Benesh Dance Notation Collection

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This material is held atV&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/91
Dates of Creationc.1977-2010
Name of CreatorBenesh Institute of Choreology Ltd
Language of Material English
Physical Description 3 filing cabinets

Scope and Content

This collection contains duplicate copies of Benesh Dance Notation scores, the originals of which are lodged with the Royal Academy of Dance Library.

In addition the collection features some introductory material relating to the development of Benesh Dance Notation and the history of the Benesh Institute of Choreology including leaflets, publications, examination syllabus, progress report (1967), newsletters (1978-1979) and a bibliography.

Administrative / Biographical History

Originally an accountant, Rudolf Benesh and his wife, Joan Benesh (formerly Rothwell, a soloist with the Sadler's Wells Ballet), founded the Benesh Movement Notation (BMN) system in 1955. BMN is a system by which movements may be transcribed into written form, and is used by dancers, choreographers, archivists, and also clinicians studying human movement. One reason for its success is that over twenty-five major dance companies utilised BMN and its use of the musical five-line staff, which made matching up movement to accompaniment straightforward.

BMN is useful not only for remembering past works and re-staging them, but also for movement therapy, and as a way to protect choreographers' copyright. He also coined the term "choreology" which he defined as "the aesthetic and scientific study of all forms of human movement by movement notation".

In 1962 the Benesh Institute of Choreology was founded, with Sir Frederick Ashton as president, Rudolf Benesh as director and his wife, Joan as principal. The Institute aimed to promote, develop and offer education in BMN and to assist in the preservation of dance heritage and in the protection of choreographic copyright.

In 1997 the Benesh Institute was incorporated within the Royal Academy of Dance, which deposits copies of its notational scores with the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Institute acts as an educational centre, training choreologists at varying levels, and also as a library for movement scores and a body for defending copyrights.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre & Performance's Reading Room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Friday between 10.15 am and 4.30 pm, access to it is by appointment only. To request an appointment please email tmenquiries@vam.ac.uk or telephone 020 7942 2698.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Conditions Governing Use

Archive material may not be photocopied. Arrangements can be made to photograph material in the search room using non-flash photography.

Appraisal Information

Appraised in accordance with collection policy. This included the removal of a number of issues of The Choreologist dating from 1978/79 and their integration into the department's core library collections.

Accruals

Further accruals to this collection are expected.

Location of Originals

The original Benesh Dance Notation scores are held by the Royal Academy of Dance. More information can be found on www.rad.org.uk

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Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.

Subjects

Dance Notation
Dance -- Great Britain

Personal Names

Benesh, Joan. ( 1920-)
Benesh, Rudolf. ( 1916-1975)

Corporate Names

Royal Academy of Dance (Great Britain)

Geographical Names

Royal Academy of Dance (Great Britain)

Cataloguing Info

TitleBenesh Dance Notation Collection
CreationCreated by Ramona Riedzewski using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2011-03-15