How are ballet steps written down?

Watching a tape of the “Jewels” ballet, and got to wondering how ballet steps themselves are written down for other dance companies to perform. (I know less than a thimbleful about ballet, except that the ladies are wonderfully feminine, and generally gorgeous.)


Let’s say Tchaikovsky is commisioned to write Swan Lake. He does so, then a choreographer in the Russian ballet theater organization is tasked with creating the ballet dances. I read somewhare long ago, that there is a “language” (say, like cuneiform?) for writing down a ballet, replete with a vocabulary that describes all the steps all the steps which each dancer performs.

I tried Googling for this language but couldn’t find it. Trouble is I don’t know how to search for it. One thing I did find is a statement that most ballets are not written down. Okay, but that’s just “most.” So, some are written down.

The question is, where on the web might I see examples of this ballet language?

Good basic place to start. Look for Laban or Labanotation.

Thank you, Telemark. Just what I needed.

Nah, this is what you need.

On second thought it’s not exactly as extensive as that wikipedia article, but hey, it’s Cecil.

Agreed, and thanks. But try like I did. Got more than I did from Google.

I searched on

Ballet notation

See the results at