The ‘Laban Technique’ is a phrase much bandied about, but how many of us actually understand the intricacies of the great founder, Rudolf Laban’s work?
Certainly he changed the face of dance with his ground breaking studies into the human body and its capabilities; but what was so special about this man and his approach that has ensured that his work is still extensively studied across the world?
It was during Laban’s early years of study in Paris towards the end of the 19th century that his ideas began to take shape.
This was an exciting time; the complicated political goings-on in Europe contributed to artists coming up with new and challenging ideas and Laban found himself studying sculpture amongst some of the most innovative thinkers in the world.
Laban experienced a revelation in Paris and began questioning the body’s relationship to the space around it and his sculpture enabled him to explore this further. Taking his cues from the physical forms which he studied, he was able to create a technique and language for describing, envisioning and categorising human movements.
Laban’s theories are numerous, interconnected and continually growing and developing as others study his work; one of the most fundamental discoveries is that which he described as ‘Effort’ which is a form for helping dancers and actors to understand the connections between any movement which comes of an impulse and the relationship between this and the effort taken physically in order to achieve it.
These were and still are known as Action Efforts and are used as a key by which performers can interpret emotions into the most realistic combinations of movement.
The theory allows for the Action Efforts to be interchangeable, with certain combinations creating certain feelings or emotions visually…a sort of recipe book for dancers and actors!
Perhaps Laban’s most influential work to date though, concerns his study and theories of Space. Laban looked at the relationship between the body and the environment and formed a way of recording movement almost like that used in music notation.
Rudolf Laban changed the face of dance and is still known as the Father of Modern Dance today. His work allowed dance to be viewed from a scientific and philosophical standpoint and has undoubtedly furthered the art form more than any other technique in the modern era.
(image copyright Conservatoires UK)