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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 237


toward a literacy of dance:
have you read any good ballets latel ?
Seven years ago-and appreciate the relative
currency of the developments-the Ford Foun-
dation and the National Endowment recog-
nized the degree of acceptance of the Laba-
notation system (over ninety-six colleges and
professional training schools include Labano-
tation as a professional requirement) and gave
the Bureau funds to enlarge its role from that
of a membership association to that of a
major service organization. The key functions
of the Bureau then became:
1, To develop a Library of Dance Scores with
the best available methods of documenta-
tion, and the primary goal being that of
achieving practicality for eventual
reconstructions.
2. To develop all the tools of documentation,
graphic, visual, mechanical, and those new
techniques which remain unseen beyond
the next corner; and to be a laboratory,
library and practical workshop in assessing
the merits of new ideas.
3. To provide the training programs necessary
to produce the necessary staff and the
teacher beyond the Bureau to link it to the
professional educator, and to provide the
teaching material for the development of
the art.
4. To provide to choreographers a means of
ensuring the durability of their artistic
estate beyond their lifetimes for the benefit
of their heirs and the general dance com-
munity; and to pioneer the development of
the proper legal and administrative instru-
ments in order to preserve and safeguard
their artistic contributions.
From that point on the growth of dance liter-
acy and the associated technology has been
explosive. Part of the excitement has come
from the fact that the developments were not
the result of isolated scholarship, but rather
were due to the pressure of a growing nation-
al interest in dance and the burgeoning of
performing companies in many communities
and states. Companies were being estab-
lished to provide to the communities involved
an instrument for dance expression, and they
were headed by responsible boards and
administrators, who naturally sought a full
range of repertoire to meet the varying
audiences.
The Accomplishment
Over the Past Seven Years
Initially, the ability to produce a complete
score developed most slowly, with all the
obvious patience and deliberate speed of the
medieval scribe and illuminator. As new
notators were trained a degree of fluency
was developed. A score that might have taken
three years to produce was now drafted in
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