The Theory Behind....
"Gestures" are arm and leg movements within the kinesphere (the "reach" space surrounding your body).
Arm movements are shown in the second column outside the staff lines.
(If support is on your hands, or any part of your body other than your feet, then those body part signs are shown in the support columns.)
Forward for gestures is always towards your own body front, no matter where you are facing in the room or performance space. more
Gestures are usually either legato (connected) or staccato (separated).
When there is a separation between movements, your arm or leg will stay where it is until the next movement (you do not have to write a pause sign).
The sign for center ("place middle") has to be written if the transition would otherwise be a peripheral arc.
Rotation for the arms is usually shown by the "facing" of the palm or thumb-side of the hand.
Facings for the palm or thumb-side of the hand last only as long as the symbol they modify. A hold sign can be added to retain the facing.
is strong, and can be cancelled by ("back to normal"). is not strong, and lasts only as long as the symbol it modifies. In both examples above, the arm returns to the standard palm facing on count 4.
A "step" includes contact of the foot with the floor or ground, transfer of weight, and lift of the opposite foot in preparation for the next step.
When combined with steps, gestures usually begin 1/2 way through the step, when the weight has transferred enough to release the gesturing leg.
The dominant visual plane created by the shapes of the direction symbols is horizontal: think of the pointer-like symbols arrayed around the body, showing movement into the surrounding kinesphere.
Directions in Labanotation represent an analytical mix of body and space. Front, back and sides relate to the body, wherever you are facing in the room or performance space. Up and down (in the standard key) relate to the spatial constant of gravity. This analysis recognizes the constantly changing frontal orientation of the body plus the predominance of verticality of the body in everyday life.
It is also possible to redefine the vertical dimension according to the line of the spine, or to redefine front, back and sides according to the unchanging orientation of the room or performance space (see Systems of Reference in the Hutchinson textbook or Clefs in the Knust textbook for a full explanation of keys).