Motif Notation

Motif Notation is a system that uses the Movement Alphabet symbols to graphically represent and record multiple movement concepts.

Download Motif Notation Example

Movement Alphabet

The prime actions ('verbs') and concepts of which movement is comprised. Each Movement Alphabet symbol is a Motif, a representation of an entire constellation of ideas in a single concept for the mover to interpret in a myriad of ways.

Download full Movement Alphabet with accurate symbol proportions

Click here to download a pdf showing Motif Notation.

Any Action


Any Flexion

Any Extension

Any Rotation

Any Traveling

Any Direction


A Spring




Motion Toward

Motion Away

Still Shape


Teaching Aids

Poly Spots

A set of 12 in 1 of the following colors blue, yellow or orange.
Order directly from Palos Sports

Screamin' Vinyl Spots

A set of 6 in 1 of the following florescent colors yellow, orange or green.
Order directly from Gopher Sports

Move Cubes

Six-sided soft cubes, 6"x6"x6", with clear plastic sleeves to hold symbols, words, etc. Order directly from Sportime International (800-444-5700)

Video Aids

This video documents one group’s performance response to the assignment for the lesson on floor plans from Language of Dance® Fundamentals Part 1 held at the Dance Education Laboratory, Harkness Dance Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, July 2011. The goal for this professional development course for dance artist/educators is for participants to gain understanding and confidence in integrating Language of Dance into their teaching and creative practices.

LOD Foundations Part 1: Pathways Study 1

This lesson on floor plans followed an experiential exploration of traveling on the different kinds of pathways: straight, zig zag, curving, circular (CW and CCW) and random. After introducing and experiencing the characteristics of each pathway and the accompanying Motif Notation symbol for each, participants watched and analyzed a short section of Paul Taylor’s Esplanade (1975). Using their analysis as inspiration they created, motif notated, and performed group studies on pathways.

The objectives of the floor plans lesson are to:

  1. Collaborate to create choreography based on pathways and floor plans that has meaning and expressivity.
  2. Use floor plans to generate and manipulate group choreography.
  3. Manipulate direction in traveling.
  4. Document the choreography created by motif notating the pathways used, the changes in direction in traveling and accompanying floor plans.
  5. Share Motif notated scores with other groups.
  6. Perform floor plan study expressively.

The accompanying Motif Notation information on traveling, floor plans the two traveling studies with floor plans (the first one is without directions; the second one is with directions) gives the viewer an idea of how one motif notates traveling on different pathways on a score. Note that the floor plan provides “birds eye” views of the pathways traveled.