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SAVE A DANCE

The dances of Brigadoon have been preserved on paper with a symbolic language called Labanotation

[[image - illustration of Labanotation]]

On July 31, 1948 the last piping music sounded on the stage of the old Ziegfeld Theatre. The players took their bows. The applause died. The curtain closed. And the audience filed out. Brigadoon was off the boards after 581 performances.

On October 16, 1980, 32 years later at the Minskoff Theatre, the overture began, curtain opened - the lights, the scenery, the songs, the dances - they were all there. Brigadoon was back on Broadway!

For the revival a team headed by producers Zev Bufman and The Shubert Organization had to do some groundwork. It was no trick to find the romantic score of Frederick Loewe or the sprightly book and lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner. There were also lots of photographs of the original scenery for designers Michael J. Hotopp and Paul de Pass to work from.

But what about the dances? How could they be recreated? There was no printed score, no film of the original. Fortunately we still have that indomitable lady who first breathed life into those sprightly, high stepping pieces. She is Agnes de Mille, who choreographed not only Brigadoon, but also Oklahoma! and Paint Your Wagon. All the dances of Brigadoon were locked in her remarkable memory.

Nor was she the only one who recalled every dance step of this Lerner and Loewe classic. James Jamieson, who had played Harry Beaton in the original London cast, had restaged the choreography for 47 subsequent productions of Brigadoon. And so together Ms. de Mille and Mr. Jamieson recreated Brigadoon from memory, which is the way most revivals of dance happen.

But that is changing. For some time a small but dedicated group of eagle-eyed dance-watchers have been hunting down and capturing--on paper--the important works choreographed for dance companies, Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre. They write in a graphic symbol system

[[image - illustration of Labanotation]]

called Labanotation, which can be read just the way a musician reads a music score.

The notators, as these dance writers are called, have put down on paper 275 dance works - ballet, modern, jazz, Broadway, ethnic - by more than 100 choreographers. The list reads like a "Who's Who" of the dance: George Balanchine, Anthony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Robert Joffrey, Paul Taylor, Gower Champion, and Geoffrey Holder. You can find My Fair Lady by Hanya Holm, Sweet Charity by Bob Fosse, as well as two full-length ballets, Fall River Legend and Rodeo by Ms. de Mille.

Unhappily, Brigadoon was not among the shows notated and, since Ms. de Mille's health has been uncertain, it looked as if the current revival might be the last Brigadoon authoritatively staged by the original

by Jamie Fenwick
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