This article explores the history of dance notation from the Renaissance to postmodern dance. It examines the tension between text and oral tradition in Western dance practices, as well as the issue of how to reconcile our views of choreography as both scriptural and visual. It has been difficult, if not impossible, to think of notation in relation to composition; notation has become almost solely associated with reconstruction as a phenomenon of historical interest. But, at the same time, the sense of the score—and hence some notion of notation—seems to remain within the body and the mind of the dancer as a danced possibility. That is to say, some form of cognitive mapping takes the place of the idea of notation and takes root in the dancer's mind and body (if not on paper). Literal notation is not just secondary but tertiary with respect to this sense of scoring, which appears to preexist notation in the mind and the body, making of dance a form that places particular demands on the performer.

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