Laban Movement Studies

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The Laban Movement Studies (egl. Laban Movement Analysis , LMA) are a theory of body movement founded by the Hungarian dancer and dance theorist Rudolf von Laban (1879–1958) and further developed by Irmgard Bartenieff in the USA after the Second World War . The movement studies are used in the areas of dance , theater and sport , but also in dance therapy , psychotherapy , physiotherapy and non-verbal communication .

Six categories of movement

In the Laban Movement Analysis nowadays six categories are distinguished, answer the following questions:


What is moving? What movement is being performed?

Looking at the movement of individual body parts and their relationship to one another creates the prerequisite for recognizing body structure and organization. The activities of the body, the body actions and the body parts which initiate, lead or dominate the movement are recorded. This serves, on the one hand, to understand physical preferences and, on the other hand, enables an approximate objectivity of body-related topics in the observation. Irmgard Bartenieff took over this category from Laban and expanded it considerably (see also Bartenieff Fundamentals ).


Where is the movement going?

With the space harmony theory, Rudolf Laban opens up the relationship between people and the space around them . Similar to architecture , he structures this one-, two- and three-dimensional and uses the Platonic solids (e.g. the icosahedron ) as models for the personal environment (the kinesphere ). The movement scales he created within these models - comparable to musical scales - follow precisely described spatial paths. You train and convey a harmonious sense of space and challenge you to move in previously unknown areas of your own kinesphere. In this way, alertness for the use of space and a larger three-dimensional repertoire of movement are aimed for. In the theory of spatial harmony, Laban movement studies establish harmonious affinities between movements in space and the categories of drive and form .


How is the movement carried out? With what energetic quality?

Laban describes the dynamics of movement, which he calls drive , in various objective terms. The variety of possible modes of expression results from the relation of the movement to the factors weight / strength, flow, space (attention) and time as well as their numerous possible combinations. The analysis of the drive is an important tool for perceiving and naming the quality of non-verbal expression. The drive that is expressed in a movement changes depending on the internal constitution, personal preference for movement or external context.


How is the movement carried out? With which plastic shape change?

The plastic shape of the human body changes with every movement in relation to itself and to its environment. If one observes the form aspect of the movement, it is a matter of describing the process of changing the shape of the body in space. This is based on the natural breathing process . The shaping of our body acts as a strong non-verbal component on our communication through both posture and the change in shape in space . The changes in shape of our body are connected to the aspects of the use of space via affinities and disaffinity. This category was further developed after Laban's death by Warren Lamb , Irmgard Bartenieff and Peggy Hackney .


What is the timing of the movement?

Only the phrasing of a movement in relation to the four categories of movement mentioned above ( body, space, drive and form ) brings out the characteristics of every person's movement behavior. This means the way of structuring and emphasizing movements over time. The phrasing preferences as individual movement patterns can be recognized after some time of observation. This category was further developed by Irmgard Bartenieff and her colleagues, as well as by Vera Maletic and recognized by the European Association for Laban / Bartenieff Movement Studies (EUROLAB) as a separate category.


How does the moving person relate to something or someone?

The relationship of individual body parts to one another, from the moving person to objects or to other people is considered in this category. The degree of relationship differentiates how the body addresses, approaches, touches or supports its counterpart in movements. The moving reference can be on an equal footing or one part is more active, the other more passive. The relationship also looks at the way in which the body fronts position themselves to one another. This category was further differentiated above all by Ann Hutchinson and recognized by EUROLAB as an independent category.

With a total of approx. 60 parameters within the 6 categories, it is possible to differentiate the various aspects of a movement. The aim of Laban movement studies is to both experience and observe the various aspects of movement, to understand and shape them.


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