Tutorial – Gayle Matthias – 8/1/2018

Gayle pointed out that I should focus on the client and look at the history of the college, its alumni whether anyone went on to gain any recognition with any particular piece of music, choreography etc that you could reference. I did some research and the only connection to music and dance was a couple of ex-pupils formed rock bands. 

As suggested by Gayle I looked graphic design, particularly Saul Bass and Neville Brody and Rodschenko. She noted that the windows look a bit like bookends and I have considered the large expanse of mirror between both windows.  

I have looked at the school and its relationship with contemporary dance and it has hosted performances and workshops from significant contemporary dance companies, such as Rambert and hosting Experiential’s “Bridging the Void”

My impression is that Eastbourne College, although a traditional boarding school, is keen to promote and engage with contemporary dance and the building of a new dance studio attests to the enthusiasm in engaging with contemporary dance.

My Creative Process – Sketchbook

Initial scribblings

I was exploring the dancing form using stylised figures. The "big fish..." idea was starting to become a common feature.

I was exploring the dancing form using stylised figures. The “big fish…” idea was starting to become a common feature.

The feature of dance studios is a large expanse of mirror, in this instance it it between the two windows. During a recent tutorial with Gayle, it was noted that the windows appear as bookends and the spines of books could be a source of inspiration. The disco mirrorball and a labanotation symbol were a possible solution.

The feature of dance studios is a large expanse of mirror, in this instance it it between the two windows. During a recent tutorial with Gayle, it was noted that the windows appear as bookends and the spines of books could be a source of inspiration. The disco mirrorball and a labanotation symbol were a possible solution.

 

The influence of Labanotation was starting to inform the composition.

The influence of Labanotation was starting to inform the composition.

Gestures/Dressage

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During my research I looked into gestural expressions of the hands, which are an important feature of hip hop performance. Accompanies the verbal dexterity of African American working class "signifying" tradition of "dissing" your opponent during rap battles.

During my research I looked into gestural expressions of the hands, which are an important feature of hip hop performance. Accompanies the verbal dexterity of African American working class “signifying” tradition of “dissing” your opponent during rap battles.

Labanotation

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These pages shows the translation of movement and gestures into notational form

These pages shows the translation of movement and gestures into notational form.

 

These sketches indicate how these may appear. I used black paper and light coloured pencils to replicate the highlights, as opposed to the lowlight of shadow. The problem with these compositions is that the relationship between movement and notation is too apparent.

These sketches indicate how these may appear. I used black paper and light coloured pencils to replicate the highlights, as opposed to the lowlight of shadow.
The problem with these compositions is that the relationship between movement and notation is too apparent.

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“Rosetta Stone”

Creating a cypher that the audience and use to explain the notation and follow the movements within the composition.

Creating a cypher that the audience and use to explain the notation and follow the movements within the composition. There are 3 element to the system, the “staff” where the notation is presented; the parts of the body and their associated symbols and the kinesphere which indicates positions of gestures and movement within the personal space of the performer.

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This is a sketch of a pictogram illustrating how the system works. I am keen that this should be an interactive experience where the viewer gleans the information from the "Rosetta Stone" and follow the notation within the composition.

This is a sketch of a pictogram illustrating how the system works. I am keen that this should be an interactive experience where the viewer gleans the information from the “Rosetta Stone” and follow the notation within the composition.

Window Compositions

I researched Oskar Schlemmer which led me to look at the Russian avant garde, particularly Constructivism and Suprematism for inspiration. I wasn't particularly happy with my attempts/

I researched Oskar Schlemmer which led me to look at the Russian avant garde, particularly Constructivism and Suprematism for inspiration. I wasn’t particularly happy with my attempts.

 

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My previous attempts were too flat and two-dimensional. Adding single-point perspective seemed to add dynamism.

My previous attempts were too flat and two-dimensional. Adding single-point perspective seemed to add dynamism.

 

Here is a colour rendering of both windows. the corridor effect leading to the "key" explaining the notation on the floor of the corridor, like hieroglyphs. The mirrorball and Smiley offer more clues to the dance genre that the notation indicates.

Here is a colour rendering of both windows. the corridor effect leading to the “key” explaining the notation on the floor of the corridor, like hieroglyphs. The mirrorball and Smiley offer more clues to the dance genre that the notation indicates.

Problems with CAD – Designing Before Making

 

Reading – The Craftsman – Richard Sennett

Since the late nineteenth century, the blueprint was equivalent to a lawyer’s contract where the complete design concept has been presented as finished before it has been constructed. For architectural projects Computer-Aided Design is an invaluable tool for designing and presenting these large projects. However there is a disconnection between head and hand design when using CAD. Even before the advent of digital design, the design process was a combination of drawing artist’s impressions and making models. The tactile experience using pencils and pens gives the designer a greater understanding of how the finished design will appear and also greater familiarity with each brick or window that is rendered. The materiality of the bricks and the site becomes ingrained and with each site visit, you redo the drawings again. This circular metamorphosis can be eliminated with CAD and large scale, complex architectural projects could not have been made by a group of architects working by hand.

There are three failures that impede good design when using CAD

  1. Disconnect between simulation and reality
  2. Disables a relational understanding
  3. Over-determination

 

Peachtree Center, Atlanta (2004)

Richard Sennett has observed these three failures using CAD for an architectural project. The first issue is that the “disconnection between simulation and reality” highlighted the daily life of the environment where the building is situated. The lack of tactile experience on the part of the designer did not take into account that the summer temperature from late morning until early evening. The streets lined with cafes were not full of people enjoying al fresco drinks as the temperature for most of the daylight hours can be too hot to enjoy the ambient cafe experience.

Secondly, the ability to change the viewpoint to disguise or conceal an eyesore, for example hotel rooms overlooking an ugly car park can be presented as a minor detail and that changing the scene to something more flattering “disables a relational understanding” of the site. Disguising these issues using flattering viewpoints merely hides the problem, not eradicate them.

Sanitised “overdetermination” presents a false impression of how the building will work. The ideal rationality of CAD designed totality does not present the predictable wear and tear of the life of a building or the informality of street life and old neighbourhoods. The “crinkled fabric of buildings” allow small businesses to occupy cheap tatty spaces and the impersonal cool rationality of CAD does little to present this aspect of the evolving urban space.

The tactile act of drawing and the abuses of CAD shows that when there is a disconnect between head and hand are separate, relational understanding suffers if computers do this learning. Solutions to problems can usually be resolved on site through improvisation of the plan through “embodied knowledge” where builders use their experience and physical knowledge of the site and its problems. These manual workers did not sit in the design sessions from the start so therefore unable to point out these design issues. The separation of head and hand in this instance is not simply an intellectual issue but a social division.

  

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.

Abstract for “Work in Progress” Conference

How does my current research around dance interplay with the technical constraints and potential of architectural glass?

 

I am using as a basis for this module a live competition brief, the Stevens Glass Prize. This is an annual architectural glass competition from The Worshipful Company of Glaziers & Painters of Glass. This year’s brief is to design and, if successful, fabricate two windows that will be situated within a dance studio at Eastbourne College.

 

Dance is corporeal and performative and there are many aspects that can be investigated, for example music, movement, rhythm etc. Inevitably this brief lends itself to examining the human form through life drawing and Expressionism to articulate movement and gestures.

 

Henri Lefebvre wrote an essay about the nature of gestures or dressage and gesture is a common feature of the performance of rap music as well as breakdancing. The sub-cultural dimension of dance, which is not of the theatrical tradition and could be seen as subversive by comparison. Visual artist’s have used dance sub-cultures such as Northern Soul and Rave as a source for their creative practice.

 

I have also been familiarising myself with Labanotation which is a form of notation used by choreographers. This system is not particularly intuitive to the uninitiated and I have been investigating its possible use to record and present movement and gestures of informal dance moves.

 

The technical considerations have made it necessary to visit the site and I also plan to visit Proto Studios, an architectural glass fabricators. I am required to provide a sample section and a visual representation of the finished panels in situ. Experimentation of materials will happen once I have settled on a final design.

Technical Journal – Silkscreen Induction

 

 

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There are now screen printing frames for accurate printing. The screen is clamped in position.

 

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After the screen has been attached to the frame, a sheet of acetate is taped to the base. The image is printed onto the acetate.

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Paper is positioned under the acetate and tabs are taped on the bottom edge and one side edge to ensure consistent registration when printing subsequent copies.

 

Thoughts on my creative process

I am currently looking to finally get some images after some research. I have followed the advice from the tutorials and I have been looking into Labanotation, choreography and dance sub-cultures. I have to admit that Labanotation is a bit ambiguous to understand and it is not intuitive to the uninitiated. However I believe this will work in my favour as the initial response may be that of bemusement from the viewer and then to discover that the routines illustrated are of a non-theatrical tradition, may amuse the viewer. Dance music and club culture are a source of inspiration, offering alternative choreographies of an informal nature.

Music sub-cultures such as Disco, Northern Soul,Hip Hop and House Music have always interested me. The informal performative nature of these predominantly working-class sub-cultures offer an edgy alternative to the theatrical tradition of classical and contemporary dance. It was interesting to read Adrian Piper’s essays about disco and funk as a politically defiant expression of sexuality. Highlighting the hypocrisy of detractors as they “attempt to eradicate their own uncontrollable impulses” (Piper, 1975). Transgender Bathroom Bill anyone? Also Halifu Osumare discussed the global phenomenon of breakdancing as a method of resolving disputes and its expression of the signifying (Dissing) tradition prevalent in African-American popular culture.

I have also looked at the work of Bauhaus artist/choreographer, Oskar Schlemmer, who seems to have been treated as a minor footnote in the history of the Bauhaus. The famous Bauhaus parties enabled him to design costumes and geometric set designs have influenced contemporary fashion designers, such as Issay Miyake and choreographers such as William Forsythe.

I’m collating an image bank of dancing figures, gestures, musical ephemera with a view to create an assemblage or collage of imagery. I briefly mentioned to Kim Charnley that in “the real world” I would not have this opportunity to research deeply into these subjects, but the research that I will eventually undertake into the technical aspects of architectural glass will broaden the research into something that is not so specific to this brief that I am using as a structure for this module.

Bauhaus, Constructivism, Performance – Johannes Birringer

Oskar Schlemmer’s designs/choreography has been mostly treated as a minor footnote. Bauhaus parties allowed playful exuberance and were an important prominent aspect of the school. The “Bauhaus: Art as Life” exhibition at the Barbican Gallery in 2012 presents these social choreographies. One photo shows “the building as a stage”, included Schlemmer’s musical stairs and glass spheres suspended from the ceiling. Actors in costumes present themselves as architectural elements.

 

Schlemmer arrived at Weimar Bauhaus in 1921, running the wood and stone workshop and the sculpture workshop, undertook many preparations for festivals/parties. He assumed the role of a kind of multimedia impresario. His practical work motivated him to experiment with choreography and his interest in space and plasticity, akin to Gropius’ Architectonics, investigating space, form, colour, sound, movement and light.and Schlemmer’s interest in the geometry of the human form.

 

The “Triadic Ballet”, was in 3 acts, 3 performers, 12 dances and 18 costumes. Each act displaying a different colour and mood. Figurines of exaggerated headdresses and masks, padded torsos and outfits built with wire and concentric hoops, were to impede movement. The stage was an extension to the traditional proscenium arch/stage, similar to a fashion runway. This would influence contemporary fashion designers who drew heavily on this form of avant-garde installation/performance art. Geometric lines on the floor inhibits the movement to that of chess figures involved in an abstract game. The human body or face is obscured by sculptural costumes, rejecting expressionism and mimetic theatre conventions of the time. The choreography neutralises the performer to geometric motion. The performer is the unseen puppeteer, the operator of the figurines.

 

Mapping of figures in space “Figur und Raumlineatur” and “Egozentrische Raumlineatur” uses uncostumed figures to show the mathematical principles to measure space, treating space as abstract. These biograms show man as a combination of mechanic and organic components.

 

Contemporary choreographer, William Forsythe, coined the expression “choreographic object”, transposing dance from the stage into other manifestations, e.g. participatory installations. This fluidity of space has informed the idea of “liquid architecture” to overcome the ideas of static, fixed architecture to transform space.

 

Constructivism endeavours to to use analysis of the materials and forms for utilitarian purposes for a new society. Kandinsky’s spiritualism was at odds with this new approach, forcing him to leave Russia. His biomorphic shapes reverberated with Schlemmer’s choreographies, unlike Moholy-Nagy who would work directly with the new technology available.

 

Moholy-Nagy created the “Light Space Modulator”, a motorised sculpture of glass, mirror and steel was a kinetic installation which imagined light as performance art. Both art’s collaboration was complementary to their practice and are the pioneers of “Hybrid Art”.

 

Schlemmer’s “Hoop Dance” is similar to Moholy-Nagy’s “Light Space Modulator” film as a kinetographic study of movement through objects. William Forsythe’s interest in architectural notions of spaciality and choreography is often linked to the legacy of Rudolph Laban rather than early 20th Century Constructivism.

Dance – Documents of Contemporary Dance – (Edit) Andre Lepecki

Dance as a Practice of Contemporaneity – Andre Lepecki

 

Dance’s main qualities:

  1. Ephemerality
  2. Corporeality
  3. Precariousness
  4. Scoring
  5. Performativity

 

  1. Ephemerality Dance leaves no object behind after the performance, away from the commodification of tangible objects.
  2. Corporeality A dancer’s job is to embody, disembody and re-embody. Reconfiguring the body and proposing them impossible.
  3. Precariousness Ongoing interaction with forces. Performing the precariousness of life, globalisation of neoliberalism.
  4. Scoring Or choreographing, reveals the technology of scoring. Once enacted operates in a regime of obedience. Dance establishes a contact between choreographic planning and the actualisation of movement.
  5. Performativity Reproduction of choreography, non-metaphoric implementation of these preconditions, again and again despite its ephemerality.

 

 

 

Recently dance projects have been created by artists, not choreographers. For example, Nevin Aladag’s Dance Occupations where groups of non-dancers invade a space, dancing wildly to no music. Flashmob. Here there is no collaboration between visual art and dance, but this fusion is driven by a need for the arts to break away from neat divisions.

 

Dance as a metaphor emerges at the end of the 19th Century in an attempt to establish dance as an autonomous art. Away from the constraints of music, literature and symbolic gesture.

 

After WWII many artists links their practice to questions of freedom and participation. Experimentation opened up the body to new arenas, getting closer to problems linked to questions that are constitutive of dance and choreography.

 

At the beginning of the 1980s two forces combined to reignite the political and aesthetic capabilities of dance:

  1. The AIDS pandemic and its effects around issues of mortality, corporeality and and identity.
  2. Hip Hop’s hypervisual music video culture and beat laced with specific visuality and raciality. The global non-theatrical dance recaptured the social

 

Dressage (1992) – Henri Lefebvre

 

People gesticulate, usually the top half of the body but sometimes with the hips and legs. Each segment of the body has its rhythm. What is fully natural?

 

Gestures cannot be attributed to nature, they change according to societies and eras. These manners are acquired/learned.

 

Something passed as natural when it conforms without effort to accepted models. Distinguish between education, learning and training (dressage). To enter into a society is to accept its values, bend to its ways, dressage. Dressage is based on repetition to break-in people to perform a certain act. Repetition is ritualised in humans, rites.

 

Phases of dressage:

  • Linear Has a beginning signal, and an end.
  • Resumption of the Cycle Reprises Cycliques General organisation of time, therefore of society.

 

The military model has been imitated in western societies to preserve and extend this rhythm. Repetition is pushed to the point of automatism.

 

Rhythms are present in learning and training, as well as dressage, these must be united as are the organs of the body.

 

Some Reflective Surfaces 1 (1975) – Adrian Piper

 

“Aretha Franklin Catalyst” (1972)

Adrian’s interest in disco dance figures as a form of ritualised sexual and political confrontation. Also this type of dance was capable of expressing a whole spectrum of feelings that they have about their own bodies, because the  rhythms tend to be repetitive and transform while musically it is complex and densely textured. Disco makes possible a physical empathy with the music which requires coordination and rhythmic discrimination to achieve this. You have to actually dance to disco and not just behave. To succeed is to express one’s sexuality individually. In a sexually repressive culture this is to express deviance. Hence the racist/homophobic reaction to disco.

 

The expression of defiance and individuality is open to misinterpretation. For example, you want to be picked up.

 

“Some Reflective Surfaces” (1975)

Explores the gestural and political significance of disco on a number of levels:

  1. Mutual self-consciousness of the audience and performer as to the meaning of gestures.
  2. Self-reflection of the dancer on their movements and their meanings.
  3. Partial definition and appropriation of those meaning by others.
  4. Political unity.

 

Voluntary self-objectification can be an act of political defiance, a celebration of the self by exposing the hypocrisy of the disapprovers as an attempt to eradicate their own uncontrollable impulses.

 

Notes on Funk (1983) – Adrian Piper

 

Motivation for doing “Funk Lessons” was the ignorance and xenophobia of black working class culture since 1972. Deemed inappropriate for serious political topics, which is elitist and patronising.

 

“Funk Lessons” (1982-84) – Hand-out summary

  1. Relaxed back.
  2. Knees bent.
  3. Whole foot on floor.
  4. Isolation of body parts.
  5. Polyrhythmic.
  6. Unifying music with dance. Each kind of music has its own dance style.
  7. Personalistic. Individual self-expression.
  8. Self-transcendent. Become one with the music.
  9. Participatory and non-exhibitionistic. A communal event, not for a spectator audience.
  10. Socially functional. Integrated into daily life, not a special feat of accomplishment.
  11. Modular. Simple units of physical movement.
  12. Repetitive. Patterns repeated until they become second nature.
  13. Improvisational. Transforming extended patterns.

 

Global Breakdancing and the Intercultural Body (2002) – Halifu Osumare

 

Breakdancing takes place in an improvised circle. Each soloist demonstrates their skills while encoding gestural messages which usually comment on other dancer’s perceived lack of skill. These battles originally took place in opposing gangs, lined-up facing each other, usually to settle disputes. A creative dance alternative to gang violence allows it to claim a discursive basis as a particularised dance form of the signifying tradition prevalent in African-American popular culture.

 

This has become a global phenomenon during the current era of capitalism, going beyond the barriers of language. Global capital and evolving Hip Hop subculture exist as parallel, yet intertwined, forces in this increasing complex era.

 

Rest in Pieces: Scores, Notation and the Trance in Dance (2005) – Myriam Van Imschoot

 

Dance has not used the word score for a specific object. Also dance has not depended on copyright and distribution to publish these scores. Scores are working tools.
The English word “score” covers a far wider range of meanings than, for example, Partition in French. Lisa Nelson’s “Turning Scores” does not refer to a written score at all. It is more a case of learning and enacting the rules of a game. William Forsythe scribbled lines, arrows and numbers onto a book of sketches by Tiepolo, forming an enigmatic riddle that the dancers were free to interpret. This choreography-at-a-distance resulted in “Hypothetical Stream” (1996). These scores enter a whole range of possible implementations.

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.