Thursday, February 28, 2008

More on Joffrey's Celebration of Tudor

Just posted on the Winger: from Joffrey Ballet's Lauren Stewart, beautiful, intimate photos of the Joffrey's performance of Tudor's Dark Elegies:

(If you're not familiar with the Winger, it's a completely addictive dance website that includes blogging from dancers, dance teachers, dance lovers, etc. And an impressive number of these bloggers are also fantastic dance photographers. Oh, the photos -- they're enrapturing.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Second Centennial

The latest issue of the DNB's Library News celebrates a second birthday, too: the centenary of Antony Tudor. Tudor was a strong believer in the value of Labanotation, and 26 of his 54 dances are notated. Read more about his notated works (and ballet class combinations!) in the article.

Perhaps worth mentioning:

The New York Times has been covering Tudor's centenary as well. Here's an article about the Joffrey's Tudor program: In Chicago, the Elusive Genius of Tudor Revisited.

And here's an article about the New York Theater Ballet's program celebrating both Tudor and Limón: Restoring Luster to Two 20th-Century Dance Legends (notice how the article title is a play on the title of Tudor's Dim Lustre).

Monday, February 25, 2008

José Limón and the Best Ever Two-Word Description of Labanotation

Today I received the most recent issue of the DNB's Library News (if it wasn't in your mailbox, you can read it here). It includes an article about choreographer José Limón, whose 100th birthday would be this year. The article is written by former Limón dancer Lucy Venable, who details the 12 Limón dances that are preserved in Labanotation scores. She also mentions that Limón's centennial was celebrated in November at the CORD Conference at Barnard College; for curious readers, here's a summary of the conference events. (Even more curious readers might want to read the Limón Foundation's e-news or some issues of the Limón Journal.)

But here, to me, is the best part of the article: "From time to time he would inquire how our current 'Navajo rug' was coming along..."

What a brilliant way to describe the look of Labanotation! For starters, it's pretty accurate. See for yourself -- does this rug not look remarkably like Labanotation?!

Photo by Glen Belbeck
(click photo or Flickr link for larger version)

Moreover, just about everybody has a mental image of a Navajo rug. And not a lot of people have a mental image of Labanotation. Next time somebody asks me what Labanotation looks like, I'm not going to say, "Well, it's sort of like a music score, but there are columns and geometric symbols, and..." Nope. I'm going to say, "It looks a bit like a Navajo rug."

(And it's just two words. Two words! Hooray for saying much while saving breath!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Activity on the Theory Bulletin Board, Part 2

There's another excellent and educational addition to the Theory Bulletin Board: an essay by Ann Hutchinson Guest called "How Much Laban Is There in Labanotation?" The most recent entry in the "Names for What We Do" thread, Ann's essay examines the extent to which current Labanotation reflects Laban's original ideas.

The verdict: less than most people would probably assume.

Like so many systems in so many fields, Labanotation developed over time and includes others' contributions and well-reasoned revisions. This is not surprising in the least -- just easy to forget in the case of Labanotation because, well, "Laban" is so inextricable from "Labanotation."

One thing I didn't know (though it's not entirely surprising -- who doesn't somewhat possessively guard his work?) is that Laban resisted the changes. As Ann writes:

Laban was not happy about the changes that the DNB notators had to make. In Germany, Albrecht Knust also needed to make such changes in his development of Kinetography Laban (KIN); in doing so he also incurred Laban’s displeasure. It must be remembered that, in the field of dance, Laban only notated his own choreography, and did not personally encounter other needs.
Read the entire essay by going to the Theory Bulletin Board and clicking "Names for What We Do" or by clicking here.

Activity on the Theory Bulletin Board, Part 1

More theory meeting minutes are available on the DNB Theory Bulletin Board. The most recent minutes summarize the October theory meeting, which covered tick marks in the notation of African dance, categories of African dance and music, issues in the interpretation of palm facing indications in notation, distinctions between accent and emphasis, and the exact meaning of "stillness."

To access the newest posting, follow the link above and click "Minutes for the Open Theory Meetings" or follow this link.

As always, responses are welcome. Instructions for submitting postings are on the Theory Bulletin Board page.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Do you know about THE (INTER) MISSION? According to the site, it's a "social network for individuals with a vested interest in the future of dance."

Personally, I'm a little social networked out. But maybe you're not. And if there's one social network worth highlighting to this audience, THE (INTER) MISSION is the one.

Is Video Enough?

If I remember my dance history correctly (and I'm willing to admit I might not), this clip (the first part) is the only extant moving image of Isadora Duncan -- and it's disputed whether or not it's actually her:

Not much to go on, right?

All together now: Video's not enough. No matter how much there is, it isn't enough.

Happily, in the case of Isadora Duncan, there's a lot more: oral history, body memory, Labanotation...