To follow up on Zack Brown's letter of Nov. 28th in which he 'went public' concerning his work on preparing a very different Labanotaton textbook, and in response to his more detailed letter to me, I have written the attached. Before sending this out, I have checked the content with Zack to get his comments and/or corrections. That done, I am now sending it out for everyone's information.
[Following is Ann's attachment]
The inclusion of expression has been a recurring concern among musicians. Many composers give a general indication of dynamics and tempo through use of the Italian terms. Some modern composers want to go much further. Other than accent signs, all such indications are placed above the music staff, not through or in the notes themselves. There are conductors who prefer to ignore any written indications of expression, preferring to find their own interpretation. Just as a reduced, ‘skeleton’ music score can exist, so in Labanotation a simple, basic version of the movement can be given. The amount of detail included depends on the purpose to which the dance score is being put.
Not true is the statement: “When we make extravagant claims about Labanotation such as to say it can record ‘any human movement’, we only mislead our listeners.” If it is important to capture particular nuances in an individual’s performance, it can be done. Witness the specific analysis and notations made of Obama and Romney during their pre-election debates. showing subtle differences in gestures, in stance, in minor head movements. etc. by specialist Effort/Shape practitioners. Such subtle descriptions can be included in a dance score when needed.
In music we expect and enjoy differences between performers and between conductors in rendering familiar pieces, but in the dance world too many people, critics in particular, want performances to look like their remembrance of the original. This attitude needs to change. Different bodies will look different, different training and influences will produce a different approach, a different attitude, a different style. What the Labanotation score should contain is what the choreographer believes is important, what is strictly part of the composition.
From Zack Brown, December 14, 2012