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!)

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