The Theory Behind...


Turn signs in the center columns on the staff show revolving the body as a whole.  more


Placed in the right support column, a turn sign means a turn on the right leg.  In the left support column, it means a turn on the left leg.  For a turn on both legs, the turn sign is expanded across both columns.  more



Level for a turn is taken from the previous step (see steps theory for levels of steps).  The open turn sign has space for the pin to show amount of turning (see below), and does not imply middle level.  more


Amount of turn relates to your own body front.  A quarter turn means a 90° change, a half turn means a 180°change, etc., regardless of how you are oriented to the room or performance space.  more


Timing for a turn is shown by the length of the sign.


Timing and placement of the turn sign usually indicate whether the turn is a small preparation for the next movement, or whether it is the main action.


more about turns

Turning, around the body axis, is in place.  Although a step before a turn may make you travel, the turn itself does not travel.  

Circling makes a pathway in the room or performance space.  Note the difference in the signs.


When standing, the axis for the turn will be vertical, because even if the torso is inclined away from the vertical, the standing leg (or other support) usually maintains the vertical line.

When sitting or lying down, the turn sign in the support columns means rolling: the body revolves around the axis of the spine.


Turn signs may also be used to show rotation of the arms or legs:


more about supports and turns

Show a new support before a turn by a direction symbol (the turn sign by itself does not show the weight change).  If your weight is on both feet before a turn, you do not need to repeat a direction symbol.



For a turn in the air, add signs for leg gestures (non-weightbearing movements for the legs).  The idea is that if there is no weight on your legs then you are in the air.


more about levels of turns

If there is a change of level during a turn, level markings are shown in the turn sign. 


Placement of level markings has time value.  Level changes may occur at the beginning, end, middle, or throughout a turn.  Note that part of the turn sign is always left open for the pin to show amount of turning.


more about amount of turn

For more than one turn use numbers, or a combination of numbers and pins.


Theory Background

The Laban System of notation is about the body moving within the surrounding space as experienced by the dancer rather than as seen from the outside.  Therefore as you turn, front goes with you, so that directions for travel and gestures are taken from your own front rather than from the front of the room or performance space.  Turning itself is also bodily oriented, in that the longitudinal axis of the body is the axis for turning, regardless of whether you are standing up or lying down (more advanced theory deals with sommersaulting and cartwheeling).