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All the steps and nothing but the steps.

No one has done more to develop Labanotation from the rudiments of Laban's inspiration to the fully usable and expressive system it is today," said Ilene Fox, executive director of Dance Notation Bureau, as she presented Ann Hutchison Guest with the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) lifetime achievement award. "Without Labanotation, we would have very little of our dance heritage," Fox added.

Guest, 85, co-founded the Dance Notation Bureau in 1940, an organization she directed until 1961. She also authored Labanotation--the System of Analyzing and Recording Movement (Routledge, 1987), considered by many to be the notation field bible.

In her acceptance speech, Guest recalled some milestones from her remarkable sixty-five year career: notating The Green Table at the request of Kurt Jooss; teaching notation to students of Hanya Holm; and performing on Broadway in choreography by Holm, Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins and Michael Kidd. While she is known for her scholarship, it came from a great love of dancing--she credits Graham and Cecchetti technique for her personal training.

Guest became the first ballet and Labanotation teacher at the High School for Performing Arts in New York, and headed The Juilliard School dance notation faculty from 1951-1961. She also developed the Language of Dance[R], a body of work identifying basic movement elements that is now taught worldwide.

This year, Guest and colleague Claudia Jeschke are working with The Royal Ballet to prepare for a revival of L'Apres-midi d'un faune. Guest and Jeschke say they teach the only "authentic" version of the work using Nijinsky's personal notation score.

Guest says she strives for more than simply accuracy when reconstructing historic works. "We try to evoke a response from the performers. We encourage them to find the inner meaning, the intent behind the gesture and thereby to bring the movements to life. The choreography in Faune is spare, it is minimal, it is alien to today's dancers. For them, finding meaning is a voyage of discovery," she says.

At a time of life when others might consider easing their pace, Guest plans a full schedule for 2004. She's working on two manuscripts including a complete rewrite of Labanotation, and will travel in July to New York for Language of Dance courses at New York University and the 92nd Street Y; to Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, for a Motif Symposium; and to Beijing, China, for the International Council of Kinetography Laban Conference. In August, she'll attend conferences of CORD, and of the Dance Notation Bureau/Chinese Cultural University, both in Taipei, Taiwan.
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Title Annotation:Ann Hutchison Guest wins National Dance Education Organization lifetime achievement award
Author:Hildebrand, Karen
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
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