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Benesh 103 - Reading Notation:

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#1 grace


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Posted 12 May 2003 - 02:15 AM

this thread is a companion to Benesh 101 - The Basics, at


and Benesh 102 - General Concepts, at


in THIS thread i will endeavour to use the basic information conveyed in the '101' thread, to assist you to follow an allegro exercise, which can be viewed at


i suggest you open two windows, so you can read this thread while viewing the allegro page. (three, if you can handle it: the third for the '101' thread!)

i am aware - and no doubt you've realised this too - that the double page from the allegro book DOES provide (on the right hand side) a list of all the steps, in english and/or french. however, my aim here is to help you to TRANSLATE the benesh symbols (on the left-hand page) into the steps, rather than just to 'find out' what they happen to represent, in that particular context.

reading from left to right across the first stave...

in the '101' thread, we have already talked about the facts that:-

- this is a 4/4 exercise, the music to be played 'allegro con brio'
- the dancers starts in 5th position with the LEFT foot behind
- the dancer is positioned (3/4 of the way) upstage centre, JUST to the right of the centreline
- there is a musical Introduction of 2 bars of 4/4
- it doesn't TELL you how to count that 'Intro', but if you feel the need to count your way thru, i suggest you think in terms of 1&,2& for each bar
- on the last count of the Intro, the dancer does a demi-plie: that, is, the knees are BENT and LEVEL, they GO DOWNWARDS and they GO OUTWARDS from the centreline.

the two vertical lines at the end of the Intro, signal the beginning of a passage which will later be repeated (on the opposite side). (forget about that for now).

in bar 1:

count 1 -

the two level symbols ON the floorline indicate two feet en DEMI-pointe in 2nd position

count & -

again you will see the demi-plie in 5th position, and you may notice that the feet have NOT changed. the left foot is still behind, so those symbols you've now read, have created an echappe to 2nd sans change.

count 2 -

the contact symbol 'hanging from' the kneeline indicates that the right foot is contacting the other leg JUST below the knee. in this case, it is to the SIDE of the leg (not in front or behind).

count & -

again, a demi-plie in 5th position - this time with the RIGHT foot behind, so counts 3 & 4 are a releve passe UNDER (with specific placement of the actual retire position).

bar 2 indicates the very same movements "on the other side"

are you with me?

bar 3 indicates a releve passe under with the left foot, and another with the RIGHT foot.

thus far, then: echappe sans change, releve passe under, echappe sans change, releve passe under, 2 releves passes under, then...(...bar 4 coming up next).

that's as far as i'll go, till i find out whether or not you are still 'with' me. we need to learn one new piece of information before we can read bar 4. :)

#2 su-lian


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Posted 12 May 2003 - 07:51 AM

I just wanted to make sure, in the first bar, after count 1, did you really mean count & or di you mean count 2? Otherwise, everything is OK with me.

#3 grace


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Posted 12 May 2003 - 10:43 PM

su-lian. thanks for pointing that out. i DID mean '&' - but THAT means that what i had labelled '3','4' should have been be '2', '&' . i changed my mind, mid-post, about how to recommend counting it - and i forgot to edit everywhere i should have. :) i have corrected it now.

#4 diane


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Posted 17 May 2003 - 07:05 AM

It all makes wonderful sense!

I am looking forward to more;) , but no sweat, grace!
I can imagine how difficult it must be to try to teach us all of this by this medium.
You are doing a great job, though:) :D !


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