
  • Topics for the Sixth Conference (1969): Orthography and Analysis - Decisions and Recommendations (Rotations around Principal Axes by Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Work That is Not Concluded from the Research Committee by Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Motif Writing Developments by Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Meaning and Use of Pin Signs Within a Rotation Sign & Meaning and Use of Crosses of Axes Relating to Rotations by Albrecht Knust, The Standard Retention by Albrecht Knust, Questions of How We Read and Write Timing in Kinetography by Lucy Venable, Miscellaneous Problems by Maria Szentpal, Notation Examples, Suggestions About the Further Use of the Inner Subsidiary Column by Maria Szentpal, The Movement Family Tree by Ann Hutchinson, Indication of Difference Between Rotation and Twist by Ann Hutchinson, System of Reference for Head Tilts by Ann Hutchinson, Circular Paths on Vertical Planes by Albrecht Knust, Isolated Problems). 
  • Topics for the Seventh Conference (1971): Agreements and Recommendations (Body Narrowness and Wideness & Space Narrowness and Wideness by Albrecht Knust with Comments by Maria Szentpal, The Application of the Inner Subsidiary Column by Maria Szentpal, Suggested Indication for Time by Ann Hutchinson with Comments by Maria Szentpal, The Meaning of the "X" in the Support Column Near a Leg Gesture by Maria Szentpal, Facing Pins - Suggested Augmentation by Ann Hutchinson, Shorthand for Labanotation by Ann Hutchinson, Matters Arising Out of Other Sessions, Notation Examples). 
  • Topics for the Eighth Conference (1973): Agreements and Recommendations ("Normal" Distance in Standing by Maria Szentpal, Kneeling by Maria Szentpal,  Mixed Kneeling, Sitting by Maria Szentpal, Exclusion Bow, Symbol for Neither Stretched Nor Bent, Front Signs for Focal Point, Small Steps, Bent Leg Gestures, Supports Slightly Bent, Gestures and Supports, Slightly Bent, Leg Gestures Near the Floor, Small Steps, Leg Gestures Near the Floor, Slightly Bent Arm Gestures, Pins and Staples with Steps, Deviations, Placement of Accents, Description in Terms of Icosahedron, Area Around a Directional Point, Rounded Bow to Connect Columns, All fours by Albrecht Knust, Notation Examples).
  • Topics for the Ninth Conference (1975): Technical Report (The Direction of the Progression and the Direction of the Path by Albrecht Knust, Track Pins by Ann Hutchinson and Maria Szentpal, Support on All Fours by Maria Szentpal, Split Body System (SpB), Direction from Body Part (DBP), Shape Writing by Ann Hutchinson, Use of Pins, Notation Examples). 
  • Topics for the Tenth Conference (1977): Report on Technical Matters (Decisions About and Clarifications of Signs & Examples and Their Meanings - the 282 Item List, Deferred Items, Priority Items for 1979 Conference). 
1979, Eleventh Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (Pins for Positions of the Feet, Track Pins, Pins for Minor Movements, Place, Design Drawing, Validity). 
1981, Twelfth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report; Corrections and Additions for Unification Paper; Revised Validity Paper; Time Signs by Maria Szentpal; Clarification of the Different Possibilities of Accelerando and Ritardando When Applied to Movement; Musical Time Signs by Maria Szentpal; Writing Levels of Kneeling by Means of Angling or Approaching the Surface of Support in Different Directions by IleneFox and Jane Marriett; Direction from Body Part (DBP) by Maria Szentpal; Notation and the Dynamic Aspects of Dance by Sally Archbutt; Introduction to Dynamics Panel by Lucy Venable; Notes on Dynamic by Lisa Ullman; Dynamics Discussion by Sally Archbutt; Quality and Dynamics in the Laban Movement Analysis and Notation System by Janis Pforsich with Peggy Hackney;  Dynamic Discussion by Maria Szenpal; Statement on Dynamics for Panel Discussion by Muriel Topaz; Spatial Forms and Their Innate Dynamic Content by Lisa Ullman; Dynamics Exploration by Peggy Hackney with Janis Pforsich; Dynamics Summary by Lucy Venable; Report of the Principles Committee. 
1983, Thirteenth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (Placement of Non-Movement Indications, Placement of Foot Hooks, Angling, Kneeling Levels, Options for Writing Kneeling, Preferred Usage for Writing Non-foot Supports, Reference for the Whole Arm, Black Diamond, Sectional Repeat Indications, Need for New Symbology for Head and Its Parts, Minor Movement, Time Signs, Revised and Expanded System of Symbols for On and Off Stage\Areas, Principles, Moving in and Out of Open Positions, Retention of a Leading or Guiding Part, Repeat and Analogy Signs, Validity); Angling by Ilene Fox and Jane Marriett; Revised Version—A Proposal for New Symbols for the Head and its Parts by Carl Wolz; August Revision—A Proposal for a Revised and Expanded System of Symbols for On and Off Stage\Areas by Carl Wolz; Moving Into and Out of Open Positions by Ann Hutchinson;  Modified Version of Analogy and Repeat Signs by Ann Hutchinson; Working Ideas Based on Column Hierarchy by Janet Moekle. 
1985, Fourteenth Conference
  • Topics: The Principles and Basic Concepts of Laban's Movement; Report from the Research Panel (Measurement Signs, Normal Step Length, Direction from a Body Part, Peripheral Path for Third Degree Points, One Movement Bow, Polar Pins, Areas of the Hand and Foot, Modified Bow for Retained Part Leading/Guiding, Staff Extender, Indication of Intention, Validity of Part Leading/Guidance Bow, Ad lib, Staples and Carets, Line of Balance, Dynamics, Use of X and [Folding Sign] as Pre-Signs,The Sign [for Stillness], Paths for Gestures,Validity, Retention Signs, Time Signs, Unfinished Business); Errata, Supplements and Comments to Papers Disseminated Prior to the Conference; Edited Version of DBF Paper, 1981, by Maria Szentpal; Polar Pins for Minor Movements, revised 1985, by Ann Hutchinson, Jane Marriett, Ilene Fox; Areas of the Hand and Feet, revised 1985, by Sheila Marion; Index of Items Fully Accepted 1985; Index of Other Items. 
1987, Fifteenth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (Sign to Replace the Staple for the Same Spot, Signs for Spreading and Closing, Surfaces of the Hand and Foot, Finger Fan, The Drawing of en Croix Repeats, Inner Subsidiary Column, Place Middle Pin, Symbols for Contraction Over a Diagonal Surface, Spot Hold for the Foot, Unfolding, Signs for Joints of the Legs, Validity of the Leading/Guiding Bow, Symbols for "A Surface," Clarification of Usage of [Release Signs] in the Support Column, Validity, Direction from a Body Part (DBP) for Gestures, New Symbol for Release Weight, The "Zed-Caret" and its Augmented Usage, Simultaneous Contraction and Rotation, Discussion of the Spine Sign, Errata and Supplements to Papers Disseminated Prior to the Conference); Validity- Yet Another Proposal by Ilene Fox; Vertical Bows - Validity by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Leading/Guiding - Validity by Ann Hutchinson Guest; D. B. P. for Gestures by Ann Hutchinson Guest; A Proposal for the Use of the Caret (< or >) Which Involves the Elimination of the Staple by Lucy Venable; Carets and Staples by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Index of Technical Papers Circulated Prior to the 1987 Conference; Index of Items Fully Accepted by ICKL, 1987, Index of Other Items. 
1989, Sixteenth Conference
  • Topics: Report from the Research Panel (Modifiers, Symbols That Have Their Own Validity, Validity of Horizontal Bows, Zed Caret, Floorwork Staff, Signs for Sex of Performer, Group Formations, Meeting Line, Mini-Floor Plans, Relationship of Two People, Action Stroke, Pre-Staff Indications, Intermediate Directions, Standard Palm Facing, Anatomical Descriptions of the Spinal Column and Hip Joint Movement, Focal Point, Stylized Preparation for a Step, Natural, Floor Plans, Use of [a Vertical Line] with Measurement Signs in the Leg Gesture Column for "Duration" or "Air Line," Reconstructing KIN/LN Grammar by Rob van Haarst, Keys for Thought by Sheila Marion, Retention of Supports by Bill Reynolds, Validity by Ilene Fox); Errata for 1989 Papers; Addendum to Anatomical Descriptions by Karen Barracuda, KL/LN for Recording Idiokinetic Exercises-Clarification by Karen Barracuda.
1991, Seventeenth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Sessions Address by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Report from the Research Panel (Time Signs,Validity, Floorwork, Kneeling, Minor Movements); Time Signs by Ann Hutchinson Guest. 
1993, Eighteenth Conference
  • Topics: Report from the Research Panel (Summary of Voting, The Direction System of Labanotation/Kinetography Laban – A Clarification and Proposal by Janos Fugedi, Retention of Palm Facings in Labanotation by Ilene Fox, The Duration of an Indication Tied to a Path Sign -Validity of the Connecting Bow by Jacqueline Challet-Haas, Vertical Bows by Marion Bastien, Validity No. 3 Proposal by Ann Hutchinson Guest, A Validity Proposal for Gestural Actions by Sheila Marion and Judy Van Zile and Lucy Venable, Summary of Validity Discussions, Space Measurement Signs Versus Measurement Signs by Jacqueline Challet-Haas, Retention in the Support Column-Proposed New Rule); Errata to 1993 ICKL Papers; The Direction System of Labanotation/Kinetography Laban – A Clarification and Proposal by Janos Fugedi.
1993, Index for the 1963 to 1991 Proceedings
  • Topics: Technical Papers Presented from 1963 to1991; Technical Decisions from 1979 to 1991; Non-technical Papers Presented from 1979-1991; Bow Chronology; New Signs. 
1995, Nineteenth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (Proposal for Labanotation, The Standard Cross of Axes in Kinetography Laban and Introduction to Validity Papers - 1995 Validity Proposals, Interaction of Movement Categories, Report of Findings on Usages of [The Back to Normal Sign and the Decrease Sign] by Lucy Venable and Sheila Marion, What is Movement? And other Validity Issues by Ilene Fox, The Assessment of Distance in Supports in Kintography Laban/ Labanotation by Christine Eckerle, The Notation of Floorwork within the Laban System of Notation by Anja Hirvikalli). 
1997, Twentieth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (Inverted Pelvis Sign, One Sided Spreading and Closing, Spreading and Closing from the Front and Back and Right and Left Sides and its Use with Direction Symbols, The 8/8 Scale for Contraction and Folding, The Centre of Gravity Level, Parts of the Torso, Weight Distribution, Folding, Props, An Analysis and Classification of Springs); Minor Topics, by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Folding - Analysis of Movement, by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Props, by Carl Wolz; An Analysis and Classification of Springs, by Janos Fugedi. 
1999, Twenty-First Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report; Principal "KIN" Usages and Rules differing from "LAB" Usages and Rules, by Jacqueline Challet-Haas; A Fundamental Difference Between Kinetography Laban and Labanotation by Ilene Fox; Degrees of Folding the Torso by Ann Hutchinson Guest. 
2001, Twenty-Second Conference
(Note: This document contains page numbers on the papers that do not match the page numbers given in the table of contents.)
  • Topics: Technical Report; To Caret of Not To Caret, That is the Question by Sandra Aberkalns and Ilene Fox; Readings in Kinetography Laban – KIN Usage Relating to Column Consistency, Floorwork, Pins, and Indications for the Hand and its Parts by Jacqueline Challet-Haas. Christine Eckerle, and Anja Hirvikallio; Indications for Freedom of Interpretation by Ray Cook; Space Measurement–New Signs by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Movement Signs Across Contexts by Sheila Marion. 
2004, Twenty-Third Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (A New Sign for the Body-as-a-Whole by Ann Hutchinson Guest, A Generic Indication for Revolving on a Straight Path by Ann Hutchinson Guest, An Indication for the Motion of Flexing and Extending by Ann Hutchinson Guest, Space Measurement Specified by Ann Hutchinson Guest, Use of the Body Columns by Ann Hutchinson Guest). 
2005, Twenty-Fourth Conference
  • Topics: Report from the Research Panel (Step Gesture Analysis, Workshop on "Upper Body Movement Analysis" by Noelle Simonet,  Ad Lib and Freedom of Interpretation by Karin Hermes); Interpreting Timing Conventions in Labanotation by Ilene Fox and Rhonda Ryman; Upper Body Movement Analysis by Noelle Simonet; Ad Lib and Freedom of Interpretation by Karin Hermes; A Proposal for New Symbols for the Head and its Parts by Carl Wolz.
2007, Twenty-Fifth Conference
  • Topics: Technical Report (A Simplified Use of Consecutive Foot Hooks by Janos Fugedi, Unit Timing of Touching Gestures by Janos Fugedi); A Simplified Use of Consecutive Foot Hooks by Janos Fugedi; Traveling Arial Turns Arriving on Both Legs by Janos Fugedi; Notation of Leg Circles by Janos Fugedi; Unit Timing of Touching Gestures by Janos Fugedi.
  • Topics: Technical Report (Distance of Leg Gestures from the Floor by Ann Hutchinson Guest, Revolving on a Straight Path by Ann Hutchinson Guest, Indications of Touching Gestures by Janos Fugedi and Misi Gabor, Unit Timing - Further Thoughts by Ann Hutchinson Guest); Distance of Leg Gestures from the Floor by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Revolving on a Straight Path by Ann Hutchinson Guest; Indications of Touching Gestures by Janos Fugedi and Misi Gabor; Unit Timing - Further Thoughts by Ann Hutchinson Guest.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Resources and Riches: Dance Notation Bureau

Resources and Riches: Dance Notation Bureau
Submitted by Mei-Chen Lu - August 31, 2011

This is a post print of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and the Related Arts © 2009 Taylor & Francis; Dance Chronicle is available online at:


Because this article was published in 2009, there are a number of changes took effect afterward–

The theory meeting minutes are available to view at

Now the Notated Theatrical Dances Catalog is available online at

For staging inquires, please contact Alice Helpern at

by Mei-Chen Lu

The Dance Notation Bureau (DNB), founded in 1940, occupies a series of rooms with staff working on different projects and activities in a high-rise office building near the Wall Street financial district in New York City.  With a name ending in “Bureau,” people always imagine that there are hundreds of workers.  The size of the DNB is actually small: there are nine staff members with several volunteers and interns handling the staging contracts, dance notation projects, educational programs, library loans, and grant applications.  The DNB is the only organization in the United States dedicated to the promotion, preservation, documentation, and study of human movement and dance through a symbol system called Labanotation, named after its inventor, Hungarian dancer and theorist, Rudolf Laban (1879-1958). 

Labanotation scores function for dance in the same way as music scores do for music.  Typically, the Labanotation score of a dance composition is created by the time the work is staged on a company that is not familiar with the dance.  It contains the analysis of movements, floor patterns, and information about motivations and nuances that are transmitted as the work is being refined by the choreographer or stager.  The score is laid out in measures on a staff corresponding to the music measures.  These detailed scores give permanency to a work by allowing the dance to be performed or studied long after the lifetime of the artist who created that work. 

Dance Notation Bureau History

During the 1920s and 1930s, Laban's system for notating movement was introduced in the United States by Irma Otte-Betz and Irmgard Bartenieff.  At that time, the recording of dance held little interest for most choreographers, teachers, or dancers, but the teaching, lecturing and writing of these two enthusiastic individuals created the opportunity for the system to become known and used.  Their co-authored book, Elementary Studies in Laban's Dance Script, which they themselves published in 1937, was the first that contained reading materials in Laban's notation.  Four other women—Ann Hutchinson (afterward, Ann Hutchinson Guest), Helen Priest, Eve Gentry (then known as Henrietta Greenhood) and Janey Price—all of whom had studied Labanotation with different masters in Europe and the United States, soon joined those advocating dance notation.  On May 15, 1940 these four met to exchange their knowledge of notation and discuss differences in usage, which had not yet been addressed in the United States.  This meeting was also attended by two other influential people:  Hanya Holm, choreographer and pupil of Laban's famous student, Mary Wigman, and John Martin, dance critic of the New York Times and notation advocate.  Martin encouraged them to form a center, suggesting the name Dance Notation Bureau, with the purpose of standardizing Laban's system, and Holm offered her dance school as the DNB’s first official mailing address.  Both of them served as advisors for the DNB. 

The DNB started without members and formalities.  Each founder contributed ten dollars to begin the new organization.  All volunteered to work toward the goal of standardizing Laban's notation system.  To guide the Bureau's activities, seven aims were identified:
  1. to act as a clearing house, research, and work center,
  2. to standardize the Laban notation (as it was then called),
  3. to teach dance notation,
  4. to issue diplomas to those qualified to teach and to notate,
  5. to record dances and ballets,
  6. to form a library of dance works, and
  7. to perpetuate dance through the use of notation.
Two years later, Eugene Loring commissioned the DNB to notate his ballet, Billy the Kid, in order to establish his ownership of the choreography.  Hutchinson, with the assistance of Priest and Anne Wilson, who was a member of Loring's company and later became a board member of the DNB, notated the work.  This was the first ballet to be recorded in the United States using Laban's notation system.  

Through the dedication of the Bureau’s founders, the dance world slowly started accepting dance notation.  In 1948, George Balanchine, who had a strong interest in notating his own choreography, contacted Hutchinson to study notation.  This request resulted in the DNB notating his ballets as they were set on the Ballet Society, predecessor to the New York City Ballet.  At that time, the dance scores were only regarded as records and the works were still staged from memory, as a teacher or dancer worked with another dancer.  It was not until much later that notation proved its real value for choreographers or stagers to mount a dance directly from a notation score.  In 1958, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in New York City staged Balanchine's Symphony in C from the Labanotation score.  This was the first of many stagings from scores in both ballet and modern dance.

Renowned modern dance choreographer Doris Humphrey was also convinced of the value of notation.  She had created her own system for recording dance but was not able to fully develop it.  When introduced to Labanotation, she became a supporter.  Her dance, the Shakers, was notated in 1948 by Hutchinson and Els Grelinger in Humphrey’s repertory class in New York City.  In the following years, many of her works, including Variations and Conclusion from New Dance, Partita V, Desert Gods from Song of the West, Soaring, Water Study, With My Red Fires, and Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, were also notated in her repertory classes at Dance Players Studio, the Juilliard School, and the Connecticut College Summer School of Dance.  Ritmo Jondo, Day on Earth, and Night Spell, which Humphrey created for the José Limón Company, were documented in Labanotation when she served as choreographer and artistic director of Limón’s company.  Today, the total number of performances of Humphrey’s choreography staged from Labanotation scores has exceeded sixteen hundred.

In 1950, Hanya Holm’s Kiss Me Kate in Labanotation form achieved a milestone when it secured copyright for the choreographer under the dramatic-musical composition category (choreographic classification did not exist at this time).  By means of a Labanotated score, choreographers had finally gained the right of protection of their creations because such scores, like videotapes and DVDs, represent an ephemeral art form in the tangible format required by the United States Copyright Office.

After its efforts at standardizing the notation system and its success in creating notated dance scores, the DNB was able, in 1952, to fulfill another of its seven goals—that of forming a library.  In 1968, Lucy Venable, then the DNB president, accepted a teaching position at the Ohio State University (OSU).  Venable, with dance department chair Helen P. Alkire, formed the DNB Extension for Education and Research within the OSU Department of Dance.  Due to then unstable finances at the DNB, which relied on support from intermittent government grants and private foundations to maintain notation projects and other activities, Venable brought to OSU the original DNB scores where, it was thought, the materials would be more safely housed.  OSU made two photocopies of the original scores: one copy remains at the DNB and the other is in the New York Public Library.  Since 1969, newly acquired original manuscripts have been stored in the DNB Library in New York City, now occupying a space that is approximately 400 square feet.

In the 1970s, the DNB created the Dance Notation Bureau Press to publish notation scores and books.  Doris Humphrey: The Collected Works (notated by Hutchinson, Grelinger, Odette Blum, Muriel Topaz, and Jane Marriet) was the first of a series of notated dances that was made available for purchase by the artist’s consent.  Over the course of thirty years, a number of textbooks for Labanotation and Movement Analysis were issued: Elementary Labanotation: A Study Guide (Topaz), Study Guide for Intermediate Labanotation (Marriet and Topaz), Elementary and Intermediate Reading Studies (Elementary: Topaz; Intermediate: Peggy Hackney, Sarah Manno, and Topaz), Readings in Modern Dance (vol. 1: Jane Edelson, et al.; vol. 2: Michele Varon), Space Harmony (Cecily Dell, Aileen Crow, and Bartenieff), Methods of Perceiving Patterns of Small Group Behavior (Martha Davis), Primer for Movement Description Using Effort-Shape (Dell), and many others.  These books are available for purchase through the Dance Horizons website,

In the 1970s and 1980s, the concept of a notation score was expanded from a simple score of recorded choreography to a complete package including dance production information.  Ann Hutchinson Guest recalled that Herbert Kummel, the first executive director of the DNB, commented that the dance score was incomplete.  He pointed out that music, costume, lighting, sets, props, movement style, casting, and other information, which assisted a stager to realize the dance on stage, needed to be carefully documented as well.  The majority of scores now include the production information in the score's introduction.  Materials that do not fit in the score's introduction are assembled separately as a supplementary package, accompanying the Labanotation score when it is staged.

From 1970 to 1989, a total of 400 scores were submitted to the DNB Library.  The works of Gerald Arpino, Balanchine, Laura Dean, Bill T. Jones, Kurt Jooss, Bob Fosse, Hanya Holm, José Limón, Donald McKayle, Agnes de Mille, Alwin Nikolais, David Parsons, Moses Pendleton, Anna Solokow, Antony Tudor, and others were notated through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with private foundations.

The DNB continues to act as the center of theory development in Labanotation.  Since the 1980s, the DNB has regularly hosted theory meetings for notation professionals to discuss developments in the use of the symbols.  The minutes for these meetings are posted on the DNB's website:  In 1999, the Dance Heritage Coalition included the DNB in its America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: the First 100.  The DNB has also begun to focus on new choreographers, adding the works of Robert Battle, Peter Quanz, and others to its collections.

DNB Library

The DNB Library was established in 1952.  Lucy Venable, then a part-time DNB staff member and a professional dancer with the José Limón Dance Company, volunteered to organize, manage, and catalogue two file drawers of Labanotation scores and other notations with advice from Genevieve Oswald, then curator of the Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  The DNB Library now maintains the world’s most substantial collection of dance and movement notation, including folk and nonwestern dance scores, information on current and historical notation systems, technique studies, educational materials, examples of notating sports, and studies of animal movement patterns.  The backbone of the library is its unique collection of over 760 Labanotation scores of notated theatrical dances.  They represent more than 210 choreographers, among them Alvin Ailey, Balanchine, Battle, Agnes De Mille, William Forsythe, Martha Graham, Humphrey, Lin Hwai-min, Mark Morris, Jerome Robbins, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Anna Sokolow, and Tudor.  In addition to the Labanotation scores, the DNB Library collects supplementary information, including marked music scores, costume patterns, fabric swatches, light plots and cue sheets, prop and set information, newspaper clippings, programs, photographs, correspondence, rehearsal or performance videos, and music cassettes and CDs.  Each year, the library adds to its comprehensive collection five to ten new scores produced by staff or contracted notators and acquired through donations.  Through this rich collection, the Bureau assists twenty to thirty stagings from Labanotation score yearly, and lends approximately 200 dance scores and their supplementary materials for educational and research purposes.

The Library is divided into three categories:  the Marjorie Isaac Archive, the Research Collection and the Maria Grandy Circulating Collection.  The Marjorie Isaac Archive, occupying sixty-five cubic feet, is a manuscript repository of over 760 original Labanotation scores, along with subsequent notation and choreographic revisions and editions.  Original manuscripts, together with handwritten pencil scores and computer-generated LabanWriter scores, are inventoried and stored in acid-free folders and boxes.

The DNB Library has an ongoing cooperative effort with the NYPL and Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at OSU to microfilm original Labanotation scores.  The microfilm negative is stored in the NYPL vault.  The NYPL and OSU each keep one positive copy of the microfilm.

The Research Collection, along with the Marjorie Isaac Archive, is the heart of the DNB Library.  Materials in the Research Collection are available, sometimes requiring permission from artists or their representatives, to researchers, stagers and students.  The Research Collection has several components, the largest being the Master File (ninety cubic feet).  This contains a copy of the original Labanotation score photocopied onto acid-free paper, which is the master preservation copy.  It also contains materials that supplement the notated score: a marked music score, costume sketches and/or fabric swatches, light plots, set information, programs, newspaper clippings, photographs and correspondence, which would not fit in the introduction of the score.  Only the production information is assembled as a package and lent to stagers.  The rest of the materials may be accessed, with supervision, at the DNB library.  The primary source of the Labanotation score together with the above-mentioned supplementary materials provides vital information about a particular dance to stagers, researchers, and students that can be found only at the DNB Library.

The Research Collection also includes audiovisual materials that supplement the Labanotation score.  Examples are reel to reel tapes (ten cubic feet), LP vinyl records (two cubic feet), audio cassettes (twelve cubic feet), music CDs (seven cubic feet), videotapes (forty cubic feet), and DVDs (five cubic feet). 

In addition, there are other components in this collection, including the Richard Holden Collection of dances in Benesh Movement Notation (four cubic feet), the Publications Archive of the DNB journals, newsletters and bulletins (nine cubic feet), the photography collection (two cubic feet), as well as the Research Files on different notation usages and other notation systems (four cubic feet).

The Maria Grandy Circulating Collection is named after a former DNB board chair who was also the first ballet mistress* to learn Labanotation.  She staged many works from scores and trained dancers with the aid of notation.  The main component of the circulating collection is notated theatrical dances, which consist of photocopies of the Labanotation score (1000 items) and materials related to the score, such as music scores (500 items), music CDs (150 items), videotapes (250 items), DVDs (175 items), and other supplementary materials (50 items) designed to enhance the user's understanding of the dance.  The circulating scores may have certain restrictions set by the choreographers or their estate.  According to their wishes, the score may be made available for study, research, or staging.  The DNB often serves as a liaison between the choreographer (or estate) and those who wish to use the score.

Currently, the catalog of notated theatrical dances is available for download on the DNB's website  The DNB has been working to make the catalog of the dance scores searchable online for stagers, researchers, students, teachers and DNB members.

The library also circulates dance notation books, including Labanotation texts in foreign languages, books on other notation systems, and assorted dances published in various notation systems.  In addition, it has a sizable collection of curriculum materials, such as theory examples, repertory excerpts, sample course outlines, and visual aids.  The Technique Research File includes information on advanced theory topics as well as recent developments in the Labanotation system adopted by the International Council of Kinetography Laban, an organization formed in 1959 to assure the consistency and continued development of the Labanotation system.  The World Dance Collection has dances from Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, and South America.  Scores range from one to one hundred pages in length. 

The DNB Library is staffed by a full-time librarian and is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm by appointment. Evening and weekend appointments may be arranged under special circumstances.  The library is open year round with the exception of major holidays.  Research questions about notation, specific choreographers, or dances can be submitted to Mei-Chen Lu, Director of Library Services, by telephone (212-571-7011) or email ( Staging inquiries can be sent to Kristin Jackson, Director of Programs, at

* Grandy danced primarily with the Robert Joffrey Theater Ballet, and she staged works from Labanotation scores for companies throughout the world.  See her obituary by Jack Anderson, “Maria Grandy, 61, Ballet Coach And Head of Notation Bureau.“  New York Times, April 1, 1998.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Knust Collection

Knust Collection
Submitted by Charlotte Wile – August 24, 2011

As part of a recent LabanTalk thread about online notation resources, Marion Bastien wrote about the “Collection Knust.” This wonderful treasure trove contains 204 short scores written or collected by Albrecht Knust in various styles (folk dances, ballet, modern dance, and choral dances, etc.). The scores are available on the website of the Centre National de la Danse. The web site is in French.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jeffrey Scott Longstaff’s Web Site

Jeffrey Scott Longstaff’s Web Site
Submitted by Charlotte Wile - August 11, 2011

Everyone interested in Laban-based concepts and applications should take a look at Jeffrey Scott Longstaff’s website, which contains numerous informative and thought provoking publications.

For example, a recent addition is Longstaff, J. S. (2011), Rudolf Laban's (1926) Choreographie - Origins of a Conception of Body-Space, which includes an English translation of Choreographie by Evamaria Zierach and Jeffrey Scott Longstaff.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vitalizing Dance Legacy Through the Use of Labanotation as a Staging Tool

Vitalizing Dance Legacy Through the Use of Labanotation as a Staging Tool
Submitted by Mei-Chen Lu – July 23, 2011

Elizabeth McPherson, Assistant Professor at Montclair State University, wrote an article about the process of staging Helen Tamiris's Negro Spirituals and Donald McKayle's Games from Labanotation scores and the benefit of using the scores as a tool.  Her article is published in Journal of Dance Education, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2011. © 2011 Taylor & Francis (Journal of Dance Education is available online at:

In her abstract, she stated: 

In the 21st century, carrying dance legacy forward and exploring it to provide depth and understanding of the continuum of dance helps ensure that our current and future practice has a scaffold on which to grow and thrive. This article begins by exploring the importance of staging dances from the past to keep dance legacy alive as well as the unique benefits of employing Labanotation as a tool. This discussion is followed by a description of the process of staging a dance from Labanotation from the director's perspective with the specific examples of the author's stagings of Donald McKayle's Games (1951) and Helen Tamiris's Negro Spirituals (1928–1942) at Montclair State University.

To view the full article, please go here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

János Fügedi’s Comments on the February 9, 2011 Theory Meeting Minutes (Response to Billie Mahoney)

Submitted by János Fügedi - June 9, 2011

Some Remarks to Billie Mahoney’s e-mailed comments [posted in the February 9, 2011 minutes] on the November 2010 minutes titled
“To the DNB Theory Discussions. (written last week, Feb 1-6, 2011)”

1.  First of all I have to thank Billie her comments, especially because her analysis and notations enlightened for me that the tap “brush” should NOT be regarded a transient touch. I will discuss this approach in detail later.

2.   I also owe thank to her for calling my attention to Lucy Venable’s paper (with examples by P. Heale and B. Mahoney) discussed at the 1969 ICKL (see Conference Proceedings 1959-1977, ICKL 1969, 13). Unfortunately the examples, which could be relevant from the point of the present discussion (17-21), are missing from the cited edition of ICKL Proceedings.

3.  I will refer to certain sentences of Billie Mahoney’s comments by paragraph numbers - even if such numbers are missing from the document - like this: BM, page 1. par. 4., and notation examples as e.g. BM Ex.3d.

4.   BM, page 1. par. 4.: “Jańos’ paper to change transit contacts to accommodate his beginning students”
I have never mentioned beginning students, especially not in connection with “transit contact”. (Nota bene: the movement Billie is referring to is called “transient touch”, see Hutchinson Guest Labanotation 2005, 183. In the following I will use Hutchinson Guest’s term, even if Billie keep on calling it “transit contact”.) Quite the contrary, I reasoned for system simplification because (almost) all the advanced students made mistakes when they had to follow the convention of exact timing to notate touching gestures.

5.  BM, page 1. par. 4.: “His supposed knowledge of tap dance from watching an internet video is not acceptable!”
I have neither supposed nor any other (e.g. definite) knowledge of tap dance beyond I just like watching it as a spectacular and virtuoso dance form. I showed and analyzed some sections of tap recordings in Mexico, which I found on the net to illustrate tap “brush”. The source was indicated on the slides of my presentation. Gianin Loringett, French dancer, choreographer, dance teacher was dancing, who is a professor of jazz dance at the Centre OFFJAZZ in Nice, also professor of the Conservatoire national e Région de Nice (source of information:
When Billie saw his dancing in my presentation in Mexico, she stated that the clips were sloppy tap performances. I can’t judge it, Billie is the expert. Anyone can watch and form an opinion; the lessons still can be seen here: - under the title “Get into the tap!”
After some search on the net I used these examples because I could download them free. Other sites I found with tap dance content needed money transfer for downloads. I’d be happy if anyone (e.g. Billie) could offer visual representation of tap “brush” to analyze.

6.  BM, page 4. par. 8 and BM, page 7. Ex.3 and 4: Let me call your attention to a terming difficulty. Billie stated on page 4, that “All examples are written in ‘unit’ timing”, while the writing method of BM Ex. 3c, 3d follows Knust’s convention (first published in his Abriss 1956, 60): the hooks are placed where (when) the contacts really happen, that is these indications represent specific (exact) timings. We have to know from agreement that while specific timing is used for the hook, unit timing is used for the direction sign, the two together are meant to indicate a movement (a “brush”) regarded as a transient touch. In Ex.3e, Ex.3f, and Ex.4 the hooks appear at the end of the direction symbols. Now we have to know from agreement that this placement intends to indicate terminating touch and – here really – unit timing is used.

7.  The conflict of simultaneous use of the two notation concepts is more obvious in Hutchinson Guest’s Ex. 292a (Hutchinson Guest Labanotation 2005, 183). The right leg must be moved from its side low starting direction to reach the ground on beat 1 prior the beat, but notation of the direction symbol starts on the beat, therefore the method used is unit timing. However the transient contact must happen on the beat, which is represented by the hook in specific (exact) timing. Understanding the intended movement content certainly needs special convention.

8.  Timing of direction and contact signs is a difficult problem of Labanotation, heavily conventiona­lized in other notation situations as well, not just in the one mentioned above. When we, Gábor Misi and I discovered this fact, we started to investigate the problem of indicating touching gestures. During our work I had to realize sadly that my paper presented in Mexico was rather a brave than a really established sortie in this field. So we compiled a paper which Gábor presented at the 2009 ICKL conference in Bangkok, and a revised version of his presentation was completed for the 2009 ICKL Proceedings. Since the proceedings should have been printed by now, but has not been yet, we made a PDF version of the paper which is enclosed here.

9.  The complexity of the problem forced me to reconsider my former, 2009 findings. The enclosed paper doesn’t give any solution, only summarizes the types of floor contact with the foot, compares usages, points out difficulties, calls attention to certain advantages or disadvantages. It is not an easy reading, perhaps even advanced notation practitioners need to focus as well to follow its line. From the point of view of the present arguing, let me call your attention to some of the main points:

10. Entry 5: The present understanding of indicating touching gestures stems from Albrecht Knust (see his Abriss 1956, 60). He introduced his rule of giving timing significance to the place of a hook on a direction sign in 1963 to ICKL, where it was recognized as “useful and comprehensive” (Conference Proceedings 1959-1977, ICKL 1963, 24).

11. Entry 10: After comparing exact timing, unit timing, and what I proposed in Mexico, we came to the conclusion, that none of them is capable to meet the three visual requirements raised in Entry 6, 7 and 8, which can be expected from the positions of foot hooks and direction signs compared to the musical order or to each other to indicate touching gestures.

12. Entry 19: Here we accepted the requirement for a transient touch – as a movement intention, just as the Minutes February 9, 2011 stated. (If we have a closer look Ann’s transient touch presentation on the embedded YouTube video, we can find that the first performance showed two opposite movements. Direction opposition separates movements. If at the end of one the touch is terminating, no matter how fast we move away from the point of contact, that contact would not be transient. In the second performance Ann made a ritardando-accelerando pair – a performance method similar to separating two consecutive non-legato movements. Worded another way, she left a possibility open for those, who rather avoid transient touch indication and prefer indicating it as a separate action.)

13. Entry 20: We questioned whether it is worth reserving a simple and easily understandable notation indication for transient touches. We stated that the transient touch is an “uncommon and almost unperformable movement phenomenon”. I still think so.

14. Entry 48: In our concluding paragraph we wrote, that “A special research is also needed to discover the difference between the execution and mental perception of movements”. We meant the timing difference, of course. This was the subject of a survey with dance student made during the last months, and which I will present at the next ICKL conference in Budapest. In this survey I was searching the reason of the already mentioned constant mistakes in notating touching gestures. The research hypothesis is, that not the physical process, but the result of movement gets conscious attention, of which a consequence is, that movement rhythm is represented in our mind as if it was “mind-notated” in unit timing.

15. Now let me investigate Billie’s notation as an outsider, whose field is analyzing traditional way of European dancing (though as far as I know tap dance is rooted in and originated from Irish tradition and Juba, see e.g. Hill’s Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History, 2010).

16. In BM Ex.3b. Billie states the tap is a result of a dynamic folding of the ankle (and, of course, of some lowering of the leg, because at the indicated level the toe would not reach the floor). Both the forward folding and the contact are cancelled right after their first appearance to withdraw their validity.

17. (A side note: as I learnt from Mária Szentpál, the cancellation of a dynamic contact is unnecessary, since in most dance practices the rebound – as a result of the hit – is automatic, especially in traditional dancing. I think it is the same in tap as well. Billie can tell us, is or is not a usual practice a kept contact in tap after a dynamic touch. We in Hungary indicate the rare case of the contact-keeping hit with a body hold above the hook.)

18. In BM Ex.3d we can see the same notation for the dynamic contact with the toe, with the same ankle folding-unfolding. The only difference between the two examples is, that the leg was moving place low (back, below the ankle), from its forward low position.

19. Notation of BM Ex.3d clearly states, that two movement concepts (a tap and a leg gesture), which might be performed separately as well, are performed at the same time, more accurately stated, the two movements are in superimposition.

20. Conclusively, BM Ex.3d, the “brush” – and let’s forget about the name implying sliding – has nothing to do with the concept of the transient touch, even if it may look so. With this approach it is all the same, how much the toe is sliding (sloppy) or how fast the tap is (brilliant), the point is the exact rhythm of the sound and the performing the direction with the leg.

21. Superimposition of movements is a favorite “tool” in traditional dance creation (and tap, again, can’t deny its roots in this respect either). I discovered the practice of movement super­imposition, when I realized that springs can be classified by three different, but not exclusive ways, since the concepts are frequently mixed (I published it as “Springs in Traditional Dance: An Analysis and Clarification. Studia Musicologica 1999, 159-188.” A former, less elaborated version was released in the 1997 ICKL Proceedings, 40-76.)

22. If we have a closer look at BM Ex. 3b, 3b’, 3d and 4d’, we can notice that the hook is not attached to the direction sign. Even this way of notation indicates clearly the two different movement concepts, the tap with the specific timing of the floor contact, and the direction into which the leg arrives (well, in practice slightly later than the contact is performed).

23. (I would like to avoid now the extremely difficult notation philosophical question of what a direction sign means in our system, because direction sign use definitely doesn’t follow the commonplace-close topos of “start of movement = start of direction sign, end of movement = end of direction sign”.)

24. Conclusively, Billie can’t lose any of the validity of her former notations, no matter how we conduct or conclude our research with Gábor. Quite the contrary, her usage of separating the hook from the direction sign to indicate exact timing for contact is a long desired possibility for me, but before proposing it, we really would like to investigate all the possible ways of notating touching gestures. And - as we stated at the end of our joint paper enclosed here – we do “not feel possessing the competence to solve the … tasks in all genres of dance. … Completeness in genre can be achieved only in cooperation with representatives of other genres of dance”.


Conference Proceedings 1959-1977, An ICKL Publication, 1996
Fügedi, János & Misi, Gábor: Ways of notating floor touching gestures with the foot. Unpublished manuscript.
Fügedi, János: Springs in Traditional Dance: An Analysis and Clarification. Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 40/1-3, 1999, 159-188.
Fügedi János: An Analysis and Classification of Springs. Proceedings of the Twentieth  Biennial Conference of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, August 9 – August 14, 1997, held at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, p.41-76.
Hill, Constance Valis. Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History, Oxford University Press, 2010
Hutchinson Guest, Ann: Labanotation. A System of Analyzing and Recording Movement. (Fourth edition) Routledge, New York and London, 2005
Knust, Albrecht: Abriss der Kinetographie Laban. Verlag Das Tanzarchiv, Hamburg, 1956