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

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