4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Dance / Choreography Timeline

Theme

1450 – 1500

The Earliest Known Dance Notation Circa 1490

Detail of leaf of Les Basses danses de Marguerite d'Autriche.  Please click on link below to view and resize complete image.

Marguerite d'Autriche, who was married to briefly to John, Prince of Asturias before his death in 1497.

Les Basses danses de Marguerite d'Autriche, a fifteenth-century manuscript source for the basse danse, a Burgundian court dance, consists of twenty-five parchment leaves on black paper with gold rules and calligraphic initials in silver. Seventeen folios contain specific music and choreographies in the earliest known dance notation.  

Produced sometime before 1501, probably during or after 1497, the front portion contains a brief address or dedication to the Princess of Spain. Margaret of Austria (Marguerite d’Autriche) was the Princess of Spain by marriage during 1497-1501. “On the basis of 15th century musical and literary material it is generally concluded that the dances of both manuscripts [Toulouze and Brussels] are to be situated in the middle of the 15th century”. (Lieven Baaert and Veerle Fack, “Les Basses Danses de Marguerite d’Autriche”)

The original manuscript is preserved in the Bibliothèque royale Albert Ier, Bruxelles, (Ms. 9085).  In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from the Library of Congress website at this link

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1550 – 1600

Using an Early Dance Notation, Jehan Tabourot Describes Late Renaissance Dance 1588

Pages from Orchésographie.

In 1588, writing under the anagrammatic pen name of Thoinot Arbeau, French cleric Jehan Tabourot published Orchésographie et traicte en forme de dialogve, par leqvel tovtes personnes pevvent facilement apprendre & practiq uer l'honneste exercice des dances. Par Thoinot Arbeau demeurant à Lengres, at Langres, France. Tabourot's manual, written in the form of a dialogue between a dancing master and his student, provided critical information on social ballroom behavior and on the interaction of musicians and dancers for this period. The book included an early dance notation system that correlated the music to the dance steps.

"Orchésographie discusses a full spectrum of late Renaissance dance including the galliard, pavane, branle, volta, morisque, gavotte, allemande, and courante" (Library of Congress, Dance Instruction Manuals, where you can page through a virtual facsimile of the 1589 printing at this link, accessed 04-05-2009).

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1700 – 1750

Raoul Feuillet Publishes the Beauchamp-Feuillet Dance Notation 1700

In 1700 French dance notator, publisher and choreographer Raoul Auger (or Anger) Feuillet published Chorégraphie, ou l'art de d'écrire la danse. Feuillet's work included the first publication of the system of dance notation used in Baroque dance, known as Beauchamp-Feuillet notation. This notation was commissioned by Louis XIV, who had founded the Académie royale de danse in 1661, and devised in the 1680s by Pierre Beauchamp. The system was widely used throughout the 18th century.

"This manual details a dance notation system that indicates the placement of the feet and six basic leg movements: plié, releveé, sauté, cabriole, tombé, and glissé. Changes of body direction and numerous ornamentations of the legs and arms are also part of the system. The system is based on tract drawings that trace the pattern of the dance. Additionaly, bar lines in the dance score correspond to bar lines in the music score. Signs written on the right or left hand side of the tract indicate the steps" (Library of Congress, Dance Instruction Manuals, accessed 04-05-2009).

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1875 – 1900

Stepanov System of Dance Notation 1892

In 1892 Vladimir Ivanovich Stepanov, dancer at the Imperial Ballet in Saint Petersburg, published L'alphabet des Mouvements du Corps Humain. The pamphlet was issued in Paris. Stepanov's system of dance notation

"encodes dance movements with musical notes and not with pictographs or newly invented abstract symbols. Stepanov breaks complex movements down to elementary moves which single parts of the body can make. These basic moves are then enciphered as musical signs" (Wikipedia article on Vladimir Ivanovich Stepanov, accessed 04-05-2009).

The Stepanov method of dance or choreographic notation archive is preserved in the Sergeyev Collection at the Harvard University Library Theatre Collection.

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1960 – 1970

The Computer Artis Society, the First Society for Computer Art, is Founded in London 1968

In the months following the ground breaking London exhibition, Cybernetic Serendipity, that showcased computer-based and technologically influenced works in graphics, music, film, and interactivity, Alan SutcliffeGeorge Mallen, and John Lansdown founded the Computer Arts Society in London. The Society enabled relatively isolated artists working with computers in a variety of fields to meet and exchange information. It also ran practical courses, conferences and exhibitions.

"In March 1969, CAS organised an exhibition entitled Event One, which was held at the Royal College of Art. The exhibition showcased innovative work with computers across a broad range of disciplines, including sculpture, graphics, music, film, architecture, poetry, theatre and dance. CAS founder John Lansdown, for example, designed and organised a dance performance that was choreographed entirely by the computer and performed by members of the Royal Ballet School. The multi-media approach of exhibitions such as Event One greatly influenced younger artists and designers emerging at this time. Many of these artists were rebelling against the traditional fine art hierarchies of the time, and went on to work in the new fields of computer, digital, and video art as a result.

"CAS established links with educational establishments, journalists and industry, ensuring greater coverage of their activities and more importantly helping to provide access to computing technology at a time when this was difficult. CAS members were remarkably ahead of their time in recognising the long term impact that the computer would have on society, and in providing services to those already working creatively with the computer. By 1970 CAS had 377 members in 17 countries. Its journal 'PAGE' was first edited by auto-destructive artist Gustav Metzger, and is still being produced today. The Computer Arts Society is a specialist group of the British Computer Society" (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/v-and-a-computer-art-collections/, accessed 01-19-2014).

In January 2014 all of the early issues of Page, beginning with "Page 1," April 1969 were available from the website of the Computer Arts Society Specialty Group of the BCS at this link.

In 2007 the Computer Arts Society donated its collection of original computer art to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which maintains one of the world's largest and most significant collections of computer art. The V&A's holdings in this field were the subject of an article by Honro Beddard entitled "Computer Art at the V&A," V&A Online Journal, Issue No. 2 (2009), accessed 01-19-2014). 

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"Incredible Machine" State of the Art in Computer Generated Film, Graphics and Music in 1968 1968

In 1968 scientists at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, created "Incredible Machine,"a color film that that represented the state-of-the- art in computer-generated film, graphics, and music at the time. 

The film featured artwork and computer graphics by Ken Knowlton and 
computer-generated music by Max Mathews. The title sequence was programmed by A. Michael Noll using his four-dimensional animation technique and is perhaps the first use of computer animation for title sequences. The computer ballet during the end credits was by A. Michael Noll. The basilar membrane animation was done by Robert C. Lummis, Man Mohan Sondhi, and A. Michael Noll.

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Cybernetic Serendipity: The First Widely-Attended International Exhibition of Computer Art August 2 – October 20, 1968

From August 2  to October 20, 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, curated by British art critic, editor, and Assistant Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Jasia Reichardt, at the suggestion of Max Bense. This was the first widely attended international exhibition of computer art, and the first exhibition to attempt to demonstrate all aspects of computer-aided creative activity: art, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, animation.

In the video below Jasia Reichardt introduced the exhibition:

"It drew together 325 participants from many countries; attendance figures reached somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 (accounts differ) and it received wide and generally positive press coverage ranging from the Daily Mirror newspaper to the fashion magazine Vogue. A scaled-down version toured to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC and then the Exploratorium, the museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco. It took Reichardt three years of fundraising, travelling and planning" (Mason, a computer in the art room. the origins of british computer arts 1950-80 [2008] 101-102)

For the catalogue of the show Reichardt edited a special issue of Studio International magazine, consisting of 100 pages with 300 images, publication of which coincided with the exhibition in 1968. The color frontispiece reproduced a color computer graphic by the American John C. Mott-Smith "made by time-lapse photography successively exposed through coloured filters, of an oscilloscope connected to a computer." The cover of the special issue was designed by the Polish-British painter, illustrator, film-maker, and stage designer Franciszka Themerson, incorporating computer graphics from the exhibition. Laid into copies of the special issue were 4 leaves entitled "Cybernetic Serendipity Music," each page providing a program for one of eight tapes of music played during the show. This information presumably was not available in time to be printed in the issue of Studio International.

Reichardt's Introduction  (p. 5) included the following:

"The exhibition is divided into three sections, and these sections are represented in the catalogue in a different order:

"1. Computer-generated graphics, computer-animated films, computer-composed and -played music, and computer poems and texts.

"2. Cybernetic devices as works of art, cybernetic enironments, remoted-control robots and painting machines.

"3. Machines demonstrating the uses of computers and an environment dealing with the history of cybernetics.

"Cybernetic Sernedipity deals with possibilites rather than achievements, and in this sense it is prematurely optimistic. There are no heroic claims to be made because computers have so far neither revolutionized music, nor art, nor poetry, the same way that they have revolutionized science.

"There are two main points which make this exhibition and this catalogue unusual in the contexts in which art exhibitions and catalogues are normally seen. The first is that no visitor to the exhibition, unless he reads all the notes relating to all the works, will know whether he is looking at something made by an artist, engineer, mathematician, or architect. Nor is it particularly important to know the background of all the makers of the various robots, machines and graphics- it will not alter their impact, although it might make us see them differently.

"The other point is more significant.

"New media, such as plastics, or new systems such as visual music notation and the parameters of concrete poetry, inevitably alter the shape of art, the characteristics of music, and content of poetry. New possibilities extend the range of expression of those creative poeple whom we identify as painters, film makers, composers and poets. It is very rare, however, that new media and new systems should bring in their wake new people to become involved in creative activity, be it composiing music drawing, constructing or writing.

"This has happened with the advent of computers. The engineers for whom the graphic plotter driven by a computer represented nothing more than a means of solving certain problems visually, have occasionally become so interested in the possibilities of this visual output, that they have started to make drawings which bear no practical application, and for which the only real motives are the desire to explore, and the sheer pelasure of seeing a drawing materialize. Thus people who would never have put pencil to paper, or brush to canvas, have started making images, both still and animated, which approximate and often look identical to what we call 'art' and put in public galleries.

"This is the most important single revelation of this exhibition." 

Some copies of the special issue were purchased by Motif Editions of London.  Those copies do not include the ICA logo on the upper cover and do not print the price of 25s. They also substitute two blanks for the two leaves of ads printed in the back of the regular issue. They do not include the separate 4 leaves of programs of computer music.  These special copies were sold by Motif Editions with a large  (75 x 52 cm) portfolio containing seven 30 x 20 inch color lithographs with a descriptive table of contents. The artists included Masao Komura/Makoto Ohtake/Koji Fujino (Computer Technique Group); Masao Komura/Kunio Yamanaka (Computer Technique Group); Maugham S. Mason, Boeing Computer Graphics; Kerry Starnd, Charles "Chuck" Csuri/James Shaffer & Donald K. Robbins/ The art works were titled respectively 'Running Cola is Africa', 'Return to Square', 'Maughanogram', 'Human Figure', 'The Snail', 'Random War' & '3D Checkerboard Pattern'.  Copies of the regular edition contained a full-page ad for the Motif Editions portfolio for sale at £5 plus postage or £1 plus postage for individual prints.

In 1969 Frederick A. Praeger Publishers of New York and Washington, DC issued a cloth-bound second edition of the Cybernetic Serendipity catalogue with a dust jacket design adapted from the original Studio International cover. It was priced $8.95. The American edition probably coincided with the exhibition of the material at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. The Praeger edition included an index on p. 101, and no ads. Comparison of the text of the 1968 and 1969 editions shows that the 1969 edition contains numerous revisions and changes.

In 2005 Jasia Reichardt looked back on the exhibition with these comments:

"One of the journals dealing with the Computer and the Arts in the mid-sixties, was Computers and the Humanities. In September 1967, Leslie Mezei of the University of Toronto, opened his article on 'Computers and the Visual Arts' in the September issue, as follows: 'Although there is much interest in applying the computer to various areas of the visual arts, few real accomplishments have been recorded so far. Two of the causes for this lack of progress are technical difficulty of processing two-dimensional images and the complexity and expense of the equipment and the software. Still the current explosive growth in computer graphics and automatic picture processing technology are likely to have dramatic effects in this area in the next few years.' The development of picture processing technology took longer than Mezei had anticipated, partly because both the hardware and the software continued to be expensive. He also pointed out that most of the pictures in existence in 1967 were produced mainly as a hobby and he discussed the work of Michael Noll, Charles Csuri, Jack Citron, Frieder Nake, Georg Nees, and H.P. Paterson. All these names are familiar to us today as the pioneers of computer art history. Mezei himself too was a computer artist and produced series of images using maple leaf design and other national Canadian themes. Most of the computer art in 1967 was made with mechanical computer plotters, on CRT displays with a light pen or from scanned photographs. Mathematical equations that produced curves, lines or dots, and techniques to introduce randomness, all played their part in those early pictures. Art made with these techniques was instantaneously recognisable as having been produced either by mechanical means or with a program. It didn't actually look as if it had been done by hand. Then, and even now, most art made with the computer carries an indelible computer signature. The possibility of computer poetry and art was first mentioned in 1949. By the beginning of the 1950s it was a topic of conversation at universities and scientific establishments, and by the time computer graphics arrived on the scene, the artists were scientists, engineers, architects. Computer graphics were exhibited for the first time in 1965 in Germany and in America. 1965 was also the year when plans were laid for a show that later came to be called 'Cybernetic Serendipity' and presented at the ICA in London in 1968. It was the first exhibition to attempt to demonstrate all aspects of computer-aided creative activity: art, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, animation. The principal idea was to examine the role of cybernetics in contemporary arts. The exhibition included robots, poetry, music and painting machines, as well as all sorts of works where chance was an important ingredient. It was an intellectual exercise that became a spectacular exhibition in the summer of 1968" (http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/exhibitions/serendipity/images/1/, accessed 06-16-2012). This website reproduces photographs of the actual exhibition and a poster printed for the show.

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1970 – 1980

Franke Issues the First Comprehensive Treatise on Computer Graphics with the First History of Computer Art 1971

Cover of Computergraphik-Computerkunst, by H.W. Franke. Please click on image to see larger version of image.

Herbert W. Franke.

In 1971 Austrian scientist, science fiction writer, and computer graphics artist Herbert W. Franke published Computergraphik-Computerkunst in Munich at the press of F. Bruckmann.  Within the same year his book was also translated into English by Gustav Metzger and published by Phaidon in London and New York as Computer Graphics, Computer Art. In many respects Franke's extensively illustrated book was the first comprehensive treatise on computer graphics, representing the state of the art in 1971.  It also contained the first history of computer art in graphics, sculpture, film, music, architecture, theater and dance.

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1980 – 1990

The First Dance Notation Software 1981

In 1981 American computer game and video game designer Eddie Dombrower created the DOM system, the first dance notation software, on an Apple II computer. DOM allowed choreographers to use a simple system of codes to enter their work. The resulting dance movements were then performed by a figure on screen.

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2005 – 2010

The Most Viewed Video on YouTube as of 2009 April 2006 – May 9, 2009

Judson Laipply

American motivational speaker, inspirational comedian, and dancer Judson Laipply from Bucyrus, Ohio, posted the video clip Evolution of Dance on YouTube.

By May 9, 2009 the video had been viewed 119,378,381 times.  AT this date it was the Most Viewed (All Time) Video, the Most Favorited (All Time) Video, and the eighth Most Discussed (All Time) Video on YouTube.

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