Dance notation and software


Here are some links to notation information and software, courtesy of Christian Griesbeck

Shawn E. Koppenhoefer is colecting links on dancenatation:

The Ohio State University Department of Dance has on its LabanWriter page some links on dancenatation: (OSU Department of Dance) (LabanWriter)

I am writing a introduction to Labanotation (as part of my computer choreography/Choreology Project): (english in construction) (german finshed)

A comment from Frances Grimble .

One other thing about dance notation--I recommend always writing dance descriptions as if they were for someone else, even if you are sure that you are the only person in the world who will ever read them. Because if you go back to your old notes a few weeks later (let alone months or years later) you will be reading them almost like a different person. If you write just for yourself, you may have no idea what you meant in places, even though you knew at the time.

I don't think there is any notation (except full written descriptions or videos) that is perfect for all dance forms. I prefer written descriptions because they require a lot less equipment than videos. Also because, when I research period films, it takes a _long_ time to record what is on a few minutes of film. You have to go through the film frame by frame several times.

The modern ballroom notation people have mentioned would not work for the vintage ballroom dances I do, because the figures and terms for those are not standardized, nor are they the same as in modern balroom. Also there is a lot of variety in holds and body positions. 18th-century dance had a special notation called Feuillet notation. This notation is visually elegant, clearly conveys the footwork and figures for social dances of that period, and is useless for anything else.


Craig Hutchinson's notation

in Swing Dancer.

This is pretty much geared to swing dancing, so there is no concept of line-of-dance. It involves a good 300 terms for movements, holds, foot positions.


Labanotation is very good for showing steps, directions, duration of steps, how to use the foot, shifting weight, etc. Read the following file in the Dancers' Archive: .

Labanotation now has two "dialects" which arose starting during the Second World War. They are Labanotation as used in the Western Hemisphere and Great Britain, and Kinetography-Laban, as used in the rest of Europe. ICKL, the International Council on Kinetography Laban, has regular meetings to deal with new developments and also to attempt to re-merge the two forms. (No success so far, but a great spectator sport!) This is all OTTOMH and probably none too accurate...

Twenty - thirty years ago every major ballet company was looking for or at least considering a staff choreologist. Nowadays with cheap and readily available video technology, I am not sure there is still a market. It is not an easy task to master Labanotation. Find out the demand before you spend a year mastering a skill nobody wants. [sipowitz]

I am a certified Laban Notator. I took the Dance Notation Course (a 1/2 year course) at York University Toronto (Dance Program). I found this notation very simple while others in my same course found it very difficult. Because of my uncommon ease with this notation, I wrote the certification exam directly from the Laban Foundation and passed with a score of 99%. I became a certified notator.

I have to agree with sipowitz, that this seems to be an art/skill of the past that has little use in this day and age with the ease and accessibility of video. However, please check into it before taking my word. If there is a demand for notators in this day and age, I am not aware of it. [Josie Neglia]

That said, if you really want to learn Laban, check the following resources:

The Language of Dance Centre
17 Holland Park
London W11 3TD

Dance Notation Bureau
31-33 W. 21st St., 3rd floor
New York, NY 10010


Toni' Intravaia, Treasurer, USA
201 Hewitt
Carbondale, IL 62901

Ann Kipling Brown, Chairman
705 Galbraith House
Mitchener Park
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6H 4M5

Benesh Movement Notation The Institute of Choreology
4 Margravine Gardens
Barons Court
London W6 8RH

Eshkol-Wachmann System The Movement Notation Society
75 Arlozorov Street
Holon, Israel

For more information, and some interesting reading, try to find:

Guest, Ann Hutchinson (1984). _Dance Notation: The Process of Recording Movement on Paper_. Dance Books: London. ISBN 0 903102 75 7

This gives historical background, plus an overview of notation systems, and discusses what works (and what doesn't) with the various systems covered.



From: (Markus Bader)

To all, want do see and edit dance steps on their computer!

"DANCE - the dancefigure database version 1.1" is available

DANCE is a windowsprogram with which you can edit dance steps and look at the steps, others have edited. As DANCE is shareware, I won't explain all the features of the programm. Those, who are interested, can download DANCE 1.1 from my WWW-Page and try it. The program is translated to english now (but not the helpfile. This will take a bit longer).


This s not really a notation; it is a program for designing choregraphy. Here is some official company blurb.

For those of you who have been waiting, Life Forms human figure animation software is now available on both Macintosh and Windows platforms!

Life Forms allows you to create realistic human motion quickly and effortlessly. Used by such notables as Merce Cunningham, Life Forms is perfect for choreographing dance sequences on the computer. And now version 2.0 features an integrated Walk Generator, new TimeLine editing features and enhanced import/export capability.

For more information, please visit our Web site at: or you can contact us at: Credo Multimedia Software Inc.
Suite 270 - 8900 Nelson Way
Burnaby, BC Canada V5A 1S6
tel: (604) 291-6717
fax: (604) 291-7484

Laban software

I have got an X-Window laban editor working quite nicely and its available as freeware from and an example of its use is in [Don Herbison-Evans don@socs.uts.EDU.AU ]


Studio software

Mark J. Zetler writes:

My wife (& I) have a dance studio in San Diego. I've been using COMPUDANCE by a company in Texas called Theatrical Administration Consultants (210) 497-4327 for about 7 years. It seems to do the job, and the author seems to be responsive to the people who use the program. There are some quirky things that that are annoying but all in all the program works. I think the price is around $300 (????).

I have only run into 3 other programs. The first one was about $100 and didn't do anything. I don't think the company exists any more.

The High Priced Spread is called DANCE MANAGER. Last I heard (I could be wrong) the price was about $1,200. The demo of the program implied this program could do everything. I just could not justify the cost.

The last program I've run into is called IN MOTION: THE STUDIO MANAGER from Full Spectrum in Anaheim Hills, CA. (714) 921-8743. ($200ish) The program looked promising but seemed to run everything from the accounting end not the student. I'll try to explain, at our studio most question/problems are easier to resolve by first looking up the student, seeing what classes they are registered in, look at the billing, then look at the payments. With the IN MOTION:you have to go to different places to find all that info. In COMPUDANCE you can do all that from one starting place (presentation ain't as pretty as the other programs but I still got the info and that is what counts).

Compudance will have a Windows version in summer '96.

There is also an advertisement in Dance Magazine for DanceWorks; runs under Windows; $395; phone (800) 286-3471 for free demo.

For a contrasting view, (Tango TAG) writes:

I use WordPerfect Suit, it is great. but you could use any Suite program all you have to do is set it up for your business. To many people spend to much money, on custom programs. Buy a suite program and you got it all.

From Debbie Ramsey and Wesley Boz:

Our company runs it's accounting off of Intuits " Quickbooks". It is a business accounting program created by the same people who bring you Quicken. Within a few hours you can be proficient in this easy to understand software program. Customizing it is easy also.

To manage our weekly dance classes and database of students who have attended workshops we have produced around the country, I use a contact management software program that I have customized for our business.

It is a relational database with full word processing capabilities. and spell checker built in.

The power of this easy to use program is in the unlimited number of user define fields you can create. You can define and describe your students in any number of ways.

I created user defined fields with categories such as 1) Dance Interest 2) Group Class Attendees 3) Private Classes 4) Reoccurring dates(Anniversary, Birthday's) 5) Marketing Info: How Did You Hear About Us - Newspaper, Referrals, Flyer etc..

It has a calendar feature and a hotlist "To-Do" builder feature. Alarm feature on calendar to remind you of important appointments.

If you use WinFax Pro or FaxWorks faxing software, it is easy to fax from this program. The automatic telephone dialing feature speeds calls if you have a modem. The ballroom studio can have a telemarketing person on board to make large banks of calls.

You can mail merge letters, print labels, envelopes, reports etc. easily. A Windows 96" version will be out in end of march.

You can import Scanned images and it supports OLE and DDE.

I understand some people have modified Filemaker Pro and Microsoft's Excell/Access programs and have done a good job of it.

If you have any questions about Quicken, Maximizer Contact Management Software or some of the other innovations we have made to our dance business in the last two years, email me at .

Hope this helps, Wesley Boz

Dance Partner Software

From: (Dave Coffman)

Joseph McGarry ( wrote:
I have seen software advertised in Dance U.S.A. calledd Dance Partner
for windows. Has anyone used it? Is it worth the investment,$40.00 plus

It's great software!

It has hundreds of partners for every type of dancing: Country Western, Ballroom, Latin, and Hustle, Swing, Morris (minor), Clogging, and Hip Hop, Folk, Square, and Ballet ... just to name a few ... also included in the next release... Modern, Jazz, *AND* Broadway Performance! A *FREE* upgrade!!

Pick a partner for every occasion from the sleezy to the sofisticated!

No need to worry about ability; you can pick a partner from a steel toe'd beginner to the top ten-dancer!

Ladies, find the dancer of your dreams who doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and won't want to jump your bones unless you want him, too!

Extremely high resolution graphics lets you put your imagination totally to rest.

There are more more partners than you could expect to dance with if you went to *every* festival, competition, evening dance, company party, and weekend night club, and danced with every partner of your choice!

*AND* tired of getting turned down?? Partner Dance Software for Windows is just for you! It'll never happen here!

Its the perfect program for mouse potatoes that would rather sit at their computer than get out and *DO IT*.

This file is part of the FAQ list for the newsgroup The FAQ list is being maintained by Victor Eijkhout (victor at eijkhout dot net, talk about vanity), who appreciates being sent additions or corrections on the material in this collection. Copyright 1994-2001 lies with the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.

Listen up: Victor did not write most of this stuff; he just collected it. So don't send him any dance questions.

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Last modified on: August 11, 2001.