Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fascinating Interview with Notator Ray Cook

DNB Board Member Oona Haaranen recently interviewed Ray Cook about his career in notation. The transcript of the interview is on the DNB site, but I thought I'd highlight two notable bits.

Asked how he got interested in notation, Ray replied:

In 1958 when an Australian dancer, Meg Abby on returning from studying notation in NYC, gave a lecture at Victoria's Ballet Guild where I was taking ballet classes. When asked if she could notate something she obliged by notating the position of a man sitting crossed legged and smoking. Immediately I was hooked and started classes the next day.
(I know many people who were totally fascinated and energized by their first glimpse of notation, but nobody else who started studying it the very next day!)

And asked about his process, Ray said (in part):
I notate supports first with a few easy to capture movements, then the floor plans with dancer's counts. I notate small phrases not knowing exactly how they are going to fit to the music. Except for a few notes I seldom worry about exact timing during rehearsals. I have found that with experience you know what not put in the score.
(I don't know as much about notation as I'd like to, and I wonder: do notators tend to notate the same kinds of things first? Or is the first thing recorded very individual?)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Great Quotes about Notation, Part 4

As some of you may have realized, the quotes in the "Great Quotes about Notation" series I'm running are also on the DNB's website. But they appear there randomly, and it's probably safe to assume that only the biggest DNB devotees among you have seen them all. And so I'm posting them here too. So, part 4, from Anna Sokolow:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Speaking of Languages...

If you can read French, you should check out Notation du Mouvement, a fantastic French site about dance notation that gives equal time (sort of like TV networks and presidential candidates!) to Labanotation and Benesh Notation.

Lire, écrire, analyser et penser le mouvement!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stagings This November

Later this month, several stagings will be performed. If you're in Atlanta or Paris, go!

  • November 15, 2007 - Paris, France: Noëlle Simonet is staging six dances for her Compagnie Labkine, which will perform at The Centre National de la Danse, in Paris, France. The dances are Charles Weidman’s Traditions, Valerie Bettis’ The Desperate Heart and three solos from Helen Tamiris’ Negro Spirituals.

  • November 15, 2007 - Paris, France: The Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris is performing Charles Weidman’s Lynchtown from Atavisms. The stager is Jean-Marc Piquemal.

  • November 30, 2007 - Atlanta, GA: Agnes Scott College is performing Helen Tamiris’ Negro Spirituals in Atlanta, GA. Bridget Roosa is the stager for this production.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dance, Dance Notation, and Language

The recent obituary of Igor Moiseyev in the New York Times included something he once said about classical ballet: that it's “the grammar of movement.” I'm sure a lot of smart and thoughtful people have a lot to say about whether or not ballet is the grammar of movement...but me, I didn't spend much time thinking about that particular issue. Rather, I started thinking about one of the most fascinating threads on the DNB's Theory Bulletin Board: Labanotation as a Language.

The thread is a little old (2001), but it's in no way dated. In it, well over a dozen people mull over questions such as: Is Labanotation a language? Or is it just a script, with dance being the language? Is Labanotation more like a programming language or a human language? Should it satisfy a university's foreign language requirement? Or is "foreign" indeed a crucial part of such language requirements?

I can't remember the fine points. I'm going to go read it again now.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Great Quotes about Notation, Part 3

Another choreographer, another great quote. Here's Bill T. Jones on the Dance Notation Bureau: