Notation for dance steps?

October 18, 2009 at 12:58 am Leave a comment

[this is a stub – please come back – I will update with posting]

I want to notate dance steps so I can present them on a website. I want a great notation for this, so I can persuade people to collaborate on a database of steps. My first goal would be to list as many step sequences from Ballroom dancing (Quickstep, Slow Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slow Fox, …, Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba, Paso Doble, Jive, ….). Those are much easier to describe than Modern Dance or Hip Hop, as you need to describe the full body for those. At my level of Ballroom you can describe a general technique for how to use the body and than you can mostly describe a step by the location and direction of the feet, when feet are raised or lowered [ball/flat], what direction your upper body has to have and what direction your head should be look at. This information won’t be enough to describe steps like Samba Rolls or the body and arm movements in Samba Promenade 6 Counter Promenade Runs. But it should be sufficient to describe many steps.

There are several sites that list dance moves. But I couldn’t find an extensive list.

I will list some of the sites that Ballroom steps, and try to comment on them.

  • Wikipedia: The English Wikipedia lists several Dance steps – see for example V6 Quickstep or Counter promenade position
    • describes the step in general (+)
    • lists the level of the dance pattern (+)
    • says where this can be used (+)
    • There is no precise notation what to do with the feet (-)
    • it’s difficult do get a list of all dance patterns, one can look at the category but that’s not a well-layouted page (-)
  • [German]
    • It has a list of several figures [I guess about all Gold figures] for Rumba, Slow Waltz and Quick Step.
    • About all information is behind a pay wall.
    • Steps are animated in a flash animation and shown on a video. There is a free example for the Rumba step Spiral. Unfortunately, I can’t see in which format the steps are saved, and how the flash animation is done from that.
  • [German]
    • Describes 2 to 6 steps per dance
    • step sequences are described in a way that needs some thinking and is only understandable by  a human not by a computer. Different tips are give depending on the figure.
    • More basic steps are describe on Those basic steps are used to describe the advanced steps linked to above. But I don’t see where this is mentioned on the page.
  • Wikibook: Tanzen [German]
    • It lists very few steps at the moment.
    • There are no animations.
    • Steps are listed in tables. Information in the tables differs.
    • For several dances there is not really much information.
    • As it lacks a consistent way to present the steps those can’t be used to exported into an animation program to visualize the steps.
  • Technique of Ballroom Dancing by Guy Howard, Alex Brown [book no website]
    • This is a great book
    • But it’s a book
    • so it’s not free
    • there are no animations
    • it can’t be updated by users
  • Dance – die Tanzfigurendatenbank [German] – a software for animating steps, some of steps can be watched for free, most have to be bought.
    • The software is WinXP/WinCE/Linux, but not a website
    • It seems on can export the steps as avi and png
    • I don’t know what format the steps are saved
    • It seems there are videos to the steps but I don’t know how well they are.
    • There is no commenting, etc.
    • It says it has 220 steps, 80 of those for free.

… hm, I guess I’ll have to finish this some other day.

I want to have a look at the following sites (and more) for possible incorporation in the list: – A book about a notation for Tango Argentino – A blog post about this notation – A research text with the name “EJ312965 – Dance in Computer Technology: A Survey of Applications and Capabilities.” – I want to find out what it’s about. – I want to understand what Laban is capable of, whether it’s a possible candidate for saving dance steps in. But probably it’s too complicated (as it’s for Modern Dance) to describe Ballroom. I guess I will also check

There is the website which reads: “Dance Notation for Ballroom Dances »Info Last Time Updated on 8/7/2001 7:05:00 PM / Dance Notation for Ballroom Dances / An explanation of the notation system. It was developed as a means of instant recall for all the Ballroom and Latin dance steps that he studies.” But there is no further information. Maybe I can find out what this page refers to. – I want to have a look at it, as lists several Paso Doble figures. But I’m not sure whether those are Ballroom steps or Round Dance steps. But it’s also written in a way that only humans can read it. and are offered by the DTV but that’s also just 8 pages of information that isn’t computer readable. I want to find out, what it can do.

Surely I may not forget  – but he has soo few steps!

Okay, I ‘ll have to look at those soon. And I’ll have to search for some international sites. This was just the result from searching for German terms.

Having a machine readable version would make a translation much, much easier.

Entry filed under: dance. Tags: , , , .

How to remember dance steps? Slow scrolling through podcasts on ipod touch with firmware 3.1

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