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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Kummel, Herbert
Dance literacy: [toward a literacy of dance: have you read any good ballets lately?],   pp. 236-241 PDF (5.5 MB)


Page [238]


the short period of time it took the choreog-
rapher to teach the work to dancers who had
not previously seen the work. The transition
from draft to finished score took additional
weeks, and the final orthography, the
hand drawing of the symbols in ink, was
another time-consuming process. Yet within
four years, over 125 works were notated and
added to the library collection.
The Bureau interested IBM in the problems of
orthography, and two years ago, the Bureau
and IBM jointly developed the Labanotation
element for the IBM Selectric typewriter.
The hand scribe has begun to give way to the
printing press and twentieth century
technology.
Five years ago, the Bureau undertook its first
pilot project on the use of video for the docu-
mentation of dance. It approached visual
recording with the same concern that charac-
terized its use of graphics-specifically, how
must we utilize the medium to enable the
restaging of a work a hundred years from
now, and not merely as an aide-memoire?
The obvious first step-for the Bureau (not for
the untrained video fanatics)-was to use a
trained observer, as a notator, to view the
work during rehearsals and performance.
That notator prepared a "blueprint" of the
work, a shooting script, which indicated floor
plans and delineated where each camera must
be at which moment. Some material must be
in slow motion, some in close-up, plus com-
plete recordings from overhead and head-on,
etc. With this detailed information, the equip-
ment was hung, the stage marked off, and the
dancers dressed in appropriate color. The
actual taping was the smallest part. What is
finally produced is a series of synchronized
tapes, keyed to footnotes and a graphic score
outline. The master tape (the Ballet Master's
version) contains two views of the dance,
plus three audio tracks containing the musical
accompaniment, the lighting cues, and the
choreographer's own comments. Other tapes
are available for corps' parts or soloists' roles,
This system of recording is useful for even
the largest company of dancers, not merely
for the small concert group.
Labanotation Kinetography.
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