Dance of the Pixel

I was very interested to read your article about a Labanotation app for the iPad. (“Dance of the Pixel,” December 2013.) I’m a Reed graduate, a computer researcher, and I am also the holder of a “Junior Dance Notator” certificate (possibly the very first one). I grew up with Labanotation and with the Dance Notation Bureau which my mother, Maria Nicholson Langston (known as “Nicky”) ran as the only paid employee for my entire grade-school life through the 1950s. As a matter of fact, when the DNB had its office on West 20th Street my mother and I lived in an illegal apartment in the back of the office. Lucy Venable and Ann Hutchinson were childhood friends, as were Bob Joffrey, Jerry Arpino, and many of the serious dancers in the New York City scene of the ’50s, as well as dance visitors like Alicia Markova. Over the many years since then, I have lost touch with the dance world and am now more in touch with the worlds of high-tech entertainment, traditional music (folk music, country music, etc.), and adult music education. So it was a blast from the past, as well as the intersection of three important influences in my life, to see the familiar Labanotation staff on an iPad in the Reed magazine and to read mentions of Rudolf Laban, Ann Hutchinson Guest, and Lucy Venable. I remember how my mother, Ann Hutchinson, and the volunteers at the Dance Notation Bureau had struggled to promote Labanotation, and through the years I’ve wondered how it was faring; I’m pleased to see that there’s still interest . . . video really can’t take its place!

—Peter Langston ’68

Seattle, Washington