chapter  12
12 Pages

The Choreometric Coding Book

THIS system permits a measured description of dancing or movement by means of agreed-on qualitative rating scales. The viewer may register on these scales his judgments as to the relative presence or absence of qualities such as speed, strength, or linearity in the activity he observes. This set of qualitative measuring rods allows dances to be compared cross-culturally; it produces distributional maps of dance style that make very good historical sense; and it has generated a fruitful study of the functional interrelationship of dance and movement and culture styles. Choreometrics has not been tested for consensus, since this will require the creation of fairly elaborate and ex­ pensive rating films, but the two expert coders have found themselves in general agreement as they worked with it day by day,

Choreometrics ignores the problem of the unit; it is not concerned with a step-by-step, phrase-by-phrase result so that dance can be reproduced in its entirety from a written score. It reaches out to another level, to the level of identification where signals» constantly flowing in the kinesic stream, charac» terize all present in terms of age, sex, occupation, and, most especially, cul­ tural affiliation. Birdwhistell (1957) calls this "cross-referencing identifica­ tion behavior" and shows that it provides the supportive base line for all interaction. Choreometrics, however, does not seek to describe the particu­ lars or the content of these identifying sets^ but to evaluate a sufficient num­ ber of their salient qualitative aspects so the movement style of a culture may be delineated. In simpler cultures, one such description distinctively charac» terizes most activity, whether male or female, dance or everyday. Naturally there are differences between individuals, between behaviors, between per­ sons of different ages and sexes, but these differences are likely to grade away from a base-line movement signature whose imprint may be recognized throughout an area. This movement style model, notable in the stance adopted by the people of the culture and in the tempo of their activity, must be learned early in life and is shared by everyone in simpler cultures.