Since dance is a visual performing art, historically it was difficult to re-create — or even remember — great pieces of choreography. In 1927, Rudolph von Laban developed a system to record movement, down to the smallest movement of every body part. This system, called “Labanotation,” provides a way for dancers to re-create great dances of the past.

Labanotation shows four aspects of a movement: 1) The part of the body, 2) the direction of the movement, 3) the level (or height) of the movement, and 4) the movement’s duration. This notation system allows dance to join music and literature as an art form that can outlive the performer.


In the Labanotation Symbols tab, roll over the columns to see the body parts indicated in the notation. Also, rollover the symbols in the Direction and Levels boxes to see them used in the score. After learning about dance notation, click the Example Video tab to see a movement using the Labanotation method.