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About the Dance Notation Bureau Library
Our Archives of Notated Theatrical Dances
Our Other Library Collections
The Future of Our Library

About the Dance Notation Bureau Library

The Dance Notation Bureau Library maintains the world's most substantial collection of original Labanotated dance scores. Along with the DNB-produced scores, the Library collects and houses other materials needed to stage the dances, including music scores, audiotapes, videotapes, production information, historical information, and anything else pertinent to a dance. It is devoted to housing and preserving these materials and to making them as accessible as possible for the purposes of continued performance, classroom use, and scholarly research.

At the heart of the Library is a living archive of Labanotation scores representing both theatrical and non-theatrical dance forms. In addition to scores of ballet, modern, and jazz works which were created for presentation in a theatrical setting, the Library maintains a collection of folk, historical, and social dances from around the world. These include a selection of reconstructed Renaissance and Baroque dances. Also on file are notated technical studies of dance forms and movement in general; materials and readings for use in teaching Labanotation; and scores from the Albrecht Knust Collection.

The DNB Library opens from Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. Appointment by phone at (212) 571-7011 or by email at strongly recommend.


Our Archives of Notated Theatrical Dances

From Petipa's Sleeping Beauty to Bill T. Jones' Fever Swamp, the rich tapestry of theatrical dance over the past century is represented in the DNB Library and maintained for present and future generations to stage and study. The archives presently houses over 600 original Labanotation scores of theatrical dances. When a score is accessioned, regardless of its origin, the DNB records all the information about its provenance and production in order to properly catalog the work. In this way, every pertinent detail of a particular score is recorded to provide the necessary information for dance stagers and scholars. The manuscript is then copied onto acid-free permanent paper which serves as a master copy of the score. All copies for use by Library patrons are made from the master, and the original score is preserved in an archival box.

A notated work is protected through copyright status, so that use of a score is always contingent upon the wishes of the choreographer or his/her estate. Permission must be sought by the DNB for any patron wishing to use a notated score for study or staging. Educational use of scores is often granted freely, however. Those patrons who seek to stage a work for public performance must secure permission through the Dance Notation Bureau's Director of Stagings.

When a score is put in the DNB Library, it is supplemented by materials related to the work. Materials acquired vary with each work but usually include a marked music score, audiocassettes and videotapes; production information such as costume swatches and designs, lighting plots and set designs; as well as newspaper reviews, programs and photographs. These items are usually acquired for the DNB by the staff notator working on the score. Circulation of these materials is again dependent on the wishes of the choreograper, composer, and other copyright owners.

Periodically, either with the cooperation of the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts or through grants awarded to the DNB, the dance scores are copied onto an even more durable medium than paper: microfilm. To date, the majority of the DNB's Labanotation scores, often with accompanying marked music scores, have been microfilmed. One copy of the film is housed at the Dance Collection at Lincoln Center where modern microfilm readers may be used for viewing the scores. A second copy of the microfilmed scores is maintained outside of New York by Dance Notation Bureau as part of its disaster preparedness plan. The original negative is housed in the vault of the New York Public Library.

To see what theatrical dances are in the DNB archives, consult our Notated Theatrical Dances Catalog.


Our Other Library Collections

The Maria Grandy Circulating Collection

In honor of the late Maria Grandy and her years of commitment to the DNB, the circulating collection has been named The Maria Grandy Circulating Collection, thus ensuring that her spirit will travel with every work that goes out for study or remounting. What better memorial to Maria Grandy than this, which reflects her commitment to staging repertory from score and using notation in the training of dancers and her hope that perhaps others may become as attracted to notation as she was? We believe this is where she would want to be remembered.

Audiovisual Collection

The Dance Notation Bureau also maintains an archive of audiovisual materials dating from 1955. Original videotapes in various formats including EIAJ, U-matic, Betacam, 3/4" professional, and VHS. The collection contains some outdated or infrequently used formats such as reel-to-reel tapes of music for notated theatrical dances, oral history interviews, Labanotation lectures, etc.; a selection of LP phonograph records; 16mm film and reel-to-reel video tapes of dance performances. An ongoing project of the DNB is to reformat old material before the film base disintegrates and the information recorded becomes impossible to save.

The Richard Holden Collection of Benesh Movement Notation

Although the DNB promotes the Labanotation system, files are maintained on other forms of notation as well. The Richard Holden Collection contains scores of theatrical dance works recorded in Benesh Movement Notation between 1966 and1980 by Richard Holden. The Benesh method is a system of movement notation created by Rudolf and Joan Benesh. Benesh notation maintained by the DNB includes scores by Ashton, Bournonville, Fokine, Holden, and Petipa. Use of this collection is restricted. Permission must be sought from the donor, Richard Holden.

Eshkol-Wachmann Movement Notation Collection

The DNB Library has a limited collection of published material on the dances of Noa Eshkol, recorded in Eshkol-Wachmann Movement Notation from 1954-1978. Eshkol-Wachmann Movement Notation was developed between 1951 and 1956 by Noa Eshkol and Abraham Wachmann in Israel. This collection is currently located at The Ohio State University Library.

Photograph Archives

The Photograph Archives includes negatives and prints of photographs used in publications which have been donated over the years by choreographers, dance companies, friends of the DNB and DNB staff. Subject matter pertains to the choreographers and works represented in the archive as well as to the history of the DNB. Photographs do not circulate, but stagers and researchers visiting the DNB are welcome to look at them. With permission of the copyright holders, some photographs can be reproduced for circulation.

Publications Archives

The Library maintains a collection of books, periodicals, scores, and instruction manuals published by the Dance Notation Bureau between 1952 and the present. Among these is Dance Notation Journal, which was published from 1983 to 1989 and dealt with issues in Labanotation. (To order back issues of Dance Notation Journal, visit our Notation Publications page.)

ICKL Files

The International Council of Kinetography Laban (ICKL) was founded in 1959, the year after Rudolf Laban's death. ICKL's purpose is to bring together specialists in Labanotation from around the world to guide the unified development of the Laban system, which is also known in some places as Kinetography Laban. Labanotation has since been modified and built on the consensus of the notators who come together every two years at the ICKL meetings. ICKL sets usage standards; promotes research in order to increase efficiency of the system; and disseminates information about the system. ICKL holds biennial conferences and publishes technical papers on the Laban system. Copies of these papers and proceedings are filed at the Dance Notation Bureau.


The Future of Our Library

We are working on putting more moving image and notation excerpts on our website as a part of Online Digital Archive Project, which provides visual aids to our clients when selecting a dance to study or perform. The first 49 dances are available on our Notated Theatrical Dances Catalog web page. We will soon release another 25 dances by the end of Summer 2012.

With the advent of new computer technology, the recording of dance through Labanotation has evolved from pencil and paper to LabanWriter software.

For information about other performing arts libraries, visit our Links page.