Benesh 101 - The Basics
Posted 28 April 2003 - 11:39 PM
- yes, a pair of dancers IS represented by two parallel staves of notation.
- if it is pas de deux/PARTNERED stuff, the two staves are connected, bar for bar, so that both dancers' movements can be read in sync.
- the same CAN be done with many staves, if necessary.
- however, often when many dancers are onstage - think swan lake -or bayadere or sleeping beauty - many of them are doing the same things as each other - OR half of them are doing the same thing "on the other side"/on the other leg - so this can be written much more compactly...(more on that one day, in the far far distance...maybe...)
as to computerisation, i'm sure you will find other threads here about THAT topic, however there IS a program called MacBenesh, invented by Rhonda Ryman at the University of Waterloo in Canada,
to WRITE benesh scores with computer accuracy. here is it's website:
strangely, i have just found a free download of a sample of Macbenesh. i have not yet tried it, but i will, and will let you know what i find out. it seems highly unlikely that this would actually be available free...
back at rhonda's page, if you click on the words 'Life Forms', you will see that this is another, different piece of software, designed to produce an animated figure for dance - but it has no connection to benesh notation.
btw, i also notice that on THIS page, you can pay $435 to learn what we are learning here...of course, THAT is personalised instruction! ;)
Posted 29 April 2003 - 02:00 AM
I agree, there aren't enough of us gracing the dance boards. However, if you have a look at the Bloch forums, a large proportion of us are situated in Australia. So much that we are able to have our own room that is quite active. Lots of friendly discussion goes on there, especially about us Aussies.
As much as the sun shone for Anzac over at your place, it rained here. Made for a very gloomy long weekend, unfortunately.
I was wondering, how did you learn Benesh notation? and where would I go about finding out more about it? I am very interested in really getting into it. Don't get me wrong, your teching here is excellent but you will only be able get it across to us to a certain extent, I'm sure you understand what I mean!
Posted 01 May 2003 - 06:10 AM
A: online? - not that i've found yet, cliff. you are right, of course, that this is necessary. i suppose i was trying to see how far i could get, with words/withOUT pictures...more or less as an experiment.
"For those of us less familiar with the terminology, would there be a set of pictures or diagrams that corresponded with various examples of the notation..."
the answer is probably that, in theory, one could get quite a bit further without pictures - but it is inefficient (and NOT user-friendly) teaching...
if there were really a significant group of people here, who seriously wanted to try to learn this stuff, i MIGHT put up some images on my homepage, and link to those - but at this stage only a small group of people have shown interest, and i imagine it's more a conversational interest than a real 'study' type of interest.
which brings me to peregrin's Q:
A: i studied at the benesh institute in london, which, at that time (and probably still) is the only place in the world where you can pursue this study to professional level. however, i have since seen mention of somewhere it is possible to study in paris (but i don't know to what level). also, the university of waterloo offers a basic course (see link from rhonda ryman's webpage, mentioned above).
"I was wondering, how did you learn Benesh notation? and where would I go about finding out more about it? I am very interested in really getting into it."
in australia, the VCA in melbourne USED TO offer a basic course - whether or not they still do, i have no idea.
there are a couple of books, but they don't take you very far at all.
you CAN do the basic course from the benesh institute by correspondence - but it is very expensive.
Posted 01 May 2003 - 07:42 AM
Oh, grace, I hope you are not thinking of stopping now!
I know that this is probably not the most efficient way of teaching us any notation... but I am enjoying it and trying to use what I have so far.
You mentioned that there are some books.
That might be helpful, too.
I'll have to do a search for that. ;)
Thanks again for your time and effort on this!
Posted 01 May 2003 - 11:03 AM
I'm nearly sure that the place to study benesh notation in Paris is the CNSM (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris), I'll check, but it should be.
Posted 02 May 2003 - 02:23 AM
just, some days, my attention is directed elsewhere!
i hope you have seen the other benesh thread (link below), where i am explaining some more general concepts which are applicable.
Posted 02 May 2003 - 12:14 PM
Posted 05 May 2003 - 02:36 AM
have a look at the benesh illustration on this page (the graphic with the vertical blue lines next to it):
the first picture is 5th position of the feet, flat on the floor, with the arms both coming DOWN via 2nd to bras bas.
the circular lines are "movement lines" which graphically depict the movement pathway.
bras bas is shown by two 'front' symbols, equidistant from the (body) centre, approx, one third of the way down from the waist line (towards the knee line) stand up and try it - that should be about right. OK?
the second picture shows the left foot is supporting the body (level)
the left knee is bent, turned out (level).
the right foot is also level, but extended just ever so slightly below waist height, to the side.
the movement line shows that it got there via a developpe (an inward curve) rather than by a straight lift (which would be depicted by an outward curve).
you will see there are movement lines for the arms: the right arm has gone directly forward (via devant) to 5th (en haut).
the left arm has gone (via devant) to 2nd. again, the movement pathways tell the story, as viewed from behind, of course.
there are two more signs to discover:
BELOW the stave completely, there is a curve which indicates a jump. in this case it is a jump sur place (no travel).
between the two top lines of the stave is a vertical line, with a little mark on it. what 'section' of the body is this? it's the section between the top of the head (line) and the top of the shoulders (line). therefore, it's the head and neck. voila!
the little mark on it can be considered a 'nose'. the head is turned slightly to look to the right (as if viewing that mark as a nose, from behind).
so the whole thing adds up to: a jump from 5th with a developpe of the right leg to waist height, arms going from bras bas to 4th en haut. any questions?
obviously, this example is using theory beyond what you have so far 'learned' - but i am just trying to take advantage of whatever images i find online...
Posted 05 May 2003 - 02:42 AM
on THIS french website page,
if you click on the little triangle in the circle, at the bottom-left of the image, to animate the dancer figure, you will see green lines appear as the dancer moves. this is a lovely illustration of movement lines, being created as the dancer dances. give it a go!
Posted 05 May 2003 - 02:59 AM
referring to body contact or other contact (such as contacting the barre).
the basic premise is that the level symbol is manipulated,
- to point up 'to' the right (meaning something RIGHT is making a contact)
- or up 'to' the left (meaning something LEFT is making a contact).
this little diagonal line then becomes very useful. it can be placed at the knee to indicate a retire, at the waist to indicate a hand on the waist, at the hipline to indicate a hand on the hip, on the shoulderline to indicate fingertips touching the shoulder, or even joined to a level symbol below the floorline, to indicate one foot CLOSING (i.e. contacting) the other in(to) 1st position.
remember: consider where the centre of the frame/centre of the body would be. then, if the symbol points up to the right, it's a RIGHT something (right hand or right foot). at this stage, it is the context which tells you which of these it is: hand or foot. (later, you will discover there are other aspects which make this clear.)
i have brought in this 'teaching' of CONTACT at this point so that we can make a start on reading the exercise in the COMBINATIONS FOR ALLEGRO book (previously linked to). that's where i'll pick up this discussion next, so if there are any questions at this stage, fire away!
Posted 05 May 2003 - 03:29 AM
Posted 05 May 2003 - 03:33 AM
Posted 05 May 2003 - 10:47 PM
Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:31 PM
Oh, this is great!!
Those movement lines are a good way to show what is going on.
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