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BW

Everything you always wanted to know about labanotation...

9 posts in this topic

Well, perhaps not everything - but it's a nice start! :D

I found this link in my "mail box" this morning. I subscribe to something called "A.Word. A. Day."

labanotation (lah-buh-noh-TAY-shun) noun, also Labanotation

  A system of notating details of a dance movement on a staff.

[After choreographer Rudolph Laban (1879-1958) who devised it.]

To see what a labanotation looks like, visit: http://www.rz.uni-frankfurt.de/~griesbec/LABANE.HTML

Thought you might find this interesting. :)

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Thanks, BW. It may not be everything I need to know about Labanotation, but it's certainly enough. Years ago, I bought a book on the subject (I don't know if it was the one by Ann Hutchinson referred to here) but I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters. No fault of the system. I never learned to read music, either. I guess I prefer words to symbols. :D

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Me too, FF! Although I suppose one could point out the obvious - words are made up of symbols! ;)

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Ann Hutchinson Guest occasionally comes to my daughter's ballet school and teaches classes. Years ago, I had the opportunity to observe a class. It was fascinating stuff - definitely a whole new language to learn.

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There's another aspect to the language -- a kind of language readiness, I guess -- called Effort/Shape that analyzes movement, breaks it down into components. One easy example is that a clenched fist would be "bound" movement, while an open hand would be "free". I neither read nor write Laban, and have attended Effort/Shape lectures, though not taken the course, unfortunately. It's a wonderfully clear way to see dance, and talk about dance.

Thanks for posting the link, BW -- that's a useful resource to have on the board :D

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I took an Effort/Shape class years ago. It was well worth it in learning different ways of observing and explaining movement. I'd recommend it to anyone on this board.

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I worked with Ann Hutchinson Guest when she first staged the pas de six from 'La Vivandiere' for Joffrey II in 1976, and on the tour bus had some level one Labanotation lessons from Maria Grandy. The Labanotation scores I saw looked very busy, with a lot of information.

Years later, I glanced at Georgette Tsinguirides Benesh Notation score for Cranko's 'Taming of the Shrew'. Her Benesh Notation score seemed so empty. It was amazing to watch her teach a stage of forty people, (six or seven different groups doing different things) what to do from a score that didn't look like it contained much.

I am certain Ms. Tsinguirides can stage many ballets without a score, but how is it that a Benesh Notation score can hold so much information and yet not look like much?

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It's a highly intuitive system, with roots in both St.-Léon's "Stenochoreography" and Stepanov notation and the other notation systems using the five-line staff as a framework. (Hey, maybe the historical aspect is what appeals to me?!) There are lots of classical steps which have their own "shorthand", but it can get as highly detailed as it needs to be in critical areas. It's specifically designed for ballet, but like Labanotation it's been utilized for other purposes, like movement analysis in tracking neuromuscular disorders.

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