Just as a staff is used in music, Labanotation also makes use of a staff on which the movements are noted (Figure 1). The notation is read from bottom to top.
The staff is divided into columns. Each column holds the symbols that describe the movements of a particular body part. The directions for the left part of the body are left of the middle line, and right of the middle line for the right part. A left-right division is obviously pointless for the torso and the head. The parts of the torso are noted partly to the left and partly to the right of the middle line.
Figure 2 shows the column division of a standard staff. The weight-bearing supports are put in the columns next to the middle line. From them we can read the transference of the body’s centre of gravity; if the point of support moves forward, then the body will also move in that direction. Most of the time the points of support are the feet. But the mover may also use other body parts such as the knees, hands or parts of the torso as a support. In these cases, a special symbol is used to indicate that the mover is not supporting himself or herself with his or her feet but with another body part.
If one wants to add more details then additional columns are added to the staff. In this way, the movements of the upper and lower arm, for example, can be noted separately, or the movements of the hands can be added.