Technical Journal – Labanotation

Labanotation is a standardised system for analysing and recording dance movement. Hungarian Rudolph von Laban (1879-1958) published this first in 1928 as “Kinetographie”.

Staff

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The “Staff” is a vertical grid which indicates which part of the body is moving/gesturing etc

  1. Support column – transference of weight eg steps
  2. Leg gesture column
  3. Body column
  4. Arm gesture column
  5. Head column

Bars, Beats and Time

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The centre line will indicate beats with a short dash across and bars are indicated with a line right across. A vertical line indicates the duration of each step eg position 1 transfers weight to right foot for 2 beats.

Directions

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Horizontal movement is indicated using the symbols at the top of the page. Vertical movement uses similar symbols; cross-hatched symbol is up high, dot in the middle is level/horizontal, and full-shade is low/down gestures.

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Relationship Pins

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Indicated horizontal and vertical directions and can be used to show directions in a room/space, written in a square. Can also show intermediate positions by modifying the direction of the symbol, and by merging two pins together.

Arm and Leg Gestures

These symbols show the position of the limbs.

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Intermediate Direction Gestures

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Usually in increments of 15º but it is possible to get intermediate 7.5º, using symbols connected with a bow. Eg a symbol for 0º and another for 45º with a dot between.

Foot connections uses modified pins.

Centre of weight and transference of weight

Five thing can happen:

  1. Everything stays as it is
  2. Centre of weight is shifted
  3. Weight is transferred – steps
  4. Jumps
  5. turns

A small circle = hold weight

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The staff should be read from the bottom up.

A/ The starting position; weight on both feet, legs straight, both arms down.

B/ Weight stays on both feet

C/ Right leg lifted to mid point, left arm to low point

D/ Hold weight on right arm, left arm straight down

E/ Transfer weight to both feet

F/ Weight stays on both feet

G/ Jump and leg gesture

H/ Land on both feet

Shifting the Centre of Weight and Steps

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Walking

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Jumps and Turns

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Body Parts

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Quantity Signs and Connection Bows

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Paths

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Floor Plans

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These are just some of the basic symbols used in Labanotation. There is also software available which facilitates the drawing of symbols.

Posted in Blog - MA Glass.

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