Exactly one year has passed since my fanciful time travel presentation at Motus Humanus. One year to let thoughts that were emboldened by not being obliged to result in anything but momentary entertainment actually take root and start seeking the light.
I just re-read the transcript of that talk and still stand by what I said — the conceptual and practical developments that could make a difference in the presence and reputation of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) in the world.
So where are we now? What progress has been made? “Take action. Don’t wait for consensus,” I was told over and over again by various LMA colleagues after that talk. If anything, I would wish to help concretize a process for making change, so that at the very least, we would not be able to say that we were held back by lack of knowledge of *how* to move forward or lack of collaborative tools for doing so.
Here are a few of the digital developments of this past year:
- The Dance Notation Bureau launched its Motif Notation Online Course, coordinated by Charlotte Wile.
- Reed College released a beta version of its iPad-based KineScribe Motif writer. An excellent beginning, with a ways still to go.
- Integrated Movement Studies (a.k.a. the West Coast LMA certification program) moved to an experimental one-year program, with an upcoming online component.
- New LMA Wikipedia pages were added, instigated by Sandra Hooghwinkel and others.
- The online, open-access “Journal of Movement Arts Literacy” was launched by Teresa Heiland and others.
- A number of discussions on some of the most essential issues facing LMA today erupted and subsided on the mailing lists, with indeterminate resolutions.
Exciting stuff. And yet some of the fundamental issues remain, especially around standards and how they (and their variations) are documented. Once again, I challenge those of us who have the privilege of being able to explore and disseminate this system to grab hold of one piece of whatever it is that excites you about carrying it into the future, to a new generation, and run with it.
For my part, I am stepping up to take on these two pieces (and would love help)…
Standards Capture and Versioning
In my talk last year, I named two contexts in which standards needed to be established:
- The LMA framework itself
- Criteria for certification
At the moment, I’m most interested in the former. Specifically: how might we be able to articulate what LMA consists of?
For starters, I can think of the following categories:
- Terms/concepts and their symbols
- Motif grammar (and Motif-specific symbols)
- Labanotation grammar (and Labanotation-specific symbols)
- Space Harmony scales
- Hands-on interventions (for those programs with a hands-on, touch-based component)
Obviously, suggesting that LMA can be reduced down to lists of individual elements is rather ridiculous, but I think it can provide a starting point for deciding what is and what isn’t part of the system, single terms being easier to start bar fights over than complex, interwoven relationships.
I would love to brainstorm how best to capture the LMA lexicon, document it, and post it publicly. As mentioned previously, I’m leaning toward version control techniques inspired by software development.
And speaking of software, this brings me to my second interest…
Standard File Format for Movement Notation
This is way under-the-hood stuff, but we need a standard, universal file format for encoding movement notations, a universal medium of exchange that would allow any notation written by any program on any device to be read by any other program on any other device that supported the file format.
Innovators could then freely create tools on whatever platform they’re drawn to, knowing that the output of their programs could be read by anyone else. A small thing, but without it, any endeavor risks dying in isolation.
I (and whoever joins me) will undoubtedly look at MusicXML and other digital formats for inspiration.
There is so much more to be done, and so much room for guiding LMA down the river of these next few years. I hope you will follow your intrigue and your passion, and join me in creating a stable, sustainable, yet ever evolving place for LMA in the world.
And if my particular interests above appeal to you, please contact me directly or leave a comment. We’ll have fun!
P.S. Expect a new version of Moving Space for iOS to come out soon!