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about labanotation: determination of position

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In most cases, the Standard Coordinate System is used to describe the movement of a body part. This coordinate system is linked to the mover. Directions above and below are determined by gravity. The forward direction is usually taken as the direction that the mover intuitively experiences as forwards. From here the other directions can be derived: backwards, left and right.

The central point from which the direction is assessed is called ‘place’ and is represented by a rectangle.

About labanotation: The "place" symbol.
Figure 3: The "place" symbol.

The directions in the horizontal plane are set at intervals 45° apart using the symbols shown in Figure 4.

About labanotation: the horizontal directions.
Figure 4: The symbols that describe the directions in the horizontal plane.

The vertical direction is added to these symbols by shading them differently. Here standard increments of 45° are also used (figure 5). To indicate a downward direction the symbols are shaded in black. For the upward direction striped shading is used. Directions that are vertically at the same height as ‘place’ are said to be located at middle level. This is indicated with a point in the symbol.

About labanotation: the vertical directions.
Figure 5: The symbols that describe the directions in the frontal plane (on the right side).

Figure 6 shows some arm gestures, along with the symbols that describe them.

About labanotation: Examples of arm gestures with the symbols 
									that describe them.
Figure 6: Examples of arm gestures with the symbols that describe them. (drawing: Merle erl Idris Ghyssaert)

The vertical direction of support is determined in a different manner. Here one speaks of the middle level when the whole foot stands on the floor and the knees are straight (figure 7a). The level is low if the knees are bent (figure. 7b). The vertical direction is called high if the mover stands on the tips of the toes with stretched legs (figure 7c).

About labanotation: The vertical levels of support: middle, low and high.
Figure 7: The vertical levels of support: middle, low and high. (drawing: Merle erl Idris Ghyssaert)

an example

By now placing the directions in the column that corresponds to the correct body part, positions and movements can be described. The dancer in figure 8 is standing on the tip of his outstretched right leg. We can see this in the shaded ‘place high’ symbol in the right support column. The left leg points towards the left low direction as can be seen in the gesture column for that leg. The left arm is also pointed to left low, the right arm to right high.

About labanotation: A dance position and its description in Labanotation.
Figure 8: A dance position and its description in Labanotation. (drawing: Merle erl Idris Ghyssaert)