Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Single or Multiple? Looking at Location in Movement Notation

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - October 28, 2014
Written by Tara Munjee, Jeffrey Longstaff, and Charlotte Wile

[Following is a thread originally posted on the CMAlist.] 

From Tara Munjee - August 5, 2014

Hello all,

I wanted to share my article from July 24, 2014 featured in Research in Dance Education with community members.  Entitled "Single or multiple? Looking at location in movement notation," the article explores ways to think about and address notating movement through multiple locations--a common framework for contemporary site-specific dance practice.

Below is the link that will allow a limited number of free views.  If you are so fortunate to be affiliated with an institution that subscribes to RSDE, perhaps you could access the issue through your library database.

Best regards,
Tara Munjee

From Jeffrey Longstaff – August 31, 2014

Dear Tara

Thanks for sharing your article on notation and contemporary dance practice.  I read the pdf article and found it to be quite interesting, especially in regards to the practical approaches from Lawrence and Anna Halprin.  I remember some student-led movement explorations in college which were very full of motion, rather than striving to attain any particular fixed form or shape.  They were very liberating in that way.

I wanted to reply to your article just to mention another "Laban-based" notation which can be primarily found in Laban's 1926 German work "Choreographie".  Here, in the early 1920s, before Kinetography Laban or Labanotation had been initially formalized, it can be seen that Laban (as a practicing artist himself) also originally based his concepts of space as being in constant motion.  His early notation signs were different than those used in Labanotation today, and as he didn't give these early signs any particular name, I usually call them "vector signs" since they refer to lines of motion, without any regard to locations or positions.

Valerie Preston-Dunlop (in her biography of Laban) recounts that when Laban's co-workers led the development of Labanotation into the position-based signs which we use today, that Laban felt a “painful compromise” since the motion-based system he was developing would not be included in the formal notation system.  Later, in his book Choreutics, he refers back to the motion-notation as "an old dream" (and offers up a variation on the original signs - basically consisting of two forces: 1 dimension and 1 diagonal which interact in a constant interchange to create a continuously deflecting spatial motion.)
I do not know anything about Halprin's method, but from reading your article, maybe this is true - It seems that Halprin uses the constantly changing environment as the motion, and perhaps this can be contrasted (or perhaps it relates somehow) to Laban's continuous motions coming from the constant changing of the body's orientations such that human body movement is always deviating and changing directions.  Laban formalized this in the theory of "deflections" (or, more properly, "deflecting inclinations" since motions are considered to be constantly in flux, constantly changing direction at least somewhat).

Perhaps the "vector" signs in this earlier Laban-based notation can add another layer to your discussions, and not only artistic, but also with a sound basis in motor-control theory (as described by Bernstein as "oscillating like a cobweb in the wind" - later being developed into the theory of "coordinative structures" which has remarkable similarity to some of Bartenieff's methods!

Best wishes!
Jeffrey Longstaff

From Charlotte Wile -  August 31, 2014

Hi Everyone:

I too thank Tara for her excellent article and found Jeffrey's comments quite interesting.

I wonder if the concepts and indications used in Labanotation and Motif Notation for "motion" vs. "destination" might be of interest for this discussion.

For instance, see Ann Hutchinson Guest, “Bullet-In-Stead,” Issue No. 4, June 1995:

Motif Notation of the “B" Scale using both motion (progression) and destination symbols can be found here:

Also, a thought provoking comparison of the vector symbols and Labanotation direction signs is included in Jeffrey's "Translating 'Vector Symbols' From Laban's (1926 Choreographie."

Charlotte Wile

From Tara Munjee – September 1, 2014

Hello Jeffrey,

In writing this article, I was interested in initiating conversation on how (and why) one would incorporate moving through multiple spaces/environments as part of a notation score.  Your discussion of  Laban's "Choreographie" aligns well with this idea. 

Laban's "old dream" notation highlighting dynamic, ever-changing bodily engagement with space combined with a notation for an ever-shifting spatial canvas offers possibilities for some very exciting scores!

Thank you for sharing your ideas and knowledge!

Best regards,
Tara Munjee

No comments:

Post a Comment