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Excerpt from George Balanchine's Symphonie Concertante, Photo courtesy of Dance Notation Bureau Pictured: An excerpt from George Balanchine's Symphonie Concertante (1947; originally performed in 1945 by students of School of American Ballet). Notation by Ann Hutchinson Guest assisted by Els Grelinger (1948). (Notation courtesy of the Dance Notation Bureau, Inc. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.)


The mission of the Dance Notation Bureau (DNB) is to record dances in a way that will allow them to continue to be performed. DNB produces dance scores, using a symbol system called "Labanotation." Dance scores function for dance in the same way music scores function for music; each provides a blueprint of the work to which the performers add their artistry. Along with the score, DNB collects production information, music scores and tapes, videotapes, photographs, and any other information needed to stage the dance. DNB's archive has more than 650 dances by over 160 choreographers. Founded in 1940 by Ann Hutchinson Guest, Helen Priest Rogers, Eve Gentry, and Jane Price, DNB is the only American institution of its kind, assisting dance companies and scholars around the world. A wide variety of works is notated each year; in addition, between forty and fifty dances are staged from the score. Much of our dance heritage has been lost, but due to foresight in notating works, the dances of some artists are performed more now than in their lifetimes. www.dancenotation.org

Learn more in The Dance Notation Bureau, an essay by Odette Blum.