Harmony

 

 from the greek root meaning "joint, agreement, concord”       From the Greek root meaning “joint, agreement, concord”

Space harmony deals with the form of movement.

Laban created a parallel between music and movement, assuming that there exist rules in movement that organize it just as there are rules in music that structure sound and its composition.

He used the term harmony in many instances in Choreutics and Choreographie, evidence that it was a major reference to give structure and meaning to movement. Overall harmonic movement is intended as what permits the flow of movement as opposed to boundness. The spatial laws that govern this harmony are:

  • laws of equilibrium: how directions within the kinesphere links to stability (3D in dimensional scale) and lability (diagonal directions, linked to harmony as allowing a flow of movement)
  • law of flowing-from-the-centre: each movement initiated by any part of the body starts from the centre or affects it (responsible for sequentiality and connectivity in the body)
  • law of countermovement: each movement happening in one or more directions contains its stabilizing counterpart

(Laban, 1926, p.18, 29, 76 and Laban, 1966, p.29, 67, 82, 106)

The application in movement of these main harmonic laws defines the choreological order. It defines dance-logic, therefore the anticipation for the performer and the watcher of where the movement will go next.

26_Directions_with_symbols

Looking for movement that would promote harmony, therefore flow, Laban developed many scales within the various polyhedrons he created based on the 26 main directions constitutive of  the kinesphere. Of particular interest for the movement researcher were the constantly three-dimensional A-scale, and its mirror image the B-scale, which execution he wanted to be figured out by the performer as opposed to prescribed (1966, p.111)[1].

He observed that these scales when performed simultaneously by two dancers looked like a defense-attack movement scale (ibid, p.34). He had understood that one of the original motivations for man to move was survival, and fighting instinct followed universal rules of movement due to the structure of the human body, which are enclosed in any martial art form. Around the same time as Laban, Morihei Ueshiba developed a martial art in Japan that used these harmonic laws to achieve survival with a peaceful scope: Aikido.

In today’s works, harmony is rarely displayed as such, but often refers to a way to deal with chaos and order.

William Forsythe proposes “perfect disorder” (Gilpin & Baudoin, 2004): the deconstruction in space of the highly organized form of ballet, keeping its clarity but exploding the shapes at a high speed, thus giving time for movement only to be perceived and not interpreted by the viewer.

Instead, Rosemary Lee with Square dances creates a non-conventional order in London’s chaos by actively re-connecting its community to a sense of belonging: four public squares in the middle of the city host the movements of an intergenerational cast of performers, divided by age and gender. Through choral movement and spatial structure, the dancers perform material that is individual in its vertical dimension, but collective in the horizontal open and inclusive traditional group structures, using a shared intuitive sense of time. Allowing the spectators in, this choreographic work brings a sense of equality while displaying individual journeys and aspirations, giving all involved the time to feel for one self and for each other.

Now go to Lability


[1] To access these scales, a Laban App is available on iPhone and iPad, that will be more representative than any video and encourage individual practice

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