This research was supported by a scholarship from the Hungarian National Research, Development, and Innovation Office NKFIH (project no. K 124270).
The research lead by Judy van Zile (reported by Bartenieff et al.) and Csilla Könczei’s investigations represent rare exceptions. To record dynamics and quality of movement, Van Zile’s research team applied the Laban Movement Analysis based on Laban’s Effort Theory to a southwest Indian classical dance; see Irmgard BARTENIEFF et al., “The Potential of Movement Analysis as a Research Tool: A Preliminary Analysis,” Dance Research Journal 16/1 (Spring 1984), 3–26; Rudolf LABAN and F. C. LAWRENCE, Effort (London: Macdonald and Evans, 1947). The semiotics-influenced investigations by Könczei pointed out corresponding spatial and dynamic transformation rules of contrasting performances in a ritual dance. See Csilla KÖNCZEI, “Principles of Creation in the Borica Dance,” in ead., Táncelméleti írások/Writings in Dance Theory (Cluj: Editura Fundaţiei pentru Studii Europene, 2007), 117–118. This paper was originally published in 1989, in Hungarian.
Anca GIURCHESCU and Eva KRÖSCHLOVA, “Theory and Method of Dance Form Analysis,” in Dance Structures: Perspectives on the Analysis of Human Movement, ed. by Adrienne L. KAEPLER and Elsie Ivancich DUNIN (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 2007), 28 (= Studies in Ethnology, vol. 3).
European and American methods are discussed below.
György Martin understood “content” as “meaning,” while Lujza Ratkó interpreted it as “a traditional principle formulated in the symbolic language of movements.” Roselyn Stone’s approach appears to be related to the understanding discussed in this paper; she regards “content” and “recognized relatedness” similarly. See György MARTIN, “A néptáncok elemzése és rendszerezése” [Analysis and classification of folk dances], in Népzene, néptánc, népi játék, ed. by Mihály HOPPÁL (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990), 190; Lujza RATKÓ, “A néptánc tartalmi elemzése” [Content analysis of traditional dance], in A nyíregyházi Jósa András Múzeum Évkönyve, ed. by Péter NÉMETH (Nyíregyháza: Jósa András Múzeum, 2002), 259; Roselyn E. STONE, “Human Movement Forms as Meaning-Structures: Prolegomenon,” The Quest 23 (1975), 10.
Rudolf LABAN, Choreographie (Jena: Eugen Dietrich, 1926), 3.
In the 1970s, several researchers investigated the subject of the meaning of human movement – only two are mentioned here. In the field of dance, Valéria Dienes approached symbolics, the spiritual dimension, through the meaning of movement formulated by physical factors of space, time, and dynamics. See Valéria DIENES, “A szimbolika főbb problémái” [The main problems of symbolics], Táncművészeti Értesítő 1 (1974), 63–69. From her semasiological point of view, Drid Williams regarded the human movement as a structured system of meanings. See Drid WILLIAMS, “Human Action Sign and Semasiology,” in Dance Research Collage: A Variety of Subjects Embracing the Abstract and the Practical, ed. by Patricia A. ROWE and Ernestine STODELLE (New York: Congress on Research in Dance, 1979), 39.
Olga SZENTPÁL, “Versuch einer Formanalyse der Ungarischen Volkstänze,” Acta Ethnographica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 7/3–4 (1958), 259. She did not mention specifically, how and in which respect.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Olga Szentpál, in collaboration with her husband, art historian Máriusz Rabinovszky, developed a highly elaborated dance analysis and system of pedagogy, called the taxonomy (or doctrine) of the Szentpál School. They were the first in Hungary to introduce the use of Laban kinetography as a research tool and educational framework. The exercises of Szentpál’s taxonomy and training were notated in great detail, but remain unpublished until today. For further discussion of this topic, see János FÜGEDI and Lívia FUCHS, “Doctrines and Laban Kinetography in a Hungarian Modern Dance School in the 1930s,” Journal of Movement Arts Literacy 3/1 (2016), 1–26.
SZENTPÁL, “Versuch,” 265.
“Zwei-, drei-oder mehrgliedrig nennen wir das Motiv nach der Anzahl der in ihm enthaltenen, einander folgenden Bewegungen.” Ibid., 265.
For the sake of readability, all kinetographic notation examples from different sources are re-edited with the LabanGraph application. See János FÜGEDI, “LabanGraph: A Computer Editor for the Laban System of Notation,” in Proceedings of the Thirtieth Biennial Conference of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, ed. by Marion BASTIEN, Thomas Townsend BROWN and János FÜGEDI (s.l.: International Council of Kinetography Laban, 2019), 173–183. To follow the change of orthography since the cited papers were published, new symbol usages replace old ones according to the contemporary versions of kinetography as proposed by Albrecht Knust and Ann Hutchinson Guest. See Albrecht KNUST, Dictionary of Kinetography Laban, 2 vols (Plymouth: Macdonald and Evans, 1979); Ann HUTCHINSON GUEST, Labanotation: The System of Analyzing and Recording Movement (London: Routledge, 2005). For easier recognition, the notation of contacting gestures follows the recommendations by János Fügedi and Gábor Misi. See János FÜGEDI and Gábor MISI, “Ways of Notating Floor Touching Gestures with the Foot,” in Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Biennial Conference of the International Council of Kinetography Laban (s.l.: International Council of Kinetography Laban, 2009), 43–60. None of the adjustments change the movement contents published originally.
The first beat of Figure 1, the first and second beats of Figure 3, the second beat of Figure 4, the first and second beats of Figure 5, the third and fourth beats of Figure 6, the third beat of measure 1 and the first beat of measure 2 of Figure 7.
György MARTIN and Ernő PESOVÁR, “A Structural Analysis of the Hungarian Folk Dance: A Methodological Sketch,” Acta Ethnographica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 10/1–2 (1961), 3.
Their textual description does not exactly match the kinetographic notation in their paper. Figure 8 corresponds to Martin and Pesovár’s motif no. 3, which can be found in dance no. 1 which they published. See ibid., 28.
György MARTIN, Motívumkutatás, motívumrendszerezés: A sárközi–dunamenti táncok motívumkincse [Motif research, motif classification: The motif repertoire of the dances from the Sárköz and Danube region] (Budapest: Népművelési Intézet, 1964).
Zsigmond KARSAI and György MARTIN, Lőrincréve táncélete és táncai [Dance life and dances in Lőrincréve] (Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézet, 1989); György MARTIN, Mátyás István ‘Mundruc’: Egy kalotaszegi táncos egyéniségvizsgálata [István Mátyás ‘Mundruc’: An individual-centered investigation of a Kalotaszeg dancer] (Budapest: Planétás, 2004).
GIURCHESCU and KRÖSCHLOVA, “Theory,” 25.
No reference or further explanation of this statement was provided.
Grażyna Dabrowska and Kurt Petermann’s paper addressing the same subject is not mentioned here because its content is reflected in the paper cited above, GIURCHESCU and KRÖSCHLOVA, “Theory.” See Grażyna DABROWSKA and Kurt PETERMANN, “Grundlagen der Struktur- und Formanalyse des Volkstanzes,” in Analyse und Klassifikation von Volkstänzen, ed. by eid. (Krakow: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczen, 1983), 9–31.
GIURCHESCU and KRÖSCHLOVA, “Theory,” 29.
Ibid., 42–43. Direct correspondence of notation and the element identification is only added here, as deducted from the paper.
Adrienne L. KAEPLER, “Method and Theory in Analyzing Dance Structure with an Analysis of Tongan Dance,” Ethnomusicology 16/2 (May 1972), 215. She identified her theoretical background as “post-Bloomfieldean linguistics.”
MARTIN and PESOVÁR, “A Structural Analysis,” 4.
The terms “allokine,” “kineme,” and “kinemorph” were introduced by Ray Birdwhistell in his early report on presenting possible new directions of interpreting human movements as structural units that correspond morphologically to concepts of allophone, phoneme, and morpheme established in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century linguistics. See Ray L. BIRDWHISTELL, Introduction to Kinesics: An Annotation System for Analysis of Body Motion and Gesture (Washington, D.C.: Department of Foreign Service Institute, 1952), 22.
Adrienne L. KAEPLER, “Method and Theory in Analyzing Dance Structure with an Analysis of Tongan Dance,” in KAEPLER and DUNIN (eds.), Dance Structures, 53.
KAEPLER, “Method (1972),” 174. The unambiguous definition of both “meaning” and “position” is missing. “Meaning” is bound to be “understood as movements” by dancers (see ibid., 185), while a kineme (such as a step forward, L1) is not. The term “position” appears several times in the text, but in different contexts: as the identification of a double support; a reference to kneeling or sitting; the positions of the fingers; the positions of the arm, or as an element of morphokines, a kineme itself (ibid., 178–185). In this respect, the question arises how a position can be referred to as a kineme when the meaning of the word kineme is a unit of movement, while a position is generally understood as a state of body constellation; in other words, non-movement.
Ibid., 178. In the absence of a movement analytical framework, none of the terms “forward,” “closed,” and “open” position, and “low level” can be understood clearly, only in a general sense. The terms resemble those of Kinetography Laban (or Labanotation), but – as discussed in footnote 56 – Kaepler understands the movement reference differently compared to the aforementioned dance notation system.
Drid WILLIAMS, “Deep Structures of the Dance 2: Constituent Syntagmatic Analysis,” Journal of Human Movement Studies 2/3 (1976), 171.
WILLIAMS, “Human Action Sign,” 50.
Williams did not indicate the source of the notation. The same two measures (with an added third) were published in Nelson Goodman’s Languages of Art. Of its several editions and reprintings, see, for example, Nelson GOODMAN, Languages of Art (Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company, 1981), 125. The notation stems from the Archives of Notated Theatrical Dances of the Dance Notation Bureau, New York.
The whole or a section of the notation on page 46 of Williams’s “Human Action Sign” is repeated on pages 50, 52, and 53: each differing from page 46. The repetitions sometimes include nonsense indications, such as front signs instead of the palm surface, white pins instead of front signs, the sign of the head instead of the indication of back to normal. Figure 10 here presents a reproduction of the notation on page 46, which seems correct from the viewpoint of Labanotation orthography.
Without a preliminary posture of the body as a starting position, beat one can hardly be investigated as “transformation,” because its representation as “change” cannot be defined.
Even if an analysis contains kinetography, the applied dialect needs to be identified. The two dialects, the European, usually called “Kinetography Laban,” and the US-based system, called “Labanotation,” may differ in certain significant points of reference, such as space hold or body hold, whether a body part carries along another one, or the calculation of rotations. The textual explanations of movement content in the cited papers could not be interpreted due to a lack of an established understanding of the meaning of the applied expressions.
Olga SZENTPÁL, “A magyar néptánc formai elemzése” [Form analysis of Hungarian traditional dance], Ethnographia 72/1 (1961), 5.
This refers to a “part” in polyphonic music. To distinguish between the understanding of the word “part” in a musical sense and as related to the body part (a section of a limb), its italicized version part is used in this paper, representing a sequence of movements running parallel with, and discussed independently from, other sequences.
Szentpál mentions only in the Hungarian version of her paper that the movements of paired body parts (arms and legs) are regarded as one part, even if their movements are different. See SZENTPÁL, “A magyar néptánc,” 9, footnote 20.
IFMC Study Group for Folk Dance Terminology, “Foundations for the Analysis of the Structure and Form of Folk Dance: A Syllabus,” Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council 6 (1974), 127.
GIURCHESCU and KRÖSCHLOVA, “Theory,” 24.
BARTENIEFF et al., “The Potential.”
Discussing the morpho-syncretic aspects of expressivity, Andrei Bucşan also discussed the strongly varied kinetic structure of Romanian dances as generally ruled by “heterokinetism” and “polykinetism.” See Andrei BUCŞAN, Modes of Expression in Roumanian Folk Dance. Expressive Traits in Roumanian Folk Dance (Trondheim: Radet for folkemusikk og folkedans, Rff-sentre, 1999), 26. The terms, unfortunately, were not clearly defined, therefore his concept cannot be compared to others.
An exception is László Kürti, who understands the notion of polykinetics differently: not as synchronic but diachronic kinetic elements of a sequence. He states that a single step Labanotated in his paper consists of three kinetic elements, which form a higher polykinetic unit, called “cell.” See László KÜRTI, “Hungarian Dance Structures: A Linguistic Approach,” Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 1/1 (Spring 1980), 50.
WILLIAMS, “Human Action Sign,” 52.
Most of them were already published; their archive or publication references are provided in the Index of Motifs at the end of this article. A beat of a measure corresponds to a quarter, except if indicated otherwise and re-evaluated as eighths. The names of dances listed in the Index of Motifs convey information regarding the approximate tempo.
The dialect of the notation system applied here is that of Albrecht Knust and Mária Szentpál, with some added notions by the present author. See KNUST, Dictionary; Mária SZENTPÁL, Táncjelírás: Lábán kinetográfia [Dance notation: Kinetography Laban], 3 vols (Budapest: Népművelési Propaganda Iroda, [1976–1979]); János FÜGEDI, Tánc – Jel – Írás: A néptáncok lejegyzése Lábán-kinetográfiával: Szóló- és körformák (Budapest: L’Harmattan / MTA Zenetudományi Intézet, 2011); id., Basics of Laban Kinetography for Traditional Dancers (Budapest: Institute for Musicology RCH HAS, 2016).
Ivan IVANČAN, “Index von Tanzmotiven von Kolo-tänzen in Slawonien und Baranya,” in Analyse und Klassifikation von Volkstänzen: Klassifikationsprobleme der europäischen Volkstänze mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Reigen- und Solotänze, ed. by Grażyna DABROWSKA and Kurt PETERMANN (Krakow: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczen, 1983), 61.
The harmonic cooperation of the participating three joints – the hip, knee, and ankle – is condensed into the notion of the leg’s flexion and extension. The analysis here is not intended to comprehensively detail the movement anatomy. The focus is the expressive content of the movement, rather than the manner in which it was created physically and anatomically. If the body is supported on legs, the flexion and extension correspond to the change of support level. The two events with the same physical result are used here interchangeably.
Nancy Frishberg draws attention to simultaneously realized aspects of the American Sign Language, called “parameters,” as implications for establishing a successful notational set for ASL. See Nancy FRISHBERG, “Writing Systems and Problems for Sign Language Notation,” Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 2/4 (Autumn 1983), 171. However, her remark refers to static hand shapes accompanying a prescribed movement, and not to the process of changing shapes.
Types of springs according to the vertical change of the center of weight are discussed in my paper. See János FÜGEDI, “Springs in Traditional Dance: An Analysis and Classification,” Studia Musicologica 40/1–3 (1999), 185–187. Here I introduced a minor change in the system of indication. Formerly, the small arrow represented only the fact of the change of support levels and always pointed upwards. Reconstruction practice called attention to the upward-pointing arrows for different movement directions of the center of weight which confused recognition; therefore, now the direction of the arrow (pointing upwards or downwards) represents the direction of the change of support level.
From this respect, attention is called to Kaepler’s approach, which is different from the movement analytical concept of kinetography. Kaepler subdivides her step kinemes L1, L2, L3 into “regular” and “place.” See KAEPLER, “Method (1972),” 178. (She distinguishes L1 as forward and L2 as backward, but L3, which represents any sideward step, is not distinguished by the left or right direction. This interpretation binds the side of the body to a direction, that is, no kineme can describe a crossing step, e.g. a step to the left with the right leg.) Kaepler’s republished paper with Labanotation highlights that her view does not distinguish between taking support and making contact with the floor; that is, a contact with the right leg is identified as kineme L3b as a step by the same leg to the same place. See KAEPLER, “Method (2007),” 79. The main movement analytical (and implicitly, structural and expressive) difference is that in the case of a contact there is no transference of weight from one leg to the other, while a step represents a complete transference of weight. Consequently, Kaepler’s view supports the same “kinematic” way as gestures when she takes into consideration the direction of motion, that is, the vector of the moving body part. In this respect, she follows Laban’s notation concept published in Choreographie (see, for example, LABAN, Choreographie, 50–53). Laban abandoned this approach when kinetography was developed.
The importance of the change of vertical level was stressed several times, primarily by Norwegian ethnochoreologists Egil Bakka and Jan-Petter Bloom. See Egil BAKKA, “Analysis of Traditional Dance in Norway and the Nordic Countries,” in KAEPLER and DUNIN (eds.), Dance Structures, 108; Jan-Petter BLOM, “Structure and Meaning in a Norwegian Couple Dance,” Studia Musicologica 33/1–4 (1991), 423.
A turn may be regarded a movement concept similar to limb rotation, now related to the whole body.
Even if a heel drop can be isolated as a movement of the ankle, the elevation of the body (the extension of supporting legs) involves all three joints: the hip, the knee, and the ankle.
A relatively insignificant particle of meaning (see BIRDWHISTELL, Introduction, 6), or “variations, which do not change differential meaning” (ibid., Addendum). Here, it can be understood as a change that does not influence the movement content significantly.
The notion of simultaneous events is distinct from another linguistic concept, the suprasegmentals of phonemes as proposed by Jakobson and Halle. See Roman JAKOBSON and Morris HALLE, “Phonology in Relation to Phonetics,” in Manual of Phonetics, ed. by Bertil MALMBERG (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1968), 411–449. A component of different simultaneous events can be performed alone and can constitute the movement itself, or the movement can be composed of several equivalent events simultaneously. A suprasegmental is not an independent, distinct segment.
KARSAI and MARTIN, Lőrincréve.
Originally, Martin used the term “motif root.” The notion of “root” is borrowed from linguistics, where it refers to the most basic meaning of a word (see ibid., 81). The term was first introduced in his book on motif classification in the sense of “morpheme.” See MARTIN, Motívumkutatás, 72.
KARSAI and MARTIN, Lőrincréve, 76.
Beyond the dilemma discussed, Martin’s decision represents another theoretical change in his attitude towards analysis. With this step towards classification, Martin departed from his earlier position that the main principle of motif classification was the support structure, and he thereby shifted towards a vector approach.
The term theme is introduced, for lack of a better expression, to differentiate it from other usages such as motif-cell (cf. GIURCHESCU and KRÖSCHLOVA, “Theory,” 29) or morphokine (cf. KAEPLER, “Method ,” 174) as it has independent, recognizable, and recurring content. Giurchescu uses the same term but, it seems, interchangeably with the expressions “motif” and “phrase.” See Anca GIURCHESCU, “The Process of Improvisation in Folk Dance,” in Dance Studies 7, ed. by Roderyk LANGE (Jersey: Centre for Dance Studies, 1983), 33. Here the term is detached from the understanding of motif, especially because – as it will be discussed in the following sections – a motif may include different parallel running themes. It should also be noted that musicology applies the term theme differently, referring to longer musical phrases. See William DRABKIN, “Theme,” Grove Music Online (2001), <doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.27789> (accessed 15 September 2018).
The notation method is called DBP (Direction-from-Body-Part indications). See Ann HUTCHINSON GUEST and Joukje KOLFF, Floorwork, Basic Acrobatics (London: Dance Books, 2003), 42–57. The use of DBP highlights the theoretical difference between the notation of support and gesture movements in kinetography. For most support movements, kinetography applies the motion analysis, that is, it denotes the actual direction (“vector”) of displacement. However, for most gestural movements, the destination analysis (the definition of the arrival points of limbs) is used. In DBP, gesturing displacements are viewed as “vectors;” when the movement content is explained, the motion analysis is taken into consideration.
The theory was first presented by myself at the 2006 symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology in Cluj. See János FÜGEDI, “Motivic Microstructures and Movement Concepts of Expression in Traditional Dances,” in From Field to Text & Dance and Space: Proceedings of the 24th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology, ed. by Elsie Ivancich DUNIN, Anca GUIRCHESCU and Csilla KÖNCZEI (Cluj-Napoca: ISPMN / ICTM, 2012), 43–46.
Such as identical, lateral symmetrical, sagittal symmetrical, oppositional, and so forth. See HUTCHINSON GUEST, Labanotation, 303–318.
The notation in Figure 40 represents rotation explicitly only when the rotation symbol is attached to a place low direction sign. Rotations of the gesturing leg can be recognized from the separated directions of the thigh and the lower leg.
John BLACKING, “Movement, Dance, Music, and the Venda Girls’ Initiation Cycle,” in Society and the Dance: The Social Anthropology of Process and Performance, ed. by Paul SPENCER (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 74.
BUCŞAN, Modes, 6.
BARTENIEFF et al., “The Potential,” 9.
KÖNCZEI, “Principles of Creation,” 118.
Zoltán KARÁCSONY, “The Motifs of the Legényes of a Dancer from Bogártelke,” in KAEPLER and DUNIN (eds.), Dance Structures, 177.
LABAN, Choreographie, 43–46.
KARSAI and MARTIN, Lőrincréve; MARTIN, Mátyás István ‘Mundruc’; KARÁCSONY, “The Motifs of the Legényes.”
The relation of movement structures to the metrical system of the accompanying music is considered an important aspect of dance analysis. Martin and Pesovár state: “The structural analysis of the dances will necessarily yield a picture of the succession, the relationship of the major units, their connection with the musical units, of their temporal and kinetic relations. … Our structural formulas will be based upon the musical units, this being the only way of representing satisfactorily the interrelation between dance and music.” See MARTIN and PESOVÁR, “A Structural Analysis,” 11.
Beat values in Figures 47–51 are eighths. It is indicated only in Figure 47.
MARTIN, Mátyás István ‘Mundruc,’ 282.
Vera PROCA CIORTEA, “The Cǎluş Custom in Rumania, Tradition – Change – Creativity,” in Dance Studies 3, ed. by Roderyk LANGE (Jersey: Centre for Dance Studies, 1979), 19. The original publication does not include a re-evaluation of the beat. The accompanying music was notated in 2/4, the dance in 4/4. Here the music is followed for the rhythm of dance movements.
The unit of beats is an eighth for Figures 48–51; it is indicated only in Figure 47.
As different parts of the foot may contact, the part of the foot is not specified.
BLACKING, “Movement,” 71.
MARTIN, Motívumkutatás, 21–34.
In the process of establishing a coherent system of motifs, Könczei has raised the problem of a comparatively free interpretation by the researcher: “But the greatest difficulty was that in some cases we could not decide whether to consider some motifs as related to each other formally, or not. The most unpleasant was the realization of the fact that the decision was completely dependent on our will.” KÖNCZEI, “Principles of Creation,” 115.
Rudolf LABAN, Gymnastik und Tanz (Oldenburg: Gerhardt Stalling, 1926), 159.