Laban Movement Theory
Laban Movement Theory is a method of experiencing, interpreting, and notating all aspects of human movement created by Hungarian dancer and choreographer Rudolf Laban (1879-1958). Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is being used increasingly by conductors to help them understand how they move, identify their “movement signatures,” and offer them a wider palette of choices for expressivity. To understand how Laban can be applied to conducting, consider reading the texts below published by GIA. I contributed chapters that outline the basics of using Laban in gesture and rehearsal.
The four branches of Laban are Body, Shape, Space and Effort. All four have applications for conductors. Effort is frequently discussed due to its flexibility in changing aspects of Time, Weight, Space and Flow in gesture. In the book chapter above, entitled "Portal to Expressivity: Laban's States and Drives," I describe effort in great detail and how it can be customized to produce varying gestural ideas.
For many summers I have had the pleasure of team-teaching conducting at Westminster Choir College with colleague and noted pedagogue James Jordan. I focus on Laban and other movement methods in graduate and undergraduate choral conducting courses at University of Washington. Student videos available for viewing here.
Laban principles are useful for everyone, including singers. For the book chapter above, entitled "Incorporating Laban Actions in the Rehearsal," I composed 68 melodies that reflect "Float, Glide, Press, Wring, Flick, Dab, Slash and Punch". I also described how individual musical elements such as dynamics, texture and color could correspond to specific efforts.