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Benesh 101 - The Basics


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#1 grace

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 04:58 AM

BENESH MOVEMENT NOTATION

FIRST LESSON :)

here we go, then!

the system is VERY simple, consisting of only a few simple symbols, which can be manipulated in such a way as to build up a vast amount of information about the position/s of the human body - and thereby about its movement (from position to position).

if you actually want to try to LEARN this (instead of just reading about it), i suggest you rule up an oversize 5-line music stave, and use pencil, NOT pen, to write any notation - as you will definitely be needing to be doing some erasing! ;)

imagine a human body (dancer) standing in front of you, so that you are staring directly at his/her back. (both of you facing the same way, ensures that you, the notator, have the same right and left as the dancer.)

now picture that body superimposed on the standard 5-line music stave, thus:

the top line represents the top of the head
the next line represents the top of the shoulders
the middle line represents the waist
the next line represents the knees, and
the bottom line represents the floor.

ABOVE the top line, one has the possibility of IMAGINING a 'ledger line' (just as in music), which is one-line-space above the 'top of head' line. THAT line represents the full height of the upstretched arms (i.e. straight arms, NOT balletic 5th).


any questions thus far?

please note the exact descriptions, such as "TOP OF shoulders", rather than just "shoulders", because that ends up mattering a lot...

OK - next image:

IMAGINE the music stave mentally chopped up into little squares, so that you could represent one little human figure, according to this system, in each square....along the stave, from left to right.

each square will have an IMAGINARY centre-line - which will be the dancer's body centre-line. anything written on the right of that centre-line, will represent a RIGHT part of the body. anything written on the left of the square, will represent a left part of the body (UNLESS the limbs cross over the body's centre-line - but we will get to that later...much later! ;) )


are you still with me?

any questions thus far? :)

it would not hurt to actually rule up a few squares, and dot in the centre-line, and dot in the ledger line, to help cement this image in your mind.

#2 grace

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 05:06 AM

as you can imagine, this means you can read from left to right across a stave, seeing the body transition from one position to another, and thus building up a sequence of movement.

i will try to write commentary (like this) in black, and put factual benesh ('lesson') information in blue. that way, we can have Q&As or conversation, in-between presentation of content, without inconveniencing people who just want to get to the nitty gritty.

please feel free to PM me, if you want to ask a Q but not in public - although i would encourage you to ask publicly - because i do find that it does bring up intelligent questions (and you are probably wanting to ask what others are thinking, anyway).

also, this isn't the best medium for sharing such concepts - so my explanations may sometimes miss the mark. please be patient! :)

#3 su-lian

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 01:06 PM

I'm sorry to ask this, and I probably ought to know it, but what is a "stave" (I do music, but in french...so I don't know what it is)?
Thank you!
Su-lian.

#4 Xena

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 01:33 PM

Stave is the name for the five parallel (as Grace says '5-line music " ) , equally-spaced, horizontal lines. Also called a staff. Not sure what it is in French....

Jeanette

#5 su-lian

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 02:36 PM

Thank you! Just in case you want to know, in french, it's "la portée" (not le porté!).
Su-lian.

#6 grace

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 06:00 PM

thanks su-lian and xena! :) now i learnt something new, also. tell me, is there any difference in pronunciation of porte and portee? or is it just the context that gives away the real meaning?

#7 grace

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 06:10 PM

next bit: the area of paper above the stave (ABOVE the imaginary 'ledger line') is used to record TIMING information - obviously with ballet that will most often be MUSIC. but it need not be. so just think of this area as being for TIMING.

the area WITHIN the 5-lines (+ the ledger line) is used to record body information - positions, for example.

the area BELOW the stave is used to record SPATIAL information - such as:

- where you are positioned, onstage
- what direction you are facing (no numbers needed here!)
- any direction of travel or floor pattern


#8 su-lian

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 01:48 AM

There is no real difference in pronounciation between "porté" and "portée", maybe just a slight difference in the accentuation of the syllables but it is not really noticeable (I'm not even sure whether most people make a difference). However, the articles change so this allows to see the difference, and the context too, fo course. ("porte" is pronounced differently, but I suppose you can't do the accents ;) and know the difference).
Su-lian.

#9 grace

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 03:06 AM

thanks su-lian. yes - i do know about the accents, but it wouldn't work. i thought e acute was done by holding down 'alt' key and typing 180? i thought that's what i used to do, in the past, when i bothered to include them...?

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 03:13 AM

For é, type alt 130, for è, type alt 138. Here's a thread with a lot of useful marks and accents:

http://www.balletale...=&threadid=8579

#11 grace

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 03:31 AM

thanks mel. :D i'm SOOOO lazy these days! i have that thread of yours bookmarked, and i totally forgot about it.:)

#12 grace

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 05:05 AM

i am jumping a head a little bit here... well, a LOT, really! - but i think this will help us all.

here is a link to a sample page, from a collection of ballet class allegro exercises. (it's a good book, btw.) it will help us a great deal that, on the right-hand page, the exercises are expressed in french and/or english (on the left-hand page, they are notated in benesh).

http://www.dtol.ndirect.co.uk/bab7.htm

i will use this page as an ongoing reference in this thread.

#13 grace

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 05:18 AM

at that sample page, you can see:-

- the 5-line stave,
- the movements to be read from left to right,

- the word Intro (for Introduction) and the single bracket - like a sideways T - which ends the Introduction, ABOVE the stave. it's only a 2-bar Introduction. (this is TIMING information),

- the single symbol just marginally below the bottom line (i.e. the FLOOR line) of the FIRST FRAME. this is a 5th position (with the left foot behind). you haven't "learnt" that, yet - but i am pointing it out, because it's an example of something written at the floor-line (which just happens to be feet!),

- the (vertical line) symbol BELOW the first frame of the stave, which tells you WHERE on stage the dancer is...and much further down, under the third stave, you will see a semi-circle shape, which shows a semi-circular path taken, on the floor (i.e. SPATIAL info goes BELOW the stave).

so - thus far - you might be able to recognise those things...

can you? :)


#14 Hans

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 06:38 PM

It's very clear to me, grace :).

#15 grace

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Posted 15 April 2003 - 06:07 PM

great. feedback is good! ;)

there are only 3 symbols you need to memorise:

l : a vertical line is used to denote something IN FRONT OF the body

_ :a horizontal line is used to denote something LEVEL with the body

. :a dot (BIGGER than the little punctuation dot) is used to denote something BEHIND the body.


ta-dah! now you know EVERYTHING.

well - not quite.

the concept of "level" is BODY THICKNESS. imagine your body squashed between two panes of glass - one in front of you, and one behind you. the space inside the glass panes is ALL "level". and yes - *MY* "level" is now larger than it used to be!!! ha-hah... :)


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