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... An exploration of participation, art and architecture in the city to inform a concept for engagement with the local community via artistic intervention... offering to our client a point of departure for the continuation of these ideas in their future work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Through the exploration of dance notation what can we learn about the limitations of Architecture and its representation of the architectural experinc

Key points of a dissertation relating Atrchitecture and Dance - Sundal Roy

  • Architecture exists wholly in any given moment; a dance peice in its entirety only last in the memory and imagination.

  • Both are experienced through passage of time and journey

  • Dance 'almost invisible', archietcture is 'almost permenant'.

  • So if we cannot perceive it except through the passage of time, do we know that the rest of it actually exists? Dance only exists when it is danced. After time, it is no longer perceived , therefore no longer exists. Yet, there is no way we can know if architecture really exists when we can no longer see it.

  • Architectural representation denotes the passage of time, depth and perception: we rely on our memory and experience to animate the representation

  • The nature of a space is defined by its boundaries, the objects that are placed within it. In this way, architecture is able to define space, by drawing attention to a version or versions of any of the infinite possibilities of the structurability of space.
    Yet it is when these boundaries are removed, when we consider chora as an informe, or formless space that it becomes difficult to define

  • ‘A dance sketches out a possible structure of space within an infinite set of possibilities. The dance is an exploration – a celebration perhaps – of the infinite structurability of space.’

  • It is dance’s evanescence that highlights the possibilities of the space. Through the passage of time, bodies in space eliminate the spatial structures in which they find themselves- they describe the space in which they are no longer found, but once were. Once danced, these possibilities exist only in our memories.

  • Architects have long struggled with the constraints of representing that which exists in three dimensions into two dimensions. This is a challenge enough without having to consider the fourth dimension- time.

Above: baroque dance notation indicating each step. What is not notated, and how would you notate this any way, is the movement between each step. The expression, the impulse are not accounted for.

  • Any type of preffesional notation in dance, architecture and music requires pre-requisite knowledge of notation; how to read adn understand it.

  • Notating danace with music locates the peice in time and space (Using Labanotation as below)

  • Above is an example of a planimetric drawing by the choreographer Trisha Brown. The full potential of this method as system of notation has not been exploited in this drawing, partly due to the lack of architectural context. The reason for this, as with all drawings, can be found in the purpose of the drawing. Trisha Brown’s drawings are not intended for the replication, restaging or even archiving her choreographies, let alone the representation of an experience

So how does dance relate to architecture?

  • As both dance and architecture are experienced through the body’s own senses, of which the most information, for the average person, is relayed through sight, a visual representation is the obvious choice. As we have seen, it is the purpose of the particular system of representation, be it architectural or with reference to dance, that determines its success. Personal repositories to be used by the individual choreographer as short-term memory triggers do not need to communicate all layers of information. It is sufficient, and even preferable to use reference points, such as figurative representations of the body, words or other symbolic diagrams which may be esoteric to the author. Each one of these has an association in the memory of the choreographer and are intended to trigger the necessary memories in order for the choreographer to recreate the intermediary phrases
  • Architectural representation, like choreography, makes assumptions about the understanding the reader has of its subject. It relies on the reader to imagine their own versions of the possibilities of the space they are comprehending
  • Where dance freezes the sequence of events, allowing the reader to understand the entire piece that unfolds over time, at their own pace, architectural representation privileges the “completed” architectural object, as if, once resolved, it is fixed in time. There is little recognition of the transition from building to architecture once it becomes occupied
  • Notation in any form emulates the objective, how do we encounter the subjective?
  • Movement, and therefore dance, is different in one space to another. Likewise, the ‘logical reduction of architectural thought to what can be shown’38, in terms of orthographic drawings, reduce architecture to a singular, completed object. They fail to acknowledge that the architectural object cannot exist without the three interdependent layers of movement, event and programme .

Some interesting correlation between architectuire and dance, mainly encompassing notation and the passage of time. Interesting initial ideas of how we (as architects) may be able to objectify, to some degree, the notion of dance. If any one wants further information i have it.


Anonymous said...

hi i would like the further information on dance notation if you still have it please. I would really appreciate it.

e-mail is harpschandi@hotmail.com


Anonymous said...

i'm interested in finding more about this for my univ project... would be a good documentation.


Anonymous said...

i'm interested in finding more about this for my univ project... would be a good documentation.


Anonymous said...

I would love more information if you have it for my Master's thesis. Thanks,


Sanja said...

I am an architectural student and a dancer and I am planning to do a research about the connection of dance and architecture for my diploma project so I would be really happy If you could send me some more information! :) thanks!


shima said...

I'm an architect student, and I'm doing my thesis project on play and my major program is dancing. I would appreciate if you would send me more information on this subject.
my email address is: shimasn@hotmail.com

Suz said...

I found this information very useful;
could I please get the references which you have used? I need it asap if possible


Kindest regards

Anonymous said...

I'm a about to start a thesis about the influence of dance notation on the architectural conception. If you have some interresting references I would really appreciate.
Thank you!
My mail:

Anonymous said...

I am currently working on a similar
topic for my thesis. I would like the further information on dance notation and architecture if you still have it please. I would really appreciate it.

e-mail is bbestf@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I am incredibly interested in what you have shared and would love more information. Send me an e-mail in you are able at:

Anne said...

As everybody, I'd like to have further information about this subject. I'm architecture student and dancer, so I'm always looking for links between this two passionning subjects.
Thanks in advance,

Anonymous said...


i am currently an architecture student and a dancer. i am trying to relate both for my senior project.any help would be appreciated.thank you.


AngeB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I found your informations very interesting and, since I am working at a similar project, it would be great if I could get the references which you have used, or some more infos on the topic.


Anonymous said...


I am much the same as the rest of these comments- I am an architectural student and dancer. I am attempting to write a essay on the correlation between dance and architecture, and notation of time and movement.

I you had any more information I would really appreciate it please!


Many Thanks

Anonymous said...

I'm also an architecture student and dancer!!!
I would like the further information on dance notation and architecture if you still have it please. I would really appreciate it.


Anonymous said...

I'm an architecture student and I'm doing a project related to dancing. The dance notation would be a great document for my research process. Could you please share the document if you still have it.
Best regards

my e-mail is nice_toxic@hotmaail.com

Anais said...


I would be very pleased if you email me with further information, I'm doing a presentation using cognitive mapping of dancers in the street.

Mail: anais169@gmail.com


Natasha Coutinho said...

\I am currently working on labanotation dance patterns and then trying to manifest a single notation into a graphic pattern. I am really interested in knowing more about your research

Natasha Coutinho said...

my email address