Every concept that we recognize is recognizable because there is some pattern. All these patterns need a special language to describe them. This is especially so in the world of chair massage – www.Eventschairmassage.com – dance, movement and somatics. The unique language that transformed these fields was Laban movement analysis (LMA). LMA, is a method and language for describing, visualizing, interpreting and documenting human movement. It is based on the original work of Rudolf Laban. Rudolf von Laban, also known as Rudolf von Laban ( (15 December 1879 – 1 July 1958), was a Hungarian born dance artist and theorist. He is notable as one of the pioneers of modern dance in Europe. His work laid the foundations for Laban Movement Analysis, Labanotation (Kinetography Laban), other more specific developments in dance notation and the evolution of many varieties of Laban Movement Study. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of dance and somatics.
Enrolled by his father as a cadet in the Military Academy at Wiener Neustadt, he left to study architecture at the Écoles des Beaux Arts in Paris. During his stay in Paris, Laban became interested in the relationship between the moving human form and the space which surrounds it. He then moved to Munich at age 30 and under the influence of seminal dancer/choreographer Heidi Dzinkowska began to concentrate on the movement arts spending the summer months of 1913 and 14 directing the school for the Arts at the alternative community at Monte Verita, Switzerland.
One of his great contributions to dance was his 1928 publication of Kinetographie Laban, a dance notation system that came to be called Labanotation and is still used as one of the primary movement notation systems in dance. His theories of choreography and movement are now foundations of modern dance and dance notation (choreology). Later they were applied in other fields, including cultural studies, leadership development, and non-verbal communication theory.
Laban developed the art of movement choir, wherein large numbers of people move together in some choreographed manner, but that can include personal expression. This aspect of his work was closely related to his personal spiritual beliefs, based on a combination of Victorian theosophy, Sufism, and popular fin de siecle Hermeticism. By 1914 he had joined the Ordo Templi Orientisa a metaphysically based secret society
He was greatly assisted in his dance teaching during these years by his close associate and long-term partner Lisa Ullmann. Their collaboration led to the founding of the Laban Art of Movement Guild (now known as The Laban Guild for Movement and Dance) in 1945 and the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester in 1946. Laban was a friend of Carl Jungand Josef Pilates (inventor of the Pilates method of physical fitness).
In 1947, he published a book Effort, Fordistic study of the time taken to perform tasks in the workplace and the energy used. He tried to provide methods intended to help workers to eliminate “shadow movements” (which he believed wasted energy and time) and to focus instead on constructive movements necessary to the job in hand. He published Modern Educational Dance in 1948 when his ideas on dance and somatics-oreinted thinking for all including children were taught in many British schools.
Among Laban’s students, friends, and associates were Mary Wigman, Kurt Jooss, Lisa Ullmann, Albrecht Knust, Lilian Harmel, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Hilde Holger, Gertrud Kraus, Gisa Geert, Warren Lamb, Elizabeth Sneddon, Yat Malmgren and Irmgard Bartenieff.
LMA draws from multiple fields including anatomy, kinesiology and psychology. It is used by dancers, actors, musicians and athletes; by health professionals such as physical and occupational therapists and psychotherapists; and in anthropology, business consulting and leadership development.
Laban movement analysis is generally divided into four categories:
- Body (Bartenieff Fundamentals, total-body connectivity)
- Effort (Energetic dynamics)
- Space (Choreutics, space harmony)
Other categories, that are occasionally mentioned in some literature, are relationship and phrasing. These are less well defined. Relationship is the interaction between people, body parts or a person and an object. Phrasing is defined as being the personal expression of a movement.
These categories are in turn occasionally divided into kinematic and non-kinematic categories to distinguish which categories relate to changes to body relations over time and space.
The body category describes structural and physical characteristics of the human body while moving. This category is responsible for describing which body parts are moving, which parts are connected, which parts are influenced by others, and general statements about body organization.
Several subcategories of body are:
- Initiation of movement starting from specific bodies;
- Connection of different bodies to each other;
- Sequencing of movement between parts of the body; and
- Patterns of body organization and connectivity, called “patterns of total body square connectivity”, “developmental hyper movement patterns”, or “neuromuscular shape-shifting patterns”.
Effort, or what Laban sometimes described as dynamics, is a system for understanding the more subtle characteristics about movement with respect to inner intention. This concept is very important in Somatics for it is a clarity of intention that takes this work from the domain of excerise, and fitness into the realm of personal development, human potential and healing. The difference between punching someone in anger and reaching for a glass is slight in terms of body organization – both rely on extension of the arm. The attention to the strength of the movement, the control of the movement and the timing of the movement are very different and this is tied to intention.
When my team at the NYC Chair Massage Company – www.eventschairmassage.com – offers stress management programs we are always concerned with which come first; the body or the mind.
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