“lma, motif, benesh etc. cope poorly when trying notate improvisation and some late 20th and early 21st century dance forms. lma et-al are old conceptual filters that will prevent us from seeing the ‘new’. they only allow us to notate (or make) what is within current frameworks.” ~matt gough
All systems are based on the selection of which features to include or exclude. The choice to include some information necessarily excludes other information. Obviously our capacity to see and identify for inclusion is constrained by that which we are able to see or let into our awareness. We are confined by our cultures and our previous knowledge. Much of the history of science and its progress reveals this truth in action and much science fiction writing is based on this premise.
By definition any system that conceptualizes and categorizes ideas and information will exclude some things too. Sometimes this happens because we need to confine information to what is manageable – as when we restrict the features of an experiment so that we can prove a theory. Sometimes it happens because we are not aware – we do not know what we are missing – precisely because we are missing it!
It’s likely that many new fields of movement practice and expression find deficiencies in any system that tries to identify movement and limit its definition or confine its parameters. But does this mean the system itself is at fault? I think it means the system must be intensively interrogated and adapted to include new features – like any living language and growing body of knowledge. However, in the absence of a foundational system, there is equal danger that common understanding and communication will not occur.There is a need to work with the understanding that a system by definition is limited – and to recognize the limitations of those who use it. If a system is too rigid it is dead – it has no capacity to make adaptations – it will not advance knowledge, it will only serve itself. If it is used in too systematic a way, it cannot adapt to changes in awareness or include new information and conceptual understandings.
As someone who has worked with the Laban material for 20 years, I am biased in this. But regardless of its deficiencies – many of which arise from lazy, rigid or uninspired application of the system and are not inherent to it – LMA is the most conceptually comprehensive and elegant system I know of. It is both complex and simple – simple enough to be readily understood, but complex enough to require a greater investment to reveal applicability and utility.