Laban / Bartenieff Movement Studies

... for people who work with movement.

The studies consist of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and Bartenieff Fundamentals (BF), and are continually being developed.

This is a system which describes movement precisely thereby enabling clarity when teaching movement.

Every movement can be described through the following categories:

 BODY                          EFFORT           

 SPACE                        SHAPE

RELATIONSHIP           PHRASING

The goal is to appreciate and understand different aspects of movement not only through experiencing and sensing but also through observation.

BODY

Looking at the movement of separate body parts and their relationship to one another enables us to recognize the body’s structure and organization. The goal is to be able to use one’s body like a tool and to be able to describe movement. On the one hand this gives us the means to understand physical preferences, on the other hand it facilitates a certain amount of objectivity when observing movement.

The interplay of body parts and the role they play in movement can be illustrated by looking at an example: observing a person’s gait. Some important questions are: Which body part initiates the movement? In what way are the different body parts involved in the movement? Are parts of the body being held?

EFFORT

Laban succeeded in describing the dynamic aspect of movement objectively.

The appearance and style of a movement changes depending on inner involvement and personal preference. The underlying attitude towards the factors:

weight          flow          space          time

as well as their numerous combinations result in a wide variety of expressions. These are the dynamic qualities of a movement and Laban called them EFFORT. In dance therapy, for example, analysis and conscious use of effort is an important tool to observe, label and expand nonverbal expression.

There are harmonic affinities with aspects from the categories SPACE and SHAPE, which are discussed in Laban’s theory of space harmony.

SPACE

With his theory of space harmony, Rudolf von Laban, explores the relationship between people and their surroundings. Similar to architecture, he structures space one-, two- and three-dimensional and uses the five Plato solids as models for personal space (the kinesphere). Within these models he created movement scales (similar to musical scales), which follow clearly defined pathways. These scales teach a harmonic awareness of space and they challenge us to move in previously unused areas of our own kineshpere. The goal is a better understanding of the use of space and more options for three-dimensional movement.

In his theory of space harmony Laban connects movements in space to the EFFORT and SHAPE categories.

SHAPE

With each movement, the SHAPE of the human body changes in relation to itself and its surroundings. Observing the shape aspect of movement, one aims to describe the process of the body’s shape change in space. This is based on the natural process of breathing.

We get in contact with or withdraw from our environment by changing our body’s shape. Through posture and shape change in space, the shape of our body is a strong nonverbal component of communication. For example: extending a hand in greeting, the effect is altogether different if the person simultaneously draws the torso back or leans forward.

Our body’s shape changes are linked to aspects of space through affinities and disaffinities. In the movement scales (see also SPACE) Rudolf von Laban clearly defined this.

RELATIONSHIP

Whether people (two or more) have a conversation, dance, go for a walk or eat together - they always position themselves towards, next to or away from one another. The category RELATIONSHIP deals with this aspect. It is purely about the characteristics of relationship that are expressed in movement

  • of people
  • of different body parts to one another
  • and the relationship of objects and people

In classical ballet, for example, the relationship between men and women is clearly defined in movement: the man supports the woman in a lift. In modern dance a man could also be supported by a woman, therefore the active part of this relationship has changed.

PHRASING

Only when we consider the PHRASING of a movement with reference to the four aspects that were already mentioned, can we discern the characteristic patterns of a person’s movement. This is the way in which a person structures and stresses a movement. With a bit of practice, this individual pattern can be observed clearly.