Past Event

Whitney Laemmli - Measured Movements: Weimar Germany, Labanotation, and the Choreography of Corporate Life

October 25, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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NYU Gallatin (Room 801), 1 Washington Place, New York

Speaker: Whitney Laemmli, Mellon Teaching Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Lecturer in History

In 1928, the German choreographer Rudolf Laban announced what he believed to be an explosive development in the history of dance: the creation of an inscription system that could “objectively” record human movement on paper. The technique, known as “Labanotation,” relied upon byzantine combinations of lines, tick marks, and boxes, but—despite its difficulty—was adopted both within dance and far beyond it throughout the twentieth century. In this talk, Dr. Laemmli will explore two seemingly distant, but in fact closely-linked, moments from Labanotation’s history: its origins in the anxiety-ridden, vibratory atmosphere of Weimar Germany and its use in the American and British corporate office in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In particular, the talk will focus on how writing down movement functioned a means of understanding and controlling the individual psyche, promising to reconcile the invented and the authentic, the individual and the group, and the body and the machine at moments threatened by massive social upheaval.

This event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:
New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Columbia University in the City of New York
City University of New York
The New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Medicine