Movement analysis is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end, a way to solve a problem or discover something. One way I encourage students to apply observation and analysis is through a Challenge Session.
The Challenge Session is a carefully structured class in which students are asked to observe videotaped material and answer a question. I have chosen the material, analyzed it myself, and framed the question – ideally one that can be answered in more than one way.… Read More
As students are grappling with the general concepts and descriptive terms of Laban Movement Analysis, they often ask hypothetical questions. For example, “If I were on board a ship crossing the international dateline while balancing an ice cream cone on my nose, would that be lightness?”
Laban Movement Analysis may be a parsimonious taxonomy of abstract terms, but it was developed to provide an empirical description of concrete physical actions. So whenever I get a hypothetical question like the one above, I always ask the student to demonstrate.… Read More
It has taken me years to realize that Laban’s movement analysis system is abstract. The descriptive terms are quite general. Take effort – there are only four motion factors and eight effort qualities for describing any movement a human being can do. This means that the same effort quality can be in movements that look nothing alike, occur in different contexts, and are performed for different reasons.
A student can do strong movements in the studio and concretely experience the physical sensation of increasing pressure.… Read More
Human movement exists at a perpetual vanishing point, disappearing even as it is occurring. With no fixed points, movement is devilishly difficult to observe, let alone to pin down and analyze.
Thank goodness for video recording. The rewind button makes it possible for students to see the same event repeated exactly as many times as they need. Live observation, of course, is richer. It is life size, genuinely three-dimensional, and many fine details blurred on a video recording are clearer in the flesh.… Read More
Learning to analyze movement takes time. Because at least 60% of human communication is estimated to be nonverbal and behavioral, everyone has developed his or her own way of seeing and coding movement. That is, everyone possesses body knowledge and body prejudices. Learning to observe movement objectively using Laban’s taxonomy of effort and space necessitates setting aside pre-existing approaches.
In my own development as a movement analyst, I found I “went blank” for a while when first attempting to observe a movement event.… Read More
Observation is the most demanding of all the skills involved in mastering Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). I must confess to being a slow learner. While I have been teaching observation for over 35 years, it has taken me a long time to grasp why so many students struggle and emerge, even after a year of Certificate Program training, still feeling very insecure about using LMA as an observer.
In the following blogs I share 5 tips for teaching movement observation and analysis.… Read More
Throughout this series of blogs, I have been stressing the importance of finding friends outside the field of movement study. These friends are not movement professionals themselves, nor are they “true believers” in the power and significance of movement. They are not dancers, athletes, or “Labanites.” Instead, they come with a different outlook and skill set and often need to be persuaded that there really is something to this thing called movement analysis.
Professor Timothy Colton, a political scientist at Harvard, is a case in point.… Read More
F.C. Lawrence became a friend of movement study through his devotion to Laban and his visionary capacity to see the potential of this field. Daniel Ellis, a member of Lawrence’s staff, became a friend of movement study only grudgingly, and for very different reasons. Here is his story.
Daniel Ellis, an industrial engineer brought up on stop-watch studies, aggressively pursued increased productivity from the workers of client companies. Hard-driving and unrelenting to the core, Ellis was outspoken in his skepticism of everything to do with Laban.… Read More
Within the Laban community, F.C. Lawrence has been regarded merely as Rudolf Laban’s “groupie.” Indeed, Warren Lamb, who worked closely with both men, observed in his unpublished autobiography that “Lawrence became so attached to Laban as to hang on his every word, promoting him (often much to my embarrassment) in guru-like terms.”
Lamb goes on to note that Lawrence “was not the most obvious candidate to partner Laban.” Lawrence was not a movement person. He was, however, one of the first management consultants in England, professionally qualified as both an engineer and an accountant.… Read More
Eden Davies’s introduction to movement study began in 1965 when she started to work for Warren Lamb’s English consulting firm. Lamb appeared to her to be a successful young businessman with a remarkable method of assessing aptitude. Davies’s job was to sit in while Lamb interviewed clients, discuss the notes Lamb had taken (“neat hieroglyphics with verbal notes like ‘raised left arm’”), then write a report for the client. She only caught glimpses of another side of the businessman – through photos of him as a dancer and references to summer movement schools.… Read More