Dance notation and
how to write it?

by Sydni-Caet Smith
(California, USA)


My name is Sydni, and I have just begun my dance training as a 16 year old. I love it, and I know that I have truly found my passion in life. It is a constant joy in my life, something that has really given my life meaning and happiness! Contemporary dance is definetely my favorite, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I found this site!

Recently I have been researching dance notation lately. Despite my extensive research, I am still really lost on this subject, and I was hoping you could help me! I have about an 8-count that I would love to notate, and I would so much appreciate your help! I thank you so much for your time, I know that I am one of many many submissions, but I truly appreciate your response. Thank you so very much, this means so much to me! Thank you again!

--Sydni Smith

Comments for Dance notation and
how to write it?

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Jun 11, 2013
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Dear Sydni,

There are several dance notation systems that are used today around the world: Laban, Benesh, Conté, and other ones that are less known.

As far as I know, it is the system developed by Rudolph Laban, known as Labanotation or Kinetography Laban, which has spread the most.

The reason for this is that this way of notating dance works for recording any type or style of dance. Actually, it works for writing down any sort of human movement, which makes it a language with the potential of becoming a universal language.

To start understanding Labanotation, you can read the following article: KINETOGRAPHY LABAN , also known as LABANOTATION.

Now, learning to notate dance is something that usually needs the guidance of a teacher. It is like when you learnt to write letters and words... it takes a bit of time too.

However, there are some didactic books with which you can learn the basics on your own. I see you're in the U.S., so you may find Anne Hutchinson's book easier:

Hutchinson, Ann. Labanotation. Routledge, New York, 1977.

The book I'm referring above is a BIG book..., don't get sacred when you see it ; -). It is broad, because it gives a lot of examples; but learning the basics is a much simpler task. You should also know that this book was written by an American teacher and there are slight differences between the writing she teaches and the European kinetography. Nevertheless, it is o.k. for a start.

I also know a didactic method, in which you can have a glimpse of the European school. The disadvantage is that it is written in French:

Challet-Haas, Jacqueline. Grammaire de la notation Laban. Volume 1 et 2. CND, Pantin, 1999.

I know there's a version in Spanish somewhere, so you may find one in English as well. Try making a bit of research in the web.

I also know that Jacqueline Challet-Haas, the author of that last book, used to give some online lessons. You could try contacting her through The CNSMDP (National Conservatoire of Paris), with which I know she is in contact.

Here are some other related places to look for new didactic books or courses:

- The Laban Center.



I hope this helps.

Warm regards,


Jun 11, 2013
Thank you so much!
by: Sydni

Wow! Oh my goodness, I can never thank you enough! Your answer has helped me in so many ways, I cannot express my gratitude! Just thank you thank you thank you!

I will definetely look into these books! Do you know of any books on Feuillet Notation? Or perhaps you yourself know how to notate this style? Do you know of somewhere I can send my 8-count to be notated perhaps?

Again thank you so much! This means so much to me! Thank you!


Jun 18, 2013
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Dear Sydni,

I just wrote a whole answer about the Feuillet Notation. Please read my answer there:

Feuillet Notation

Warm regards,


May 15, 2018
Motif Notation using the Movement Alphabet
by: Susan Gingrasso

I recommend Motif notating your ideas using the Movement Alphabet, the prime actions of which all movement is comprised uncovered and developed by Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest.

The Language of Dance Approach to teaching and learning dance, clarifying your performance techinique and adding that incredibly important and often missing aspect of dance training, Integrating thinking, dancing, and feeling instantaneously!

Check out the Language of Dance Foundations courses in Los Angeles, hosted by the Dance Department at Loyola Marymount University and the Summer Institute at the Dance Education Laboratory, Harkness Dance Center, 92nd Street Y in New York this summer. Engaging in LOD heightens your embodied understanding forever.

Oct 08, 2019
Were do you put the score?
by: Margaret

what do you do with the notation-score once it is written down? Musicians can read their score from music stands—are dancers expected to learn it off by heart?

Oct 22, 2019
How to use a dance score?
by: Maria

Dear Margaret,

The utility of a dance score is not only to preserve choreographies in a way that someone else can dance them later. However, if you are using a score with this purpose, the answer is yes. Dancers are expected to learn it off by heart.

This fact makes a lot of people think that writing dance is not very practical, because videos would do the work faster.

Yet, the main function and richness of writing dance scores lies in the practice of analysing movement. This activity creates a whole new imaginary space in the dancer or choreographer's mind. In this sense, producing scores is more like a way of expanding your creative tools and options and there's no mechanism that replaces its possibilities.

; )

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