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A Conversation with Lois Rathvon, Labanotation Reconstructor and Stager - Notable Notation
By Dean Speer and Francis Timlin - March 24, 2006
"So while I was at the University of Utah, I bought the Ann Hutchinson Guest Labanotation book, brought it back with me to try to figure out – which I couldn’t! In the meantime, we moved to New York, then to Los Angeles where I enrolled as a dance major at UCLA, after doing a modern dance audition. Little did they know my first passion was ballet!"
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The Value of Documenting Dance
By Francis Yeoh - June 2007
The regular lament expressed by commentators that the art form of dance has an ephemeral existence raises many issues that require consideration. This ontological instability of dance may very well be the reason why the art form has been marginalised in the field of aesthetics and copyright law. This phenomenon is reflected in the paucity of case law on dance copyright. The framers of copyright law, in most countries, have made fixation a prerequisite for copyright protection.
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De Keersmaeker, Adorno, and the Laban Cube: Improvisation and the Ballet
By Maria Technosux - 25 June 2003, ITs Festival, Amsterdam
Most people reading Ballet-Dance will be acquainted with Labanotation to some degree. Rudolf von Laban (of dance-expressionism fame) developed a notation-system with which to transcribe human movement of any sort. On first glance, I referred to Labanotation as a "programming-language", because I really did think that Labanotation could be used for digital avatars. Unfortunately in my interpretation I mixed up "notation" (readable description) with "script" (procedural action). Labanotation is primarily used to document a dance so that it is preserved for future reverence; one still needs a human interpreter to use the notated dance for educational purposes.
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Twyla Tharp Dance - 'Known by Heart Duet,' 'The Fugue,' 'Westerly Round,' and 'Surfer at the River Styx'
By Holly Messitt - August 6, 2003, Joyce Theater, New York
I have the highest respect for Twyla Tharp, for her innovation, for her concentrated focus on dance and dancers, and for her wide accomplishments throughout her distinguished career. Speaking many vernaculars, her work tends toward the fun, witty, and imaginative. Full of quick energy and fast, difficult footwork, it crosses borders between ballet, tap, modern dance, disco, Flamenco ... the list goes on. She is even currently working on formulating a notation method for dance that will enable the discipline to leave behind 'artifacts,' since she cites the lack of 'artifacts' as part of the reason that dance lags behind many of the other art forms economically and academically.
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Trusting Tudor: An Interview with Sally Brayley Bliss
By Dean Speer and Francis Timlin - July 2004
"We are very fortunate that Muriel Topaz (Dance Notation Bureau) went to Mr. Tudor to suggest he take steps to preserve his ballets. He took her advice and went to my husband, Tony Bliss (Anthony Bliss, who was the General Manager of the Met at that time), who was an attorne,y and he took his request to his firm (Millbank, Tuced, Hadley, & McCoy) and worked up an entire will. Tudor was first going to make my son the trustee but thought better of it as he realized he was not a dancer and thought it too much of a burden, so he made me the trustee instead! So, not only am I a trustee of the Tudor Trust for his ballets, I was also executor of his will."
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Kirov Ballet's 'Jewels' and 'Sleeping Beauty'
By Kevin Ng - June 25, 2000, London
The week commenced with the Kirov's 1890 version of "The Sleeping Beauty", which was premiered in St. Petersburg in April 1999 and was enthusiastically received in New York last summer during the company's tour. Makhar Vaziev engaged the Kirov ballet master and dancer Sergei Vikharev to reconstruct Petipa's original choreography as recorded by Nicholas Sergeyev, the regisseur of the Imperial Theatre, based on the Stepanov notation system.
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Bournonville at the BalletMet Dance Academy - An Interview with Kennet Oberly
By Jane Ashton Hawes - April 2005, Ballet Met Dance Academy Studios, Columbus, Ohio
Soon after began the short pilgrimages he would make on his own to Copenhagen, seeking out instruction in the style. Though never enrolled as a student at the Royal Danish Ballet School, Oberly connected with teachers like Hans Brenaa and he also was able to roam the Royal Theatre Library where scores and notations of Bournonville's ballets are stored. He has copies of 10 of these and has staged two – "The Fairy Tale of Pictures" and "The Conservatory" – for the Estonian National Ballet.
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National Ballet of Canada - John Cranko's 'Romeo & Juliet'
By Francis Timlin - October 12, 2001, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, BC
I was pleased to attend the performance in Vancouver on Saturday, September 29. This production was restaged for the National Ballet of Canada by former Aristic Director (and Vancouver native son) Reid Anderson, the current Artistic Director of the Stuttgart Ballet (a principal repository of John Cranko's choreography) and formerly a dancer with that company. Mr. Anderson worked from a Benesh Notation version produced in 1993 by Jane Bourne for this 1995 realization. The overall production values are superb, with sets and costumes designed by Susan Benson and lighting design by Robert Thomson. The production has a quality of luxury overshadowed by doom; perhaps this is the reason for the preponderance of sombre, autumnal colors (deep gold, orange, red, ochre, aubergine and brown) in the well-integrated set and costume design.
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Kirov Ballet - ''La Bayadère'
By Thea Nerissa Barnes - August 2, 2003, Covent Garden, London
”La Bayadère” performed by The Kirov Ballet is a reconstruction of Marius Petipa and Sergei Khudekov’s 1900 original libretto and Ludwig Minkus’ original score. The reconstruction team consisted of Sergei Vikharev (choreography), Mikhail Shishliannikov (sets and lighting design), Tatiana Noginova (costumes), and Ludmilla Sveshnikova (music preparation). The reconstruction process benefited from several archival sources. Minkus’ original handwritten score is stored in the Mariinsky Theatre Music Library. Régisseur Nikolai Sergeyev’s Stepanov notation and manuscript répétiteurs provided details regarding dance combinations, entrances, exits and the pantomime synchronised with musical text. Sets and costume designs were archived on canvases, sketches, photographs, and blueprints. Pyotr Lambin’s model for Solor’s dream and The Kingdom of the Shades was stored at St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music. St. Petersburg State Theatre Library was the source for Evgeny Ponomarev sketches of costumes.
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Robert Altman's 'The Company' - Fleeting Events in a Dancer's World
By Leland Windreich - January 2004
There are several energetic ensembles and erotic pas de deux from the rep and a few new ones created for the film. Only one episode depicts the dancers responding to the challenge of a classical variation -- an excerpt from the Pas de Six from "La Vivandiere," restored for the company from the 1844 notation of its original choreographer, Arthur Saint-Leon. This, the only item on display in the film to show a ballerina in a tutu, celebrated the brilliant, furious footwork of the terre-a-terre dancing of an era long before ballet became a vehicle for unitard-clad females manipulated in overhead lifts and coital entanglements. It is this more recent era that Campbell extols and that Altman celebrates.
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It's Time - Pacific Northwest Ballet's 'Balanchine's Petipa' Lecture/Demonstration
By Dean Speer - October 5, 2007, PNB Studios, Seattle, Washington
Recording and notating dance – and its reconstruction – is a labor- and time-intensive process. If you think in musical terms of how a composer has to write down a note one at a time, and how long that takes, you’ll appreciate what is required to record dances by hand. Then there’s the reading of these scores and the time it takes to interpret and teach the movement, steps, and patterns to eager dancers.
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