·         Dab

·         Flick

·         Punch

·         Slash

·         Glide

·         Float

·         Wring

·         Press

Out of the 8 basic movements, I found ‘punch’ and ‘press’ the hardest to do as they both required strong emotion to  be carried out. On the other hand, I really felt in my element when we were required to act ‘float’ and ‘slash’ as they were indirect and more free. I also found ‘wring’ easy although the idea that is often behind it (agony, despair) is not gentle, as is with ‘float’. Another aspect I liked about ‘wring’ was the fact that we were on the ground and could not see others and they could not see me. This way, I felt as though I could truly act how I thought ‘wring’ should be acted. 


I found this class very helpful as now I understand that characters are not just defined by their emotions, but also their movements and that emotions are even defined by these movements sometimes. I can see how they would be very useful to actors as one can start with just a few, put them together and from there, very easily develop the emotions and mannerisms of their character. 


Summary of Laban handout


Rudolf von Laban was a German, born in 1879. Through the work of his 8 basic efforts, he played a significant role in the evolution of dance in Germany. His approach extended beyond dance into other forms of movement and into drama.

His work classifies movement into 8 Basic Efforts, which describe the inner impulse in terms of physical movement. His work specifically focuses on how the action is carried out. He also invented a method of writing choreography down on paper, much like one does with sheet music.


—The Language of Movement—

Laban’s approach to movement involves locating the 4 essential elements of any movement.

–Space: and its relationship to a movement. Space encompasses both the bodies in the space and the bodies moving through space.

–Time: rhythm and pace of movement.

–Weight: an indicative of whether the movement was with or against the movement. Unlike classical dancers at the time, Laban’s embraced the weight around him and used it to his advantage. He realised that for every muscular contraction there is a release.

–Flow: an element of continuous and uninterrupted movements, but jerky, interrupted movements also have a flow.

Each exists on a continuum ranging from one extreme of freedom in movement to the other extreme of confinement in movement, or restriction. A movement can be placed at any point along the continuum.


—Laban’s 8 Basic Efforts—

Laban’s work can be used to classify any movement. 






1.       It is important for actors to study Laban’s work on movements because it can’t greatly aid actors in the development of characters. ‘It explores the relationship between external image and inner urge.’

2.       Space, weight, time and flow of movement are the essential components to Laban’s work on movements.

3.       Laban’s use of weight is very different to that of a classical dancer. While classical dancers try to escape that gravitational downward pull, Laban makes use of the weight around him to his advantage.

4.       Kinetography is Laban’s method of writing choreography as one would write sheet music.

5.       The extremes on Laban’s continuum of flow are ‘free’ and ‘restricted’.

6.       Rhythm and Pace are the two elements that make up time in Laban’s language of movement.

7.       The rhythm is the beat. Eg. The rhythm of typing on a computer is irregular however the rhythm of walking is often very regular.

8.       Pace is the speed of the rhythm.

9.       The extremes on the continuum of weight are obviously light and heavy. Eg. Floating is light but pressing is heavy.

10.   The eight basic efforts are







February 24, 2009. Laban.

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