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The written language of dance

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The written language of dance



Benesh notation is the written language of dance. Rather than show the movements the individual positions are written down and the dancer then moves between them. With a full set of notation written out in this way a ballet could be performed by a company who had never seen it before. Over the next few pages we'll show you eight photographs from Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of La Fille mal gardée with the benesh notation for each pose so you can see how it works.

1. Here you can see the first example which denotes the pose in the photo to the right:
As there is only one dancer here only one stave is used. The 'tadpole' shape to the left of the page indicates that this is the female dancer while the similar shape below the lines indicate the direction in which her body is facing. This part is always drawn as if you were standing above her with the audience at the top of the page. On the stave the longer line represents the dancers body while the four small dashes indicate her hands and feet. The position is always drawn as if you are standing behind the dancers at the back of the stage. Of the five red lines of the stave the middle one marks the waist of the dancer. As in this case one foot is raised above this line a diagonal mark is made through it so it does not get mixed up with the hand!

Continue to page two of eight.
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