Motif Notation: An Introduction

The Language of Dance Center works diligently to provide the most valid and up-to-date syntax and usage of Motif Notation. As such, we are constantly reviewing and improving our products and materials. If you own our primary and popular book Motif Notation: An Introduction, please download and print this addendum with our latest updates and corrections.

Remote Learning LOD Lesson

Dear LOD Community,
Here is a learning packet and other LOD resources, including a few different items for people who may not otherwise be familiar with LOD or the benefits studying LOD can offer.
1. LOD Literacy Processes
2. A language of dance unit on Planes in Space. 
3. Accompanying word document with assessment ideas for notation based dance learning online
4. A basic movement alphabet chart

Here are two links to help you with the material: (These are unlisted so therefore can only be shared via link)
A brief (and informal) orientation video:
A talk through the Planes in Space score:

I want to extend my hand as a Language of Dance Specialist for these time of change. I have experienced how LOD can make online assignments more manageable, structured and effective. I have over 10 years of experience teaching online with LOD in both asychronous situations and through Zoom conferencing. I don’t know everything, but I have climbed a number of learning curves over the years that might be helpful. 

Also, I am holding free 30 minute Improvisational sessions using the Language of Dance from 1:15-1:45pm (Pacific) every Tuesday and Thursday on Instagram Live @dancingpoetess. This would be good for anyone who would like an LOD refresher or free movement session.

Lastly I have made public a series of my LOD and Tea YouTube videos with introductions to the movement alphabet concepts and some essential notation guidelines to help you feel confident utilizing this tool in your teaching.

I would love to support my colleagues as much as possible. It helps me feel connected when I feel I am of service. :)

Dance on!

Beth Megill
Language of Dance® Specialist
Moorpark College Dance Faculty
Artistic Director of Megill & Company (MeC0)
Social Media @bethmegill @megillandco

Motif Notation

Motif Notation is a system that uses the Movement Alphabet ©1983 symbols to graphically represent and record multiple movement concepts.

Download Motif Notation Example

Movement Alphabet ©1983

Developed and created by Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest, the Movement Alphabet ©1983 are 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 Rotation

Any Extension

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)

Appreciating Ballet's Music

Free, online resource featuring essays on well-known music used for ballet, links to free performances, and many references to our Founder Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest's Notation.

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.