Submitted by Beijing Dance Academy -- May 16, 2022
Chinese Text: Sharina, Zhang Jiayuan, Liu Huangkexin
English Text: edited by Mei-Chen Lu
On April 22, 2022, Beijing Dance Academy hosted an online webinar titled "’Dance +’ Academic Salon: Laban System and its Practice in China Series （舞蹈+学术沙龙：拉班理论体系及其中国实践系列）.” The first series was devoted to "Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest and her contributions to Labanotation in China." Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest just passed away on April 9, 2022, at the age of 103. The guest speakers included National First-Class Choreographer Luo Bingyu (罗秉钰）; Lu Mei-Chen （卢玫蓁）, Director of Library Services from the Dance Notation Bureau; Professor Ou Jianping （欧建平）, Honorary Director, Researcher, master/doctoral/postdoctoral Advisor of the Dance Institute, the Graduate School of Chinese National Academy of Arts; and Wang Yunyu （王云幼）, Distinguished Professor of Beijing Dance Academy. These four guest speakers shared their work and academic experiences with Ann, and cherished memories with her. Ann was a scholar who made important contributions to the dance field. A large number of online participants attended the webinar and many of them left enthusiastic comments, which created a good academic atmosphere.
The organizer, Professor Wen Rou (温柔）, Dean of the School of Humanities and Director of the Dance Institute of Beijing Dance Academy, first expressed her sincere gratitude to the guest speakers. She spoke of the idea of the “Dance + Academic Salon” and work practices in the field of research of the School of Humanities, Dance Science Research Center and Dance Institute of Beijing Dance Academy. At the same time, she wished to spread and develop Laban system in China through the webinar series. Lastly, the Academic Salon was moderated by Dr. Sharina （莎日娜） of the Dance Institute of Beijing Dance Academy.
The organizer, Wen Rou
Ann Hutchinson Guest (L) and Luo Bingyu at 2013 ICKL Conference in Canada. Courtesy of Luo Bingyu.
The first guest speaker, Luo Bingyu, shared "In Memory of the Mentor of Chinese Dance Notation - Ann Hutchinson Guest." Ms. Luo has devoted to the dissemination of Laban's theory in China. Her related teaching materials are produced and will be published on the basis of the broad platform of Beijing Dance Academy. Ms. Luo gave vivid descriptions of Ann and her teaching to people who learned Labanotation in China. Moreover, she shared her experiences interacting with Ann. In 2008, Ann and Ms. Luo became acquainted with each other through her translation of Ann's Labanotation (4th Edition). During the following five-year correspondence, Ann always gave guidance to Ms. Luo and patiently provided explanations to her questions. Ms. Luo found the clerical errors in the published book and corrected them in a timely manner. In 2013 at the 28th International Council of Kinetography Laban/Labanotation (ICKL) Conference in Canada, Ann spoke highly of the Labanotation Chinese translation completed by Ms. Luo. In Ms. Luo's narrative, Ann was not only a lovable and reliable mentor, but also a respected and beloved elder. Ms. Luo expressed her deepest condolences and remembrance of Ann's passing.
Sandra Aberkalns (Professional Notator, L), Ann Hutchinson Guest (Center), and Mei-Chen Lu in an outing in Summer 2020. Courtesy of Mei-Chen Lu.
The second guest speaker, Lu Mei-Chen, Director of Library Services at the Dance Notation Bureau, shared "Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest's Lifetime Research, Contributions and Books in Labanotation" by combining precious historical pictures and documents. Lu first stated Ann's important contributions to Labanotation. Ann began learning dance notation at the age of 16 and devoted herself to the career of dance notation. Ann was an important figure in the implementation and development of Labanotation theory. Ann published more than 45 books about dance notation, recorded 60 dance scores, and compiled many teaching materials of dance notation. Her Labanotation (4th Edition) is an essential textbook for learners of Labanotation all over the world. Until two months before her passing, Ann's latest theory book Advanced Labanotation Book 10: Body Variations was just released. Furthermore, Ann planned to finish writing the last two Motif Notation books for children and to attend ICKL conference in Hungary this summer.
Lu shared some of the dance scores recorded by Ann. The Green Table, a work choreographed by Kurt Jooss, was first recorded in 1939 and published in 2003; The Shakers, choreographed by Doris Humphrey, was recorded in 1948. In addition, she shared a very meaningful event in Ann's notation career. In 1952, Ann’s Labanotation score Kiss Me, Kate (choreographed by Hanya Holm) obtained the first copyright in the drama category at the Library of Congress Copyright Office. It began the new era of copyright works for dance. It was an exciting event for all choreographers, which meant that dance notation became a fixed medium recognized by the Library of Congress Copyright Office in addition to films. In another event, Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun score was donated to British Library, but no one could read it. Ann and her colleague decoded Nijinsky’s notation and successfully translated it into Labanotation. She later published Faune Restored. This case is known as "the highlight moment in Ann's Labanotation career". Lu stated that besides Rudolf Laban's contribution to dance notation, Ann also made significant contribution to Labanotation research, practice and writing of dance notation textbooks. At the end of her speech, Lu reminisced about her contacts with Ann, and expressed her endless memory and fondness to Ann.
Ou Jianping accompanied Ann Hutchinson Guest to visit Dr. Sun Yatsen Mausoleum in Nanjing in 1988. Courtesy of Ou Jianping.
The third guest speaker, Professor Ou Jianping, shared "The Charm of the Chief Authority of Labanotation: Ann Hutchinson Guest I Knew". Professor Ou reviewed several exchanges between himself and Ann: the 1988 Nanjing International Conference for Coordination Method Dance Notation; the Fifth Hong Kong International Dance Conference at Hong Kong Performing Arts Academy in 1990; and the two ICKL conferences held at Beijing Normal University in 2004 and 2017, and so on. Professor Ou's warm and sincere feelings moved every attendee.
Professor Ou recalled that at the 1988 Nanjing International Conference for Coordination Method Dance Notation, he was greatly impressed by Ann's sincerity and modesty. Ann politely pointed out that at that time people in China did not have a thorough understanding of various contemporary dance notation systems, and the notation research was relatively superficial. She humbly said that her studies in dance notation from other countries were also insufficient, and she still needed to continue her studies. She hoped that everyone could communicate more and learn from each other. At the Fifth Hong Kong International Dance Conference in July 1990, Professor Ou was impressed by Ann's analytical thinking. She argued that even the same dance movement should be able to record and analyze differently. She pointed out that the weakness of Labanotation is actually its strength. When Ann attended the ICKL Conference in Beijing in 2017, she was nearly 100 years old. And yet she attended the whole meeting with high concentration and spoke actively. She talked in detail the story that Mr. Laban entrusted her to spread Labanotation. In the eyes of Professor Ou, Ann was a dancer with humanities and love. Professor Ou also condensed these experiences and feelings into a long text that will be published soon to express his infinite admiration and nostalgia for Ann.
Ann Hutchinson Guest (center, and her husband, Ivor Guest, next to her) coached Afternoon of a Faun in 2005. The stager, Wang Yunyu (R4), stood next to Ann. Courtesy of Wang Yunyu.
The fourth speaker, Wang Yunyu, a Distinguished Professor of Beijing Dance Academy, shared her two working experiences with Ann Hutchinson Guest in Taipei, Taiwan in 2005 and in Colorado, USA a year later. Her topic was "Sharing the Time of the Faune with Ann Hutchinson". Professor Wang recalled the story of rehearsing Afternoon of a Faun with Ann and showed photos. During rehearsals, Ann was very careful and paid attention to details while guiding the dancers. She not only explained to the dancers how to read Labanotation and clarify details and the meaning of movements, but she also described the relationship between dancers and use of space through Effort. When there weren’t enough information in notation, Ann would make small modifications to make the movement smoother. In addition, Ann also made a great deal in music. She would spend a lot of time explaining a music beat in relationship to movement and eye focus, which made dancers and students who rehearsed this work quite admire Ann. In addition, Professor Wang also showed us another side of Ann who loved to make fun. Ann would tell the main character "Faun" how to hang clothes, and other details and key points of the performance by fiddling with small models wearing costumes. She would also portray a frightened girl. Her exaggerated and lovely facial expressions always made everyone laugh, but also let the dancers have a greater understanding of the performance. On the day of the performance of Afternoon of a Faun, there were no empty seats in the theater. Ann also said that this 21-day trip brought her home full of memories. Lastly, Professor Wang expressed her memorial to Ann, and hoped that we could remember her kindness.
These four guest speakers shared their cooperation and learning experiences with Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest in different areas, which greatly benefited the audience. In the subsequent exchange session, the speakers had an in-depth conversation around the theme and discussed Ann and her contributions from more aspects. Lu Mei-Chen clarified that Ann was not a direct disciple of Laban, but a disciple's disciple of Laban. Professor Ou Jianping said that this point is very important for us to understand the history of the development of Labanotation. Furthermore, Professor Wang Yunyu also introduced professor Liu Fengxue's use of Labanotation to record Vast Desert, Solitary Smoke Rise Straight Op. 115 （作品第115号：大漠孤烟直）. Professor Liu Fengxue (刘凤学） trusts Labanotation very much and wants more of her works to be recorded in notation. The online audience asked questions after the guest speakers’ speeches and conversations. Lu Mei-Chen responded to the audience who wanted to know about the creation of Laban's Vom Tauwind und der Neuen Freude (Of the Spring Wind and the New Joy). In the end, Professor Zhang Suqin of Shanghai Theatre Academy spoke about the situation of communicating and working with Ann before her death.
Through these four guest speakers’ conversations and sharing, allowing us to better understand Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest, an important figure in the history of dance. We learned her lifelong love in dance and her ardent expectation for Labanotation in China.