Using a Laban Lens

Several posts ago, I wrote about a Laban Movement Analysis course that focuses on dance making inspired by Laban’s movement choir theory. We’ve been working on collaboratively creating a piece as guided by instructor Frederick Curry.

Our process first involved viewing four dance clips that we analyzed as a group using a Laban lens, looking specifically for Body, Effort, Shape or Space qualities. Once everyone agreed on the main themes that each piece exemplified, each of us created a dance phrase using some of those specific movement qualities.

We identified an African piece for “Body,” that involved isolations of the torso, head, and shoulders as the dancers performed in a kneeling position. The “Effort” piece was a segment of “May B” by Compagnie Maguy Marin, which used vocalization rather than music; “Shape” was a classical Indian dance; followed by a Butoh piece for “Space,” that was heavily focused on gesture and the various ways the dancers’ related to their environment.

Then, with Curry acting as the movement choir director, we have created one piece using those phrases or elements from the phrases. The piece itself has a strong framework, but ends up being slightly different each time we perform it because the movements are organic. For example, the piece requires us to take some cues in complete silence, just by watching and responding to the other dancers.

This whole process has not only reinforced the basics of LMA that we had learned in a previous class, but it has been a joint creative experience that could be easily used as a movement or choreographic exercise in any dance classroom.

While our class creation looks nothing like the dance clips we saw, the choreography is clearly inspired by the pieces and the specific lens we viewed them through. We are interested in the responses we’ll get to the piece after members of the dance department and the New York LMA community come to a showing on April 28.

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