Laban originally links the notion of lability to its opposite: “stability” and the concept of “flow”: “the dimensional directions are supporters of stability, while the diagonals ensure the labile flow” (1926, p.75). However, once more, it is the order in which these directions are reached through movement and their pathways that will emphasize or diminish this state of lability.

dimensional directionsdimensional directions linked to stability

diagonal 1diagonal 2 diagonal directions  linked to lability

Lability could be defined as a form that favors disequilibrium and asymmetry, as opposed to stability that favors equilibrium and symmetry. It goes far beyond the action of leaning, going off-centre [1]. Lability is also a state resulting from repetition or duration: practicing the A-scale on one side; spiraling or turning in the same direction for a certain amount of time; going through Richard Serra’s giant sculptures, etc. It presents variable degrees and occurs in the form of movement or in the choreographic form; focus plays a crucial role in maintaining lability over time.

Lability by RosasLability by Yoann Bourgeois

Meaning wise, lability presents affinities with the notions of impermanence and loss of control.

As seen before William Forsythe has re-inserted lability in aesthetic cannons that used to despise it, “so that previously hidden moments in balletic movements are made plainly visible.” (Baudoin & Gilpin, 2004)

By presenting a process of movement research performed in real time, and expecting the spectator to attend it, Forsythe has set the path for many contemporary works that show the research of a form in real time as a product. Such are instant composition or Contact Improvisation performances.

Lability has a poetic content by essence because it shows the moment when control of movement gets lost. When witnessing lability being performed, the viewer will physically relate to this loss of control with sensation of freedom, fear or vertigo, depending on their personal experience with it.

From a performer’s point of view, staying in a labile state requires investing all prior movement and theatrical knowledge into the ability to research the unknown, which finds an infinite path of exploration in interpersonal relationships. The more performers there are and the less rules being set, the more potential lability for a performance.

Next: go to Land of silence


[1] qualifies lability as one of the elementary 11 actions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s