Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Labanotation, 4th Edition, Errata

Submitted by Mei-Chen Lu and Charlotte Wile - June 26, 2012

In July 2011 Lisa Marucci created a forum for the Language of Dance Centre web site. The forum gave notation practitioners a place to record corrections/comments about Labanotation (4th edition) by Ann Hutchinson Guest.

The material in that forum has been transferred to the Theory Bulletin Board. You can view it here.

Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, January 26, 2012

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - June 26, 2012

The videos and written summaries below document the Dance Notation Bureau Open Theory Meeting held on January 26, 2012.

Present: Ray Cook, Janos Fugedi,  Mei-Chen Lu,  Lynne Weber, and Charlotte Wile.

The meeting was conducted via Skype. Janos was in Hungary. Ray, Mei, Lynne, and Charlotte were in Lynne's apartment in New York City.

Topics Discussed at the Meeting:

#1 “Dancer’s Perception of Movement Rhythm” by Janos Fugedi and Laszlo Bernath

#2. Altitude  and Measurement Indications

“Dancer’s Perception of Movement Rhythm” was presented at the 2011 ICKL conference. The paper was discussed at the October 20, 2011 Open Theory Meeting. The conversation continued at this meeting.

Issues discussed at this meeting included the following:

1.1    Janos's conclusion on page 35: "The survey seems confirming the research hypothesis, that movement rhythm is represented in our mind as if it was 'mind notated' in unit timing"

1.2    Notating rhythm in different styles of dance. How do dancers in various dance styles relate to the music?

1.3    Terminology – “unit timing” vs. “exact timing.”

1.4    How rhythm looks visually on the page in the notation vs. how the dancer experiences it.

1.5    Reasons for using “unit timing” or “exact timing” in the notation. e.g.,
  • Which system is easier to read and write?
  • In Benish unit timing is always used. This affects their understanding of L/N.
  • Which system facilitates notating during various situations, such as live rehearsals, or when you already know the movement, or notating from film, etc?
  • Which system corresponds to the way people think when they are moving or observing movement?
1.6    What criteria should be used to decide what the default rules are for notating rhythm? E.g., they might be based on what is easiest to write, what is clearer visually on the page, what is most “natural” in our perception of movement, what suits a certain style of movement or culture, and so forth.

1.7    Mixing unit timing and exact timing.

1.8    Flexibility vs. rules in the system.

1.9    The various options and conventions for placement of hooks, and criteria that can be used for deciding which option works best in various situations.

1.10    Different definitions of the term “unit.” Does the term work for what it means in notation? What term might work better (e.g.,” rhythm timing”, as Janos introduced in his paper)? Likewise for the term “exact.”

1.11    What should be the criteria for what terms we use?

Videos 1-5 below show the discussion of topic #1. Janos is on the large screen. Charlotte, Mei, and Ray are on the small screen (from left to right). Lynne can be seen on the right side of the small screen starting about minute 11:19 on Video 1.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

TOPIC #2. Altitude and Measurement Indications

This topic is related to Charlotte's  paper for the 2011 ICKL conference,  "Indicating Altitudes in Motif Notation." Videos that accompany the paper can be found here: Part 1 - http://youtu.be/zb0WHY2D5bQ

After the conference Janos wrote to Charlotte:
"I think, that e.g. 'Distance and Size Thread, Thursday, January 28, 2010' Fig.1a-1c are typically altitude problems. I am not so much in favor of Ann's x in a diamond. Her theory about is absolutely correct, but this composite sign cannot really be used in the practice. It shows fine alone, but we need many other signs (pins, addition bow, attached rotation) at the same 'level' in notation, and the 'x in a diamond' uses too much space. But not only that. I like separating movement concepts to see clearly what the notation (the movement) is about. An altitude indication would express the message of Fig.1a-1c more direct. Though I am aware, it needs a much more refined level statement than Motif."

Issues that were discussed at this meeting included the following:

2.1   The meaning of the following indications in the support and leg gesture column.

2.2    Problems that sometimes occur with those indications.

2.3    Problems that can arise in writing and reading when the meaning of indications and rules of usage are changed.

2.4     The meaning of “x” in other aspects of the system. Does it always mean distance?

2.5     Three movement aspects: The distance of the body or the center of weight from the floor; the distance of the feet from the floor; the distance of the feet from each other. The picture below was used to illustrate this issue.

2.6     What does Ann Guest say the indications mean? See “Labanotation Disscusions”, by Ann Hutchinson Guest; and “Minutes for the Open Theory Meeting, November 4, 2008” (Topic #4).

2.7    Perhaps it might be useful in certain situations to use the altitude indication or the center of gravity indication to indicate the distance of the body from the floor. In Labanotation, where would the altitude indication be placed? (This part of the meeting wasn’t recorded on the video.)

Videos 6-7 below show the discussion of topic #2

Video 6

Video 7

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mindy Aloff Defends Dance Notation

Submitted by Mei-Chen Lu and Alice Helpern - June 22, 2012

The DNB is honored to share Mindy Aloff's excellent article defending dance notation which was posted in the February 2012 issue of Dancing Times. It goes without saying that her writing is eloquent and well-researched.

"Talking Point:  Mindy Aloff Defends Dance Notation"

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Topics and Links: 1993 conference "Movement Notation as a Tool in Education"

Submitted by Charlotte Wile, June 9, 2012

Recently the DNB Facebook posted some pictures from the 1993 conference "Movement Notation as a Tool in Education." The pictures are reprinted here below.

The conference was a wonderful get-together--very informative and great fun. The children in the pictures were my students at Ballet Hispanico, where I was teaching at the time.

A facsimile of the conference proceedings, which include lesson plans for Labanotation and Motif Notation, can be found here:


Notators (Sandra Aberkalns, Odette Blum, Ilene Fox, Billie Mahoney, & Leslie Rotman) obviously enjoyed dancing in a class at the conference.

Charlotte Wile taught a Motif Notation class to her students from Ballet Hispanico.

Ann Hutchinson Guest taught a class as well. The DNB current board members: Margot Lehman, Dawn Lilly, and Oona Haaranen observed the class.