What are Laban analyses?

(c) 2001 Jeffrey Scott Longstaff

Summary of:
Longstaff, J. S. (2001). What are Laban Analyses? Symposium given at "What is Laban Movement Analysis?" Movement Analysis conference series; Labanotation Institute, University of Surrey; 6 January. (Invited)

What are Laban Analyses?

A broad approach is taken in reply to the title of this conference "What is Laban Movement Analysis" [1] where a global perspective is seen to be essential for encompassing the variety of what might be considered to be ‘Laban’. For example, traditionally as choreutics, effort, shape, Bartenieff fundamentals, and also other methods, Kestenberg rhythms and profiles, integrated movements in the decision-making process as refined by Lamb, and others,... sometimes all referred to collectively as (at various times and places) as 'Laban Analysis', or 'Labananalysis', and 'Laban Movement Analysis', as well as 'Kinetography Laban', 'Laban Notation' or 'Labanotation', and other wider concepts such as 'Laban based' methods, or as “Laban Systems of Movement Analysis” [2], and more. Here, the plurality is emphasised in the general concept of ‘Laban analyses’.

A question arises: Is there an identifiable topic as ‘Laban studies’? Can relative boundaries to the practice / field of study be distinguished, as well as criteria for inclusion? Or have adaptations in specialised fields evolved into entirely separate methods?

Fortunately, no attempt will be made to answer those questions here. Rather, an approach is taken only to survey the range of practices, theories, and methods, such as which might be considered to be associated with those developed by Rudolf Laban and his many colleagues and students, and theirs in return. This should provide a broad documentation of the ‘state of the knowledge’.

Additionally, an internet web format is proposed to allow easy public access and searching of information, as well as giving possibilities for visitors to the web site to easily send data through the internet for new entries or updated data for existing entries.

The project is being established at: http://www.laban-analyses.org as an open resource and research project intending to give a survey of the diversity of applications and practices associated with methods developed by Rudolf Laban and his colleagues and students, and theirs, which have proliferated and diversified throughout the world.

In light of a huge range and diversity of approaches and applications, an attempt to encompass the ‘field’ as a whole can be both a potentially useful,... and a daunting task.

Annotated Bibliography

The research will have as its foundation the development of an annotated bibliography, intended as a broad survey of the works of Rudolf Laban, works of his many colleagues and students, and other works which make specific reference to, or specific utilisation of Laban-related analyses.

These are found in a wide variety of fields, including, anthropology, kinesiology, somatic body training, dance, acting, sports, personal and cognitive psychology, psycho- and physio- therapies, ergonomics / human factors in equipment design, architecture and more. It is this proliferation which prompts the bibliography in an attempt to envision the breadth of studies and methods directly tied to Laban analyses.

One challenge in developing the bibliography will actually be to limit the ever-expanding scope of such a reference list. In some cases, when topics are related to other topics and so forth, it becomes that 'Laban' is related to everything in existence. While true in a sense, in some cases here a 'line' will have to be drawn. It will be endeavoured to include those works which make specific mention of Laban-related studies, an 'acid test' being whether the work specifically makes reference to Rudolf Laban or any of his colleagues and students, or to theirs, or to any of their works, or specifically utilises an analytical or practical method developed out of their works.

Professional Organisations and Practitioners

As a counter-part to the bibliography, and also to address the question "What are Laban analyses?", it is also necessary to survey the diversity of current practices and practitioners, as well as associations and organisations. Accordingly, a database will be developed of organisations and practitioners who teach, promote, practice, or otherwise utilise types of Laban Analyses.

This information will be collected from searches of publicly distributed sources such as advertisements and publicity documents. The internet web format can also provide access for individual organisations or practitioners to send details about themselves, and also the database can provide direct links to all practitioner or organisation web sites.

Public Access

Anyone can browse and search though the site including searching the data bases and web forms for sending entries or annotations to the web editor.

All visitors to this web site will be invited to participate in this research in number of ways.

      1. Send a brief comment to the Web Editor

      2. Send a new Bibliographic Entry to the Web Editor

      3. Send a new Organisation or Practitioner Entry to the Web Editor

Ongoing Research in Progress

The web site http://www.laban-analyses.org is designed as a publicly available work in progress. It is hoped this will encourage contributions from other participants.

Currently there are obvious omissions in the contents of the data bases.

Any inherent bias is not intended, but these mark where the research needs to be directed.

In is a huge project, so will take time. The internet web format provides easy distribution of data while the project slowly grows.


   1.   "What is Laban Movement Analysis?" conference, part of the Movement analysis conference series, was held at the Labanotation Institute, University of Surrey, UK. 6 January 2001. The conference was reviewed by Hoffman, P. Conference reports; What is Laban Movement Analysis. Action Recording, 2001, 89, 2-4.

   2.   Brennan, M. A. Every little movement has a meaning all its own. In S. H. Fraleigh & P. Hanstein; Eds., Researching Dance; Evolving Modes of Inquiry. London: Dance books, 1999, p. 286.