BIMA Dance and Theater Co-lab – Laban Movement Analysis

The Dance and Theatre majors came together for an introduction to Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). LMA is a method and language for describing and interpreting human movement, originating from the work of dance artist/theorist Rudolph Laban.

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This was a natural opportunity for collaboration between the Dance and Theatre majors– both art forms rely on the body as the principal tool in the storytelling process. As actors and dancers we use our bodies to communicate on the stage – we need to understand and control our bodies so that our characters can be created from a blank physical slate, and embodied with specificity.

Our workshop focused on Laban’s eight Effort Actions. Effort, also called Dynamics, is a system for understanding the subtle differences in the way a movement is performed with respect to our inner intentions. The idea is that every movement is controlled and directed by subconscious states. As actors and dancers we can access these intentions through movement – motion can evoke emotion. Laban helps performers create momentary moods and definitive personality characteristics through movement and vocal expression.

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The participants began by exploring the eight Effort Actions physically. They moved through the rehearsal room trying out the extremes and subtleties of Dab, Flick, Float, Glide, Press, Punch, Slash, and Wring. Each Effort Action is a unique combination of Weight (Heavy or Light), Space (Direct or Indirect), and Time (Sudden or Sustained). We identified characters from plays, books, and movies who seem to embody these characteristics: Float brings to mind Luna Lovegood, while Glide might conjure an image of Glinda, and Flick evokes Puck or Ariel.

After our physical exploration we brought the Effort Actions into our voices, exploring first a common text, and then applying them to individual monologues. We ended with a participants sharing their monologues and made some exciting discoveries about how applying the Effort Actions can help us find vivid characterizations, nuanced delivery, and a deepen connection between action and emotion. Not bad for two and a half hours!

- BIMA Theater instructor Lynda Bachman

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