The Ballet.

During my recent drive to Grand Rapids, I was talking to Tim and a strange question arose:

How does one transcribe ballet?

In music, you use staff paper and notations for chords, melodies, and dynamics… but how do you write down the choreography for a ballet? These days there are videos and the like, but back in the days of yore… how’d they do it? Is it just a dictation of the action?

Dancer 1: pirouette, jump left, pirouette, stand on toes for 3 counts while moving arms in windmill like air guitar motion.

Or perhaps there is a shorthand?

Dancer 1: P, Jleft, P, toes3 + Airguitar

Or maybe it’s just a story with the moves left up to the dancer’s interpretation? (I would find this weak)

Plot: Janice expertly avoids the laser blasts and then suddenly finds a guitar upon which she proceeds to shred with angst and passion.

Well, I’m happy to report that my research has led me to a fascinating answer. Apparently there exists something called Dance Notation (wikipedia article here.) Wikipedia reports that the primary languages used are Labanotation, a notation method based off of Rudolf Laban’s “Laban movement analysis” and Benesh Movement Notation curiously designed by another Rudolf: Rudolf Benesh.

I’d love to interview someone who can read these notations. Anyone have any contacts that they would be willing to pass over to me?

2 thoughts on “The Ballet.

  • 11/2/2010 at 2:02 pm

    That is fascinating! I’m on the hunt for a translator.


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