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Ballet Notation and Diagrams

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Ballet choreography is normally transmitted from person to person through demonstration and verbal descriptions. Some dancers make notes and diagrams to help remember the steps for a role. Marie-Agnès Gillot recently posted this diagram of the soloist's choreography from Béjart's Boléro (which she will be performing February 24, 27 and March 1/4/18):

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BeS85BVh_yF/?taken-by=marieagnesgillot

I wonder who the original author of this chart is, and if this has been used in the past by POB soloists?

 

Edited by pherank

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It looks very much like Millicent Hodson's drawings for Nijinsky's Rite of Spring, or Remy Charlip's Air Mail Dances.  Hodson uses drawings to clarify her work -- they're not designed to record the work for others to reconstruct.  Charlip would often use drawings to give dancers a basic script for a dance that they would be able to interpret rather than replicate.

Looking online for an example of Charlip's drawing I came across this article on dance notation -- as an occasional notator and reconstructer from notation, I take exception to Kirstein's dismissal of the practice, but I agree with the author that notation can be a jumping off point as well as a recording.

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2 hours ago, sandik said:

It looks very much like Millicent Hodson's drawings for Nijinsky's Rite of Spring, or Remy Charlip's Air Mail Dances.  Hodson uses drawings to clarify her work -- they're not designed to record the work for others to reconstruct.  Charlip would often use drawings to give dancers a basic script for a dance that they would be able to interpret rather than replicate.

Looking online for an example of Charlip's drawing I came across this article on dance notation -- as an occasional notator and reconstructer from notation, I take exception to Kirstein's dismissal of the practice, but I agree with the author that notation can be a jumping off point as well as a recording.

Remy Charlip created dances?! I did not know that. I loved his book Arm in Arm as a kid.

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Oh yes, he was one of the original members of Cunningham's company, and made work from the 1950s till his death in 2012.  Like many of the dance makers who came after the big founders of American modern dance, he had a lighter touch when it came to working with dancers (rather than the austere kind of loyalty that artists like Graham required) -- the Air Mail Dances gave his performers a level of personal freedom that would have been unthinkable to the previous generation  (I've always thought his time with Cunningham jump-started that aspect of his practice)  All of this was interspersed with his work as a producer, writer, and illustrator -- my daughter and I used to read his "I Love You" to each other at bedtime.

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Some other examples of dance notation -

La Cachucha, Friedrich Albert Zorn, dance notation
Zorn_Cachucha.jpg

"…in translating Zorn's Cachucha notation, for example, it was found that when the steps were reproduced exactly as stated, they did not physically fit comfortably with the music"
—Ann Hutchinson Guest

This collection is quite marvelous:

Collection of Dances in Choreography Notation (1700)
https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/collection-of-dances-in-choreography-notation-1700/

 

Apparently Edward Tufte took on this subject:

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Edited by pherank

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Posted (edited)

Felipe Diaz Gomez, Ballet Master at SFB posted this image of his notes for, I don't know, Nutcracker??? It's not easy to tell. Is "canon" a musical canon or the cannon fired on stage?
"Luke" = Luke Ingham, "Joseph" = Joseph Walsh, and "Carlo" = Carlo Di Lanno.

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Edited by pherank

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