The Benesh Institute & Benesh Movement Notation

The international centre for Benesh Movement Notation.

 

The Benesh Institute (BI) is the international centre for Benesh Movement Notation (BMN). It was founded in 1962 to promote, develop and offer education in Benesh Movement Notation. It functions as an examining body and professional centre and it is responsible for coordinating the worldwide technical development and evolution of the notation system.

Since 1997 the Benesh Institute has been incorporated within the Royal Academy of Dance with the mission to promote the knowledge understanding and practice of movement study through Benesh Movement Notation. The BI seeks to serve the dance profession, to preserve our dance heritage and protect choreographic copyright.

BMN is a concise, accurate and versatile written system for recording all forms of human movement. It was devised by Rudolf and Joan Benesh and was first published in 1956. BMN is most widely used in the recording and restaging of dance works where it has proved invaluable both as a day-to-day rehearsal tool and as a means of preserving our dance heritage. Unlike video, which records one particular performance and interpretation of a dance, the notation provides the means to faithfully record the choreographic intention. 

Over 1,750 BMN scores of dance works in the repertoire have been written. More than 250 of them are available for use in education, for research purposes, in teaching dances from the repertoire and as a tool for the analysis of movement, rhythm, phrasing and the structure of dance works. 

The Royal Academy of Dance publishes the set exercises and dances in its examination syllabi in BMN. This enables teachers to study the set work using a common language in more detail than is possible from the word notes alone.   

BMN is a universal language that provides an accurate three-dimensional representation of movement. The system is, and can be, much more than a means of recording theatre dance. It has been used successfully by anthropologists, by physiotherapists to analyse and record patient movement, and even in an ergonomic study of seating in an airport.

 

 

Practical applications

Because of its great versatility, the BMN system is used by:

- choreographers: who use the notation to protect their choreographic copyright and as a reference for work in progress during creation. In our current score catalogue, you can find the work of more than 200 choreographers including Ashton, Balanchine, MacMillan, Preljocaj, Neumeier and MacGregor

- dancers: to learn their roles directly or through a notator, unencumbered by the interpretative nuances of previous interpreters

- dance students: to enhance their understanding of their movement vocabulary and improve observation skills

- dance teachers: to read dances from the repertoire, plan classes, record choreography and study the set exercises and dances in the Royal Academy of Dance’s examination syllabi.  It can also be used in the teaching of basic movement concepts such as spatial awareness and rhythm. 

- dance scholars: who use BMN scores for academic research purposes  

- dance stagers: who teach from a “text” designed for the purpose in a succinct and analysed form

- dance notators: who are members of the artistic team in a dance company. They are also known as Benesh Choreologists and serve as custodians of our dance heritage

- RAD: to communicate with their multi-lingual members using a common language

- major dance companies: to record, revive and maintain repertoire works

- opera and musical industry: to provide a sophisticated and sensitive record of the choreographic element for rehearsals and re-staging

- film and TV industry: to contribute towards the planning and recording of movement content

- anthropologists: as a tool of analysis in different socio-cultural environments

- clinicians, physiotherapists, etc: to analyse and record patients’ movements and to follow the progress of a patient’s gait and posture

 

For information about other Benesh Courses, or if you want to study to become a professional notator, please visit www.benesh.org
or contact Liz Cunliffe, Director, The Benesh Institute Notation tel: +44 (0)20 7326 8031 email: lcunliffe@rad.org.uk