Laban movement and body awareness

Rudolf Laban (1879-1958) was a movement theorist, a choreographer and a dancer. He is considered a pioneer of modern dance. His name is most widely known in connection with ‘Labanotation’ – a system he invented for analyzing and recording movement in written form. He was a prolific choreographer, a life-long educator, and a specialist movement researcher. His work changed the perception of movement in all performance and inspired a whole new type of movement practice. For a long time, the Laban movement method was primarily used for dancers and dance choreography to discover new ways to move. In the 80s and 90s, it began being used to help actors and improve performances.

Laban categorized human movement into four component parts:

  1. Direction
  2. Weight
  3. Speed
  4. Flow

Each of the above parts has two elements:

  1. a) Direction is either direct or indirect.
  2. b) Weight is either heavy or light.
  3. c) Speed is either quick or sustained.
  4. d) Flow is either bound or free.

Laban then combined these parts together to create

The Eight Efforts:

  1. Wring, 2. Press, 3. Flick, 4. Dab, 5. Glide, 6. Float, 7. Punch, 8. Slash

An Effort can be understood as a way of identifying the ‘quality’ of our movement during action: the sensation or feel that our movement has both for ourselves and others.

It is useful to focus on Effort because it the way we move rules our physical expression. This, in turn, expresses something of who we are and what we are thinking and feeling. By consciously creating a useful and rich movement vocabulary, we enhance body awareness, as well as new ways of expressing oneself with confidence.