Writing movement

The approaches to dance and dance notations at the beginning of the twentieth century provide a striking illustration of the lively and controversial debates around the future value of dance as a social, political, and above all artistic and cultural practice. The consensus in the dance world was that no medium of communication was viable without some kind of scoring. Dance required a notation that would be capable of capturing and preserving it in all its forms and lend itself to subsequent research. Such a notation, then, needed to grow out of current (practical) dance knowledge while also informing the development of a suitably contemporary dance. The newly emerging dance programs eschewed any traditional “unnatural” coding and instead sought to allow audiences to experience such individually adaptable qualities as expression and dynamism, conveying the social objective of dance as both representing and engendering community.

Creators of dance and inventors of scoring systems assigned multiple documentary as well as creative functions to notation: body, movement, and scoring cast off conventional constraints and became autonomous media in which to champion a comprehensive movement of reform. Its pragmatic demand for more “nature” was to change and improve the lifeworld—an environment that, due to industrialization and urbanization, was increasingly perceived as alienated.