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.
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.
The Richard Holden Collection of Benesh Movement Notation
Eshkol-Wachmann Movement Notation Collection
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.