23 August 2011

Roadblock Identified: Everest On Road

(Don't try too hard to make sense of that title; I'm not in writer mode...)

Since I feel so inadequate about writing down the brilliant (I wish) choreography in my head and being utterly unable to read it back later and figure out my own work, the other day I Googled 'ballet choreography notation.' I didn't hold out much hope as I'd done this several times before with no notable results.

This time though, I found a couple of decent sites (no, not Wikipedia).

Or at least they looked decent.

There was this one site that was really making sense. I looked at their preview lessons and was actually beginning to understand it (typically it takes me about three years to pick up on complex things like when someone says they hate you that means they don't want you around). However, the writer of the preview lessons said it was highly advisable to learn the official, more detailed version of notation before moving on to the shorthand (which was what I was viewing). Conveniently, this was also available on their website... somewhere.

More than an hour later I finally came to the conclusion (like I said, I'm slow) that this 'original' version of the notation system was apparently intelligence on par with the highest of Cold War-era US Naval Defence secrets* or something because it was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. It appeared the site had a grand total of three pages and they all linked to each other and back and no matter what you clicked you ended up cycling through the same three pages over and over and over again.

So I went back to the original Google search results page and ended up on the official Royal Academy of Dance website. Perfect.

I went to the shop and clicked on 'books,' since that seemed the most likely to have something that would help me. There were a few books, but no summary of whether they contained famous dances written in said notation or if the books would actually help me learn to write the notation myself.

So I looked for software choreography programs. There were several that looked quite good -- for a cool grand I could order a sort of 'word-processor-like' program. (That term wasn't really explained, but as the previous computer program I looked at required a doctorate in nuclear-phycisist-level math just to place one hand, 'word-processor-like' sounded attainable.)

I would have actually considered the 'word-processor-like' programs too (thousand dollars and all), until I looked at the all-important system requirements: 64MB RAM (check), CD ROM drive (check), hard disk space (amount not specified but if you're asking for only 64MB RAM I have enough hard drive space to correspond to that), 233 MHz processor or more (check), printer (check), Windows 95, 98, or 2000.


(It got better: 'Windows 95, 98 and 2000. Untested on Windows ME and XP; NT is not supported. The [software] will run on Windows 95 but the platform is now obsolete.' Then why bother keeping it up?)

I knew software for the Mac OS is harder to find but given Apple's huge advertising push (and the exposure they get from the iDevices) over the past few years and the fact that now everyone probably knows at least one person with a Mac, you'd think that Mac software would now be almost as easy to find as software for the Windows PC.

Alas, apparently this is not yet the case.

I went back to Google search and looked for 'benesh notation' which, I've heard, is the most-used system for such things.

Nothing. At least, nothing on how to learn to write it -- but plenty of articles lamenting how almost no one -- dancers and choreographers alike -- can read choreography notation of any kind.

Well... it would certainly help the case if the materials were available, wouldn't it? I mean, I'm not the sharpest petal on the rose but it makes sense (at least to me anyway) that if you want people to learn this, making it readily available to them would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.

Just a thought.

But if any of you happen to find some kind of a book on learning to write Benesh movement notation (not famous dances written in Benesh notation), do let me know, because it seems my brain will refuse to thaw and let me do this until I can make it understand that yes, I will be able to later understand what I wrote.

*I realise the US Navy might not have been a big player in the Cold War, but the term 'US Naval Defence secrets' in conjunction with nuclear threats sounds very impressive and probably very accurately describes the secretive state of this elusive choreography notation system.


Brittney said...

I'm not going to pretend to understand much of this, but why not just make videos of what you come up with until you learn how to write it down? At least that way you can record your ideas somehow...

Kate said...

Yeah, I thought of that. Now that I've got a video camera it's actually feasible too... space is an issue for that though. My mother suggests I use the garage -- not the best floor to dance on, but better than nothing I suppose. I just have to clean it out.