Laban effort︎︎︎
Another methodology for exploring dynamics creatively and expressively can be found in the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) system. In LMA, dynamics are called Effort and as a broad term it refers to the qualitative attributes associated with movement, dance, acting, music and visual arts. Effort is a separate category in the LMA system and subdivided into four distinct components called Effort Factors: Flow, Weight, Time and Space.

Each Factor is divided into two opposing elements for a total of eight individual Effort elements that can be grouped in two and three Effort combinations to express a particular quality. Accessing the qualities is an embodied cognitive process that reflects an inner intention or feeling and this inner intent is then manifested outwardly. The Efforts are the dynamics or qualitative attributes that give a particular look, texture, tone to an artistic work and expression.

The four Effort factors and corresponding Effort elements are described below. You can choose images and situations to help the artist access a particular quality. Keep in mind that all Efforts use is contextual and the LMA terminology can be interchanged with more evocative, poetic language in the process of exploring the qualities.

Flow: Free/Bound

Free: an ongoing, continuous flow of movement has a relaxed look and feel and less muscular tension.

Bound: is more controlled and withheld, requires more muscular tension to express a careful, restrained quality. Note that bound isn’t negative, in a particular context it’s appropriate. Carrying a cup filled to the brim with hot coffee requires a bound use of one’s energy.

Weight: Strong/Light

Strong: is how one applies force and physical strength. For example, in sports strong weight is required block an opponent, in martial arts to be grounded, in dance to push off and jump. In acting strong weight effort is required to convey confidence and power. In music it’s associated with exerting more pressure in the quality of touch to convey a stronger dynamic.

Light: in Romantic 19th century ballets the ballerina on pointe reveals a quality of lightness, an ethereal look. In acting a light weight effort is used for a gentle tone of voice and in music the lightness of touch produces a delicate sound.

Time: It’s important to note that in LMA Time Effort is about how one expresses an inner sense of time and not to be confused with metric time. It’s how one approaches time as in having the impulse to linger in the moment, take more time versus feeling rushed, having not enough time. It’s intuitive.

Sustained: a leisurely quality, drawing out of time as in walking on the beach on a warm summer day in no rush.

Sudden/Quick: the impulse to compress time as in moving quickly out of the way of someone about to bump into you.

Space: In LMA Space Effort is about how one directs their attention to their spatial surrounding.

Indirect: all encompassing, generous attention, scanning everywhere as in looking at all the beautiful objects around you.

Direct: more channeled, condensed quality of attention, honing in on one particular thing.

The above Effort elements can be grouped in three Effort combinations to produce the following qualities.

Float: expresses the combined qualities of lightness, sustained time and indirect attention to space, the image of a balloon floating upwards, the sensation of drifting upwards.

Punch: this quality combines strong use of weight, direct focused attention and quick use of time.  A stomp action is an example of this 3 Effort combination.

Glide: expresses the qualities of lightness, direct focused attention and sustained use of time. It’s a smooth, gentle quality.

Slash: combines strong use of weight or force with sudden and direct efforts. An example – the powerful, wide and sweeping stroke of a sword.

Dab: combines a delicate, quick and direct quality. The artist dabbing a bit of paint on the canvas is an example of this 3 Effort combination.

Wring: expresses a more forceful use of weight with sustained time and indirect attention to space. Wringing out a large towel is an action that combines these three qualities.

Flick: combines a light, quick and indirect quality as in the action of flicking a bit of lint off a jacket.

Press: combines strong, sustained and direct Efforts. An example of Press-pushing a heavy object.

︎︎︎from Cheryl Prophet