Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Photos of Jean Kirsten's Exhibition "To Laban"

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - January 21, 2015

Following are photos of Jean Kirsten's exhibition "For Laban" at Ohio State University (January 13, 2015 to February 6, 2015).

To see larger images go here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

African Dance Movements Are Misunderstood

Submitted by Doris Green - January 9, 2015 

© 2015, Doris Green

When I realized that I was going to be the first person to teach African music and dance in Brooklyn College upon graduation, I knew that a culminating factor would be my going to Africa. After all I had been corresponding with Africans for years. After countries of African earned their independence there was an increase in African students who came to New York to study and shared their culture with us. This afforded me an insight into the music and dance of a number of different African cultures. I had formed a list of questions that I wanted to ask Africans on the continent for a definition of African dance, as well as the reasons why Africans dance was so commonplace throughout the continent.  I also needed a response to why African dances contained “contractions” or isolations, for lack of better terminology. This movement appeared to be in a number of dances.

Armed with my list of questions, I went to Africa in search of answers to these questions. I began my journey in East Africa. There I would see contractions in dances of this region. I was advised to go to West Africa because rhythm in West African music and dance was developed to the nth degree whereas the melodics of music received more attention than the rhythm in East Africa.  It would take me several trips to Africa consulting with cultural informants on a trams-continental basis before I was satisfied with a plausible response to the reason behind the contractions. It was obvious to me that the answer was not to be found among youthful cultural informants. Their response was ‘contractions’ existed for sexual flavor.  I rejected this answer, as I could not see any reason for contractions to be in all types of dances. I turned to the older cultural informants. When I asked Professor Opoku of Ghana, he told me that “sex: was not something they danced about in Ghana, sex was an act that they did. Further investigation revealed that in the traditional dances, the costumes worn contained secondary rattles that had to be moved in conjunction with the primary rattles of the musical ensemble.  The placement of these secondary rattles could be worn on the ‘waist’, the shoulders, the ankles, neck or arms. Wherever these secondary rattles were worn, would be the focus of the actions. Throughout Africa I have seen the movement, when the secondary rattles were worn on the waist, that we mistakenly call contractions’ done on one hip and also on a alternating basis of the hips.

Unfortunately research did not reveal a photo of traditional dancers outfitted in full regalia, together with a recording of the music of the specific dances so the primary and secondary rattles could be studied.  As dance became more popular and were taken out of their original setting, we see less of the traditional costumes. When Africans were enslaved and sent to foreign soil, these movements were transported with them, but they were without costume and the movement referenced everyday activities of work and play.

If you recall my explanation of ‘contraction’ to the attendees of the Theory Board meetings, I had them stand up and pretend to sit using their rear end, and at the last minute changing their mind and return to a standing position. I also told them that there was no forward thrust to this movement. But westerners have a tendency to misinterpret the movement and perform it in a licentious manner.

When I look at this video, I see all the greatness that the ancestors have been taking to the grave with them because African music and dance lacked written documentation.  I particularly enjoyed the bicycle wine.

My research reveals that African movements are taken out of context and misunderstood. In order to understand the movements, you must have knowledge of the music and its relationship to the dance.  I sincerely hope that my future publications, particularly my textbook Manuscripts of African Music and Dance will dispel these facile notions.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dance Notation Bureau Teachers' Bulletin (1964-1965, 1977-1982, 1988)

Submitted by Charlotte Wile - January 7, 2015; updated September 26, 2015

Facsimiles digitized from the Dance Notation Bureau Collection at Ohio State University’s Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute by support from the Dance Preservation Fund. 

The Dance Notation Bureau Teachers' Bulletin was published from 1964 to 1965, 1977 to 1982, 1988.

The purpose of the Teachers' Bulletin was to "provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, methods of teaching, and other relevancies; to provide an outlet for new developments in the field of notation research."

Teacher's Bulletin, Issue 1 (1964?)
Topic: "Reading," by Lucy Venable; Notation Quiz

Teacher's Bulletin, Issue 2 (October 1964)
Topics: Notation Symbols [by Carl Wolz];  Proposed Changes in Labanotation.

Teacher's Bulletin, Issue 3 (April 1965)
Topics: "Dictation," by Alan Miles; Notices; Corrections; True and False Quiz on Proposed Changes.

Teacher's Bulletin, Issue 4 (1965?)
Topic: "More on Reading," by Alan Miles.

DNB Teacher's Bulletin,  No. 1 (February, 1977)
Topics: "Professional Dance Repertory and the College Dancer," by K. Wright Dunkley, assisted by Barbara Katz;  Report of the 1976 Labananalysis Workshop, Part II, July 5-July 9, 1976; Concerning Revised Editions; Clarification for Folding-Unfolding; Cancellations of Twists and Rotations in the Torso; Clarification of the Convention Applied When Writing Stepping Out of a Position on Two Feet;  Teacher Certification Course; Correction (Elementary Study Guide); Summer Courses at Ohio State University;  Gail Grant Dictionary of Classical Ballet in Labanotation, by Alan Miles.

DNB Teacher's Bulletin, No. 2 (November, 1977)
Topics: "The Compiler Introduces: Readings in Modern Dance, Vol. 2", by Michele Varon; The Labanotator Revised; The Foot-Hook Rag," [Labanotation by Georgette Weisz Amowitz]; Guidelines for Creating Various Contributors to a Notation Score; "Report on the 1977 ICKL Conference," by Mary Jane Warner; Repertory, by M Varon; Congratulations; The Big City (Fragment) by Kurt Jooss, [Labanotation by Airi Hynninen]; Suggestions for Correcting and Grading Papers, by Odette Blum; "Presenting the Basic Elements of Labanotation" by Odette Blum; Correction, by Wendy Hilton; How to Check Material Prepared for Your Students."

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 3 (April 1978)
Topic: Technical Report: ICKL 1977.

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 4 (June 1979)
Topics: "A Different Approach to the Teaching of Labanotation," by Muriel Topaz; "An Exploration in Score Interpretation," by Judy Van Zile; Kunst Dictionary Now Available; Poof; Current Holdings," by Daniel A. Phillips.

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 5 (March 1980)
Topics: "Laban's Influence in China," by Tai Ai-Lien; "Teaching Labanotation to Children: When, Why, How" by Elizabeth W. Miller; "Notation in Context(s)" (A review of Alan Salter's Perspectives on Notation)by Robert Ellis Dunn;  "Scores Submitted to DNB for Inclusion in Master File and Archive, "by Richard Ploch; "The Educational Dance Score Registry: Submit Your Scores," by Daniel Phillips; Intermediate Study Guide Addendum; ICKL Conference Summer 1979," by Billie Lepczyk; "The Sailor's Hornpipe," notation by Jill Lind Beck.

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 6 (May 1980)
Topics: "A New Approach to Introducing Notation," by Odette Blum; Technical Report: ICKL 1979. 

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 7 (Nov 1980)
Topics: "EDSR: The Beginnings of a Free Market on Dance Scores," by Dan Phillips; "Dance Style Analysis," by Billie Lepczyk; "A New Idea That Needs Your Help," by Dan Phillips; Books on Sale; Announcements; Coming in the Spring Teacher's Bulletin; Unfolding; Moving Into and Out of Open Positions"; "Variation III From 'Pas de Six'," choreography and notation by George Montague.

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 8 (June 1981)
Topics: "Notating Japanese Bon Dances As Performed in Hawaii," by Judy Van Zile; "Labanotation Scores As Resource For Analysis: An Examination of the Relationship Between Existing Music and Dance in the Work of Doris Humphrey," by Stephanie Jordan; "The Great Debate: How to Use Labanotated Scores?," by Jill Beck; "Track Pins," by Ilene Fox; "Sample Adage Using Track Pins," notated by Jane Marriett; "New Teaching Materials"; "Excerpt From Theme and Variations, Variation 1," choreography and notation by Ray Cook.

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 9 (November 1981)
Topics: "Report on the Theory Discussions With Ann Hutchinson at the Dance Notation Bureau, New York, June 9-12, 1981", by Ilene Fox; "Excerpts from That All American Game," choreography and notation by Judith Allen.

DNB Teachers' Bulletin No. 10 (May 1982)
Topics: "Preface to the Technical Report of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, 1981"; "Technical Report of the ICKL, Part I"; "The Kashmiri Nautch," choreography by Ruth St. Denis, notation by Jane Marriett; "Technical Report of the ICKL, Part II".

DNB Teachers' Bulletin (Fall 1988)

Topics: "Have you Considered a Career as a Professional Notator?"; "Partners in Re-Creating the Past: Billy the Kid at Florida State University," by Patrice L. Whiteside et al; "Publications"; "ICKL Votes to Eliminate the Staple," by Ilene Fox; "Career Focus: The Staff Notator," by Leslie Rotman; "Reseach Profiles"; "Reading 'Real' Dances," by Judy Van Zile; Motif News & Some Questions for the Future," by Lucy Venable; "Viewing Labanotation in a Larger Context," by Peggy Hackney.