Attune, Observe, Report

Attune, Observe, Report is an on-going creative project. It is a way of presenting, talking about and moving other people’s movement work. These movement events may be workshops, performances or other kinds of presentation.

Using Laban Movement Analysis, Motif* and all the other information I have in my body from experiences as a dancer, movement coach, educator, researcher and performer, I attune to what is going on, observe the movement event and make notes and symbols (Motif). I look for patterns and what becomes significant, or essential, through virtue of repetition or absence. I then present these findings verbally and through movement, also presenting the symbols, in a lecture-demonstration round-table style, or maybe on a stage. The context of presentation varies from project to project.

The entire framework of the Laban/Bartenieff Movement Systems provides me with themes, and macro & micro lenses to look through to identify and give language & symbols to movement of any kind. Attune, Observe, Report is part interpretation, part dramaturgy, part education, a kind of mirror and above all a celebration of the movement event.

This is the first interpretative, kinaesthetic and analytical mode of re-presenting movement taking place in public performance settings in London, as far as I can tell…!


Motif writing*

– capturing in written symbols the essence of (some) movement.
The movement can be isolated by a chosen duration, a selection of one person from a group, one particular action, and through any other criteria that helps separate x from y for the purposes of study and/or personal importance.

The essence is not considered a replication of exact ‘steps’ or the entire movement from start to finish necessarily, but is comprised of the components of the movement that appear most important to the mover or the philosophies of the movement event. For example, what is essential may be a particular dynamic, phrasing, sense of relationship or use of space. Maybe a certain part of the body is more key than another. In the observation of movement, what repeats is considered important, but also how the movement begins and culminates.

Motif writing contrasts with Laban Notation (Kinetography Laban) which aims to capture all details of movement and was developed to accurately record dance prior to other technologies being available to document this ephemeral art. Motif is generally shorter, more like a Haiku, involving only the salient aspects. Its purpose is also for documentation, but more of a qualitative record. Motif is therefore useful in documenting improvised movement or incidental, pedestrian movement which is not formally choreographed.

Writing in symbols, rather than words, is both spatially economical but also an attempt to bypass the thinking mind that leaps to the abstraction of language over the felt-sense of the movement, and helps the researcher to stay with their own kinaesthetic experience as much as possible.

Motif is also written to be ‘read’, or rather, ‘moved’, not only as documentation. The Motif serves as a kind of rough road map or a score, telling a reader who knows the symbols, or is learning them, which ingredients from the vast possibilities of movement to focus on. In moving a Motif, one can manifest something recognisable from the observed movers’ experience. The process of moving, Motifing, reading and moving is a way of clarifying the essence of the material and the intention of the mover, and checking what you perceive is as near to what you observe as possible.

This whole process uses the language and somatic experience of Laban Movement Analysis to further refine what, how and where the movement is, and what it might potentially communicate.



With thanks to Rebecca Bligh for inviting me to create this project initially for her festival, An Address to the Body, at Bold Tendencies, Peckham, Summer 2013. 


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