Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Minutes for the DNB Theory Meeting, October 13, 2015

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - December 29, 2015

Attendees: Ray Cook, Joyce Greenberg, Ann Hutchinson Guest, Mei-Chen Lu, Lynne Weber, Charlotte Wile.

The following documents a DNB theory meeting held on October 13, 2015 at Lynne Weber's apartment in New York City.


TOPICS: The agenda; The process of writing LN.
  • Minute 1:15. Suggestions for the agenda were listed.
  1. Inner focus. (This topic was not discussed at this meeting).
  2. Swinging.
  3. The derivation of relationship bows.
  4. Where is the mover in a floor plan pin? (This topic was not discussed at this meeting.)
  5. Initiation bows.
  6. What process do people use to write notation? How should Labanotation reading and writing be taught?
  • Minute 9:50. Each person at the meeting talked about his/her own process in writing LN.

NOTE: To watch Video 1 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.


TOPICS: More about the process of writing LN; How should LN be taught?
  • Minute 00:00.  More about the process of writing LN.
  • Minute 11:20.  How should LN reading and writing be taught?

NOTE: To watch Video 2 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.


TOPICS: More about teaching LN; The derivation of relationship bows; The evolution Labanotation; The logic of LN.
  • Minute 00:00.  More about teaching LN .
  • Minute 1:40.  The derivation of  relationship bows.
  • Minute 14:00.  The logic of LN (e.g., "root" symbols.) 
  • Minute 16:44.  Symbols based on "root" symbols vs. symbols that are not related to the system as a whole.
  • Minute 19:40.  More about the derivation of relationship bows.


NOTE: To watch Video 3 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.


TOPICS: Symbols that have more than one meaning; Swinging.
  • Minute 00:00.  Symbols that have more than one meaning. For instance, a dotted (broken) line is used for "resultant movement" and a dotted (broken) curve is used for "near." 
  • Minute 9:00.  "Swinging" - Definitions and indications.


NOTE: To watch Video 4 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.


TOPIC:  More on swinging.
  • Minute 00:00. More on swinging  What are the characteristics of swinging? Various ideas were discussed, such as impetus, a change in energy, giving in to gravity, relaxation, Free Flow Effort.
  • Minute 10:57. "General swinging" and "true swinging."


NOTE: To watch Video 5 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.


TOPICS: More on swinging; "Giving into gravity," "Initiation," "led by."
  • Minute 00:14. More on the how the proposed symbols could be interpreted. Also, how might the symbols be modified to indicate other aspects of swinging (e.g., its direction and body portion involvement)?
  • Minute 7:52. More on what we mean by "swinging." Which of the following should be included in how it is depicted: initiation, arc like, a change in energy, relation to gravity?
  • Minute 10:25. The difference between the concept of "giving in to gravity" (i.e., "Heavy") and "initiation" (i.e., the impetus of a movement or where in the body the movement begins).
  • Minute 13: 37. "Initiation" vs. "led by."


NOTE: To watch Video 6 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.


TOPIC: More on initiation.
  • Minute 00:14. Should initiation bows be drawn short or long? For instance, always drawing them short may help support the idea that initiation occurs at the beginning of a movement. On the other hand, maybe the bow should be as long as length of the movement(s) it modifies. That would make it possible to show the initiation of a phrase of movements.
  • Minute 10:05. Other ideas for drawing the initiation bow. For instance, the curved part of the bow could be dotted. Or the beginning of the bow could be solid and the end could be dotted.
  • Minute 13:45. Using an indication such as a dotted initiation bow to show the "point of interest."


NOTE: To watch Video 7 on a larger YouTube screen, go here.

Addendum from Charlotte Wile. For other discussions about initiation, go here:

3) "What is Spatial Tension?" (Discussion #37 at the end of the posting.)

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Video About the 2015 ICKL Conference

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - January 17, 2016

"Founded in England in 1959, the International Council of Kinetography Laban is a non-profit international organization. 
Its members practise the system of movement and dance notation originated by Rudolf Laban, known as Kinetography Laban or Labanotation. This system is one of the main systems of movement notation for the documentation of, education about, and research on human movement. ICKL has about a hundred members and fellows from more than twenty-five countries.
The aims of ICKL are to promote the use of the system; to increase research for its development and applications; to act as a deciding body with regard to the orthography and principles of the system; to support experimental projects in related areas; to encourage information exchange among centres and individuals using the system. Its activities include the organization of a biennial conference and the publication of the conference proceedings." (Quotation from the ICKL web site.)
film about ICKL's 2015 conference in Tours, France is shown below. (For a larger screen click the YouTube icon at the bottom of the video.)

For more information about the 2015 conference, go to http://ickl.org/conference/conference-2015/

Monday, December 14, 2015

Notation Graph Paper and the Irmgard Bartenieff Collection

Submitted by Mei-Chen Lu - December 14, 2015

Following are the compilation of email correspondence, with subject titled "History Question," on the CMA list serve on November 11, 2015.

Discussion#1, by Susan L. Wiesner

Does anyone know when Labanotation paper was first used/produced?

Susan L. Wiesner PhD, CMA
LIMS Archivist and Moving Stories Fellow 2011 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellow RCL Subject Editor: Dance

Discussion#2, by Wanda Ottes

Not being sure, but I think I read some place that somewhere in 1930 labanotation paper was used. 

Anne Hutchinson Guest will surely know!

Wanda Ottes

Discussion#3, by Ann Hutchinson Guest

Susan, I can give some information on your question.  At the Jooss-Leeder Dance School at Dartington Hall, Devon, England, sheets with the three-line staff were printed in about 1936/7.  Black and red lines were used.  I may still have a sample somewhere.
At the Dance Notation Bureau we had large 11 by 17 sheets printed with the three-line staff, anticipating the need for the scores we were writing for Balanchine, Symphony in C, for instance.  This would have been in 1948.  We soon learned that the wide sheets were fine for putting on a table in a library but unwieldy in the rehearsal studio.  We then used 8 1/2 by 11 sheets, putting them in a ring binder which provided the two-page spread and also allowed us to take out a single sheet to hold while demonstrating.  We had 8 squares to the inch paper printed and also 10 squares to the inch.
Please note, Susan, that Labanotation must always be written with a capital L because it is a registered name.
I see that you have other questions which I will answer separately.
Best wishes,

Ann Hutchinson Guest

Discussion#4, by Susan L. Wiesner


I am processing Irmgard's archival collection and wondered if you could clear a few things up for me.

One, there aren't dates on much of this, but the paper on which she notated is distinctive. Some is clearly from when she was in Germany, other is general graph paper, but a few are on Labanotation paper (with the lines/vertical staffs already on, not requiring her to draw lines. When was this paper available? this might help me with dating the material.

Also, there is what appears to be material for a new, Labanotated edition of Feuillet's L'Art. Was Irmgard preparing a new published text? Were you working with her? Was she continuing work that began with Knust?

There are also notated pages (on graph paper) labeled A, B, C. it looks like studies, but it 's in a folder with other score examples, one of which has marginalia 'ask AH' (I assume that's you).

Well, if you can shed any light I'd truly appreciate it! This is such a fascinating collection.
thanks and hope you're well.

Best in dance,
Susan W

Discussion#5, by Ann Hutchinson Guest

Now to reply to these questions, Susan.  I’ll remind you again that Labanotation must have a capitol L because it is a registered name.

Irma (she was always Irma at the beginning, later she seemed to have preferred and everyone one used the full Irmgard) worked in Germany with Albrecht Knust in the 1930s on transcribing Feuillet notation into the Laban system, which Knust called Kinetography Laban.  I do not think there was a plan to publish the results, I am not sure that they ever finished the work, it may have been just an interesting project.

Have you come across the publication which Irma did with Irma Otte Betz in circa 1938, it was called Studies in Laban Script (or was it Laban Notation?)  They ran into the problem that Universal Editions, Vienna, claimed to have the copyright to the Laban system, they were not allowed to explain the meaning of the symbols.  So a little booklet explaining the symbols, copyrighted by Universal Editions had to go with each copy of their Reading Studies.  When we formed the DNB we got a letter from them saying that we were not to infringe on their copyright, etc. etc.   This problem held us up in our being able to publish a textbook; it took some sorting out!  There should be information at the DNB about that.

I don’t know about those other pages, but “ask AH” would definitely have been me.  Too bad that I am not closer to take a look and help out.

All best wishes,

Discussion#6, by Susan L. Wiesner

Ann, duly noted on the registered name.

I have been using Irmgard's different names for some dating purposes: Irma Doom, Irma Dumbois-Bartenieff (and vice versa) and Irmgard Dumbois-Bartenieff, and finally Irmgard Bartenieff. It also helps that there is a shift from German to English! 

I haven't seen the publication per se, but have found notes for the text, AND some interesting contractual letters with a Herr Kruger, giving copyright (it does appear to be split between Kruger and Bartenieff, and the letterhead lists Amsterdam, not Vienna, so I'm not sure this is the same text. But when I have time to dig further, I will try and sort that out! 

Re: the Feuillet, 13 dances were transcribed, as were lecture notes, an introduction to a neue edition. So it does appear that she considered publishing; we will just have to do it for her (in a digital collection?)! There are also menuets 'by Taubert (17xx) acc'd to Klemm (1855)' AND research on Basse (Pre-classical) danse. 

Thank you thank you thank you for your help with this. I can't wait to open this archive to the world, but it's so full of treasure that it will take some time to go through it all.
take care,

Susan W

LN and LMA History Question

Submitted by Mei-Chen Lu - December 14, 2015

Following are the compilation of email correspondence regarding Labanotation and Laban Movement Analysis development entering college dance programs on the CMA list serve during November 12 to 14, 2015.

November 12, 2015

Discussion #1, by Gill Wright Miller

Does anyone know, or have a sense of, when LN and LMA starting (or hit a tipping point) entering college dance programs in the United States?

Gill Wright Miller, PhD
Professor and Chair of Women's and Gender Studies
Professor of Dance 
Denison University
Granville, OH  43023

Discussion #2, by Susan L. Wiesner

I know Virginia Moomaw had her grad students (UNCG [The University of North Carolina Greensboro]) recording their thesis projects in Labanotation. She joined the university in 1945 (I believe).

Susan L. Wiesner PhD, CMA
LIMS Archivist and Moving Stories Fellow
2011 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellow
RCL Subject Editor: Dance

Discussion #3, by Ann Hutchinson Guest

That’s right, and the scores were complete and neat.  When Herb Kummel at DNB refused to allow me to have any scores for educationalm purposes, Virginia [Moomaw] sent the best examples from UNCG [The University of North Carolina Greensboro].  Herb said the choreographers would not allow it, I wrote the choreographers and they were open and willing. A dark chapter in DNB history!

Ann Hutchinson Guest

Discussion #4, by Susan L. Wiesner

They are beautiful scores. You can find them in Special Collections, University Archives at UNCG (Greensboro, NC). There's a wealth of archival material there, theatre and dance!

Susan L. Wiesner

Discussion #5, by Gill Wright Miller

How well I remember! I was working at the DNB when Herb was the Executive Director.

But I am asking when college and university program began offering LN and LMA in their curricula--perhaps as required courses for a dance major, for example—on a consistent basis. 

Denison offered LN in the early, early 1970s—that’s where I was first exposed to it in a systematic way. But I don’t know if we were “early adopters” because the Ohio State University [DNB] Extension was so close or because lots of post-secondary schools were already offering it, or… I am trying to put our adoption into historical context. 

And then when was LMA introduced to college and university programs?

Does anyone have a sense of these?

Gill Wright Miller

Discussion #6, by Susan L. Wiesner

I would contact the archivist at UNCG, to find the earliest thesis which included the Labanotation scores, as a start. They can also pull up old syllabi from Moomaw's courses (and course catalogs) (I did some research on early dance curricula when I was there as a post-doc and the course catalogs go way back). They (UNCG)  also hold old records from AAHPERD, when discussions took place regarding dance curricula in general, and probably included some discussion re: LN and LMA. Erin Lawrimore is the uni archivist (erlawrim@uncg.edu). And the AAHPERD files were well hidden in a small closet-like room. Don't know the current status.
best of luck!

Susan L. Wiesner

Discussion #7, by Tara Stepenberg

If this is useful (I haven't looked at all the threads of this discussion)  - I taught a LN class at SUNY Brockport beginning in l967.

The Philadelphia Dance Academy under the direction of Nadia Chilkovsky required LN of all their Elementary, High School and College Students when I taught there in l965-66.

When I went to the Boston Conservatory of Music in l959-60 LN was a required course for all dancers and of course LN was a required course at The Juilliard School when I attended beginning in l960.

I began to teach LMA at Hampshire College and then for the Five College Dance Department beginning in l973.

Tara Stepenberg

Discussion #8, by Mei-Chen Lu

Ann [Hutchinson Guest] probably will know better.  She was invited by Martha Hill to teach Labanotation at the Juilliard school in 1951? 1952?  Was not that counted as the first “college” where offered Labanotation course?   Helen Priest Rogers, and Lucy Venable taught Labanotation at Connecticut College Summer Program in 1948.  Helen taught notation in Mount Holyoke College from 1953 to 1975.  

Mei-Chen Lu
Director of Library Services
Dance Notation Bureau

November 13, 2015

Discussion #9, by Peggy Hackney

Hi, All, 

I received my Advanced LN Certificate in 1966 (while I was in Ethiopia in the Peace Corps). Immediately when I came back to NYC (in January of 1967), I went to the DNB, which was then on 12th street and 5th Ave.  When I came in, and talked with Mickey Topaz and Lucy Venable, they welcomed me, and said that I could go into the Notator Training Program, which I did (worked with Lucy on "Negro Spirituals.") ....AND they said that since I had a BA in Psychology from Duke, I should definitely work with Irmgard Bartenieff! 

So...I immediately joined the first Effort Shape training program, and we all became Certified in 1968. (In order to pay for my E/S classes, I became the Janitor for the DNB....Later I "migrated" upward and became the book-keeper for the DNB, in addition to teaching Elementary LN there. I also wrote the Elementary Correspondence Course in LN, which came out around 1968 or 1969.

I was teaching Labanotation at Sarah Lawrence College in 1968-1971, when Bessie Shönberg was the Chair of Dance. It was a required course for Dance Majors). ( I received my MFA in Dance there in 1971) I continued teaching there until 1976, when I joined the Bill Evans Dance Company. 

When the State University of New York at Purchase was built, with its performing arts emphasis (I believe the is was in 1971) , I taught what was then called Effort-Shape (now Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis). Bill Bales was the chair of the program and LMA was required for all dance majors, as LN had been at Julliard. I stopped teaching there in 1976 when I joined Bill Evan's company and began touring the USA.

Herb Kummel chastised me for becoming a professional dancer rather than staying in NYC at the DNB and working on Dance Scores)! I agree with Ann that Herb's time at the DNB was a "dark time." Herb did not value Irmgard at all! I felt he was one of the major causes of the Effort/Shape part of Laban's work broke off from the DNB.....I felt that all of Laban's work should stay together! (I realize that there are many different opinions on this.)

One of the aspects of history that really fascinates me is the role each person plays in the dissemination of a major field of work. The "field of the Laban Work" is not some abstract concept. It is made up of the personalities and work of many individual people and their passions!!

warm wishes to all,
Peggy Hackney

Discussion #10, by Wanda Ottes

Hi all,

May-be some info about the "first" in the UK is also interesting:

My former teacher Marion North was one of the important and key persons in British contemporary dance of the last century, leading the Laban Centre for 30 years.

Marion studied at Homerton Teacher Training College, before undertaking postgraduate study at the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester in the 1950s. The Studio had been set up in 1946 by Rudolf Laban.

Under Marion’s leadership, the Laban Centre became a pioneering institution that considerably raised the status and range of dance study in the UK.

The Centre’s history reads as a list of ‘firsts’:

Laban established Britain’s first BA (Hons) Dance Theatre in 1977, the first MA in Dance Studies and first PhD programme in dance in 1980,
the first MA in Dance Movement Therapy (in collaboration with Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, USA) in 1985,
the first MA Scenography [Dance] in1999, and
the first MSc in Dance Science in 2001.

Wanda Ottes

Discussion #11, by Ann Hutchinson Guest

Wanda, so good to have this information, thank you!.  I would like to point out one thing.  It was Lisa Ullmann who established the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester.  Everyone automatically gave Laban that credit and I know Lisa regretted that she was overshadowed and not give the credit.

The first dance department at a university was established by Jane Winearls at Birmingham University.  I know that Andy Adamson can give details on that.

Good to get this history out there.

Ann Hutchinson Guest

Discussion #12, by Wanda Ottes

Dear Ann,

You are completely right, and sorry for that I said it was Laban himself, but of course it was Lisa who established the studio in Manchester.

Let that be clear! All credit for that to her.

All the best,
Wanda Ottes 

Discussion #13, by Carol-Lynne Moore

Dear History Buffs,

I agree with Peggy — the field of Laban work is made of the personalities and work of many individual people.

Consequently, it is worth remembering Dr. June Layson, an Art of Movement student and founder of the Dance Studies program at the University of Surrey.

This was also among the earliest university dance programs in the UK.

Moreover, Dr. Layson was instrumental in creating the National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD), that is based in the University of Surrey library.

The NRCD holds many important collections of the works of Laban luminaries including Rudolf Laban, Lisa Ullmann, Warren Lamb, Joan Russell, Betty Meredith Jones, Audrey Wethered and Chloe Gardner, as well as records from ICKL and the Laban Guild.

Carol-Lynne Moore

November 14, 2015

Discussion #14, by Shannon Glasgow

Hi History Buffs,

You may be interested in Sarah Chapman's (Hilsendager) dissertation "Movement Education in the United States: Historical Developments and Theoretical Bases". Movement Education Publications published it in 1974. 

It has been many years since I have read it and I do not remember if it examines higher education. But it does look at influences from Germany and England, including Laban's work, in k-12. Sarah's work also discusses the influence of Margaret H'Doubler, Dewey, Gertrude Colby, Bird Larson, and Teacher's College. 

Shannon Glasgow

Discussion #15, by Deborah R. Brandt

I found the dissertation below while searching for Sarah Chapman's work [Toward Embodied Education, 1850s--2007: Historical, Cultural, Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives Impacting Somatic Education in United States Higher Education Dance]. Both can be purchased through ProQuest.  Dragon's dissertation seems to be very thorough and references Laban and Bartenieff and Chapman's work numerous times.  It may add information to this discussion, if it has not already been mentioned.

Shannon, my mother studied dance education at Teacher's College in the Physical Education Department in the late 20s or early 30s.  She often mentioned the influence of H'Doubler, and Larson on her growth as a dancer and dance teacher.  I am excited you brought up these names because it helped me learn more about the philosophy of movement education and the purpose and meaning of dance that shaped her and therefore my involvement and philosophy re: dance and movement.  It never before occurred to me that she must have been influenced by Laban's work, and I unknowingly followed.

Deborah R. Brandt

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Photos of Jean Kirsten's Installation "Rubber Twist with Rudolf"

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - November 12, 2015

Following are photos from Jean Kirsten's exhibit in Dresden at the Hole of Fame (Nov 7, 2015 - Nov 15, 2015). The installation is called "Rubber Twist with Rudolf."

To see larger images, go here.