[Sw-l] Writing Dances from Myanmar/Burma and Thailand

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon May 31 16:17:22 UTC 2021

SignWriting List
May 31, 2021

Thank you, Sutthikhun, for this message. My comments are in-between your paragraphs below -

> On May 30, 2021, at 2:29 PM, Sutthikhun Phaengphongsai <suttikunep at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello everyone!
> The project about DanceWriting for a traditional Burmese dance is currently being processed. I'd like to say thanks to Valerie for publishing my work on the DW website. However, those beta-images published are just parts of my first experiment that may not be correct by so many DW's rules that I need to learn more about.

You are very welcome. It is also a gift for me too, and for everyone interested in writing body movement, that you are writing DanceWriting. I stopped working on DanceWriting around 1981, when I started working full time with SignWriting. In 1981 we already had around 33 teachers trained in DanceWriting and it was being taught at the college level in the Dance department at the Boston Conservatory of Music, but as SignWriting evolved and improved and spread and was influenced by many writers, DanceWriting books and materials never progressed to include the new developments that were occurring in SignWriting. It was always my hope that someday we would find the time to update the DanceWriting materials to include all the new developments in SignWriting, and here you are, Sutthikhun, stimulating this to happen now. Thank you ;-)

Regarding learning the rules of DanceWriting, those can evolve as well - so that the entire writing system is one system with different focuses. I will be happy to work with you on this…

> Anyway, I have found that the original DW system has something remaining ambiguous, e.g., shapes of the hand, face expressions, which have become more clearly distinguishable in the SignWriting system. So it would be very interesting if the symbols in the SW were able to fill in the missing symbols in the DW, which would be very helpful for some dances focused more on hand movements! As far as I know, a lot of dances in South and Southeast Asia are quite prominent in changing facial expressions and hand gestures during the dance. So I want to try making a DW for dances in this region starting with the Burmese dance.

You are so right! Yes, DanceWriting that includes a lot of hand movement etc needs the detailed handshapes that evolved and developed over several decades in SignWriting. The old DanceWriting textbooks of the 1970’s started with writing classical ballet, which focuses on legs and arms and not face or hands. So we need to grab the knowledge of handshapes and facial expressions from SignWriting and write a new reference manual that blends all the sections of the system together in one large "Movement Writing Reference Manual". Maybe you can help me with this task? It will be fun. If you are too busy of course I understand and I will do my best to try to put it together over time, but your young enthusiasm and skills are invaluable. I am a little slow these days ( I used to work faster ;-)

> FYI: The series of Burmese dance steps in my project are called "Kabyar Lut", literally meaning Dance-without-Verse. The 125 steps of dance were codified in 1953 by Daw Oba Thaung, an eminent Burmese anyeint dancer and singer. But I would only write the DW some steps as a preliminary experiment based on provided youtube videos.
> Sutthikhun
> :D

That is good information. Do you want me to place the above info on this web page?

https://www.dancewriting.org/library/ethnic/Myanmar/Myanmar_Burma_dance_02.html <https://www.dancewriting.org/library/ethnic/Myanmar/Myanmar_Burma_dance_02.html>

Val ;-)



Valerie Sutton
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sutton at signwriting.org

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