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Revivals

Munich FaunA revival from score is the process of bringing a dance work to life from the page.  Revivals are sometimes called reconstructions and the process of reviving from score is sometimes called directing from score.  The dance director works in a similar way to an orchestra conductor, setting the work from the score on the performers and rehearsing the piece for performance.  The dance director can adopt different approaches, such as reviving the dance work as close to the original as possible or creating a new and radical interpretation of the movement. Either way, the score serves as the blueprint for the dance work, indicating what the movements are, how they are performed and by whom, and where on stage, much in the same way that the written play serves the theatre director.

Why not use a video recording?

A video recording is a representation of a particular performance of a dance work by particular dancers. Every performance is different, including quirks and mistakes that cannot be predicted in rehearsal, and every dancer brings his/her individual interpretation of the movement to their performance.  Thus with a video recording, it becomes impossible to differentiate the dancer from the dance.

A score is ideally written throughout the rehearsal period of a dance work with the choreographer present, enabling the notator to capture the movement as the choreographer intends it to be, not how the specific dancer performs it.  Using any available video recording alongside a score, though, is particularly useful to the dance director in acquiring an overall understanding of the work as a finished piece.

Revivals and Labanotation by Ann Hutchinson

L'Après-midi d'un Faune was recorded in 1915 by Vaslav Nijinsky using his own dance notation system.  The score lay unused in the British Library for nearly 40 years after his death because nobody could read it.  Restagings of the ballet relied exclusively on dancers' memories and photographic evidence. With the inevitable loss of detail and the distortions of personal movement preference, the piece lost accuracy and identity.

In 1988 Ann Hutchinson Guest and Claudia Jeschke deciphered Nijinsky's notation system and translated his score into Labanotation.  Study of the score provides great insight into the creative genius of Nijinsky's choreography and reveals a greater subtlety of movement, individual characterisation, and a softer, more flowing and musical style of performance than memory-based restagings of the ballet.

Ann Hutchinson Guest has been involved in a number of reconstructions, download the facts here.

L'Après-midi d'un Faune (PDF)

La Vivandière (PDF)

Soirée Musicale (PDF)

The Cecchetti Project (PDF)