Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal – Alec Finlay

During my research into Labanotation and the subsequent frustration of trying to implement it into my work, I looked into the other forms of movement that could be recorded using this notation system, particularly within the realm of sports science.

The popularity of Football, described by some as the “world’s game”, or in the words of Alf Garnett “the working man’s ballet”, seemed worthy for investigation. The 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico was notable for the being the first to be broadcast in colour and for the Brazil team. I can’t remember if we had a colour television at that time but I do remember the colourful football of the Brazilian team. They won the final beating Italy 4-1 and the last goal of the game from Carlos Alberto is considered by many to be the best goal ever scored in any World Cup.

Watching this goal made me aware that to record this would be a huge undertaking so I thought that goal celebrations would be slightly less cumbersome. I came across videos from Stjarnan FC who are famous for their elaborate goal celebrations. This is my personal favourite:

Also during my online research I found Alec Finlay’s “Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal”. Alec used the goal scored by Archie Gemmill for Scotland in the 1978 World Cup as the source to be recorded using Labanotation.

Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal

Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal – Alec Finlay

This project was concerned with the relationship between transcription and performance. This record was used for dance performances and workshops. Alec’s collaboration with dancer Kathi Palitz allowed her to interpret the collection of movements, shifting away from the past event and its nostalgic association, translating it into Kathi’s own terms. (Finlay, 2002)

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Seeing the notation in its entirety confirmed that recording great goals would require me to liaise with choreographers who were conversant with Labanotation. Alec used the services of Jean Jarrell and Rosemarie Gerhard at Laban Centre London to analyse and record the movement and gestures of just one player, dribbling past 3 opponents and scoring.

Here Alec is using transcription for the purpose that it is intended, a dance performance, so it was necessary for him to hire experts to faithfully translate the movements. Whether dance is “the working man’s ballet” or not, I feel the football angle is straying too far from the brief.

Posted in Blog - MA Fine Art.

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