(Irmgard Bartenieff and Dori Lewis in Body Movement)
It has been over 50 years since Alan Lomax introduced the Choreometrics project, 40 years since the release of Lomax’s film Dance and Human History, and 30 years since Lomax wrote Dancing: A World Ethnography of Dance Styles, which is still unpublished. When Lomax first announced the Choreometrics project, he was directed to Irmgard Bartenieff who, with her student Forrestine Paulay, worked to develop a method for coding movement. Using films containing images of the dances of different cultures across the world, several hundred coding sheets were completed. Choreometrics was refined throughout the next 25 years through an extensive dialogue with leading anthropologists and dance experts. In addition, Lomax and his colleagues made or gathered an extensive collection of filmed dance performances and related notes, analog codings, and illustrations to illustrate showing the elements of Choreometrics. Bartenieff left the project after a few years, but she maintained an interest in it in support of her studies on Dance Ethnography. As such, she captured her thoughts on the Choreometrics project in notes to Paulay, general notes, and through her teaching. Several examples are shown here.
In 2010, two Certified Movement Analysts (CMAs) discovered that the original archives for the Choreometrics project were located in the Library of Congress: Karen Bradley, then Director of LIMS and Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Maryland, and Miriam Phillips, Dance Ethnologist. Knowing that Irmgard Bartenieff and Forrestine Paulay were part of the original Choreometrics project and the resulting relationship between LIMS and the Association for Cultural Equity, Bradley reached out to Alan Lomax’s daughter, Anna Lomax Wood, ACE’s current President, and together they discussed the possibilities of revisiting the raw material and analytic process of Choreometrics with new eyes. This partnership launched a research project: Reimagining Choreometrics. To learn more about the project and Choreometrics, click the button.
For more information about the Association for Cultural Equity, click the link.
For more information on the Library of Congress Alan Lomax Collection and Choreometrics project materials