Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Choreutic Lines and Planes

Choreutic Lines and Planes
Submitted by Jeffrey Longstaff - September 4, 2001
Originally posted on CMAPlus, July 12, 2001
Below is a short review of a 'theory issue' which I would be interested in anyone's responses to.
Concepts of lines and planes are fundamental to choreutics.
An infinite variety of tilted orientations of lines and planes (eg. tilted planar forms such as mixed 4-rings or cubic3-rings) can be distinguished from the precise orientations of dimensional lines and 'Cartesian' or 'Cardinal' planes. 'Cartesian' referring to Descartes' geometric coordinate system and 'Cardinal' referring to the cognitive importance of purely dimensional orientations.
A core feature of the choreutic conception was identifying the anatomical cardinal planes as each being lengthened more along one dimension than the other. Accordingly they were referred to as "dimensional planes" (Ullmann, L., In Laban, R. Choreutics, 1966, p. 142) since each cardinal plane was envisioned as being essentially tied to the character of one of the dimensions which is envisioned as widening into one of the planes so that "the dimensions are not felt by the body as lines but as planes" (Ibid. pp. 139-141). Because they were conceived as dimensional planes, each was named with the dimension which is its largest component, namely the 'vertical plane' is lengthened along the vertical dimension, the sagittal plane is lengthened along the sagittal dimension, and the horizontal plane is lengthened along the horizontal dimension.
As choreutic conceptions have become more refined, such as reviving the use of a dodecahedral-shaped scaffolding, the concepts of the cardinal planes become more complicated. It is clearly illustrated in the recent article by Carol Schouboe and Pam Schick (Movement News, 2001, 26, Spring, pp. 8-14) how each of the cardinal planes within a dodecahedral scaffolding is lengthened along a different dimension than the traditional cardinal planes within an icosahedral scaffolding.
Because of the reversal in the major dimension for each of the cardinal planes, it prompts a question of how it can still make sense to conceive of a horizontally stressed plane as being a 'vertical' plane. The same counter-intuitive issue arises for the other two cardinal planes. Does it make sense to consider a vertically stressed plane as a sagittal plane, or to consider a sagittally stressed plane as horizontal?
This same issue arises when other types of scaffolding are used. For example when conceiving of octahedral or cubic (or cuboctahedral) shaped scaffolding, the cardinal planes have equal components of both dimensions. In this case they are not 'dimensional planes' at all and so the question arises as to whether it makes logical sense to conceive of these types of planes according to the same concepts as the planes which are lengthened along one of the dimensions.
In the face of these variously shaped cardinal planes it may be clarifying to develop concepts which are not specific to only one type of planar shape (the traditional 'dimensional planes'), but can be applied in the analysis of all types of possible planar shapes. The first discipline in which to consider other types of bodily-planar concepts is obviously in the field of anatomy and kinesiology. Even a brief overview of conceptions of anatomical planes reveals that while there may be some regularity of the concepts used, there is also a great deal of variability. For example the concepts of 'sagittal plane', 'median plane', 'midline plane', and 'anteroposterior plane' are relatively synonymous. Some variability arises as to whether the plane is considered to pass directly through the body centre or not, resulting in further concepts such as 'median sagittal plane' or 'mid-sagittal plane'. In addition, since this plane has a vertical component it is also often considered to a 'vertical plane'.
These same types of myriad concepts also occur for the other two cardinal planes. In the case of the traditional choreutic 'vertical plane', it is also conceived according to the relatively synonymous concepts of 'frontal plane', 'coronal plane', and because this plane contains the side-side dimension it is also sometimes conceived as a 'lateral plane'.
Concepts for dimensions are often equally variable and mingle with the planar concepts. For example since a sagittal line is parallel to the floor it is also frequently described as being horizontal.
With the intention of having available planar concepts which are distinct from dimensional concepts, the anatomical categories need to be considered (of which only a brief summary will be considered here).
The concept of 'sagittal' is derived from the Latin for 'arrow' and so appears to be more of a dimensional concept, while 'median' (or 'medial') is derived from 'middle' and so is closer to the conception of a plane which divides left from right.
The concept of 'horizontal' is derived from the Greek for the boundary of a circle as so appears to be closest to a planar concept. While, 'lateral' is derived from the Latin concept of 'side' or sideways, and so appears to be closer to a dimensional concept.
'Vertical' comes from the Latin 'vertex', that is, the highest point directly overhead, and so appears to be closest to a dimensional concept. While the concept of 'frontal' is derived from the Latin for 'facade' or 'forehead' and so appears to be closer to a planar concept.
If these conceptions are used, it firstly allows each of the cardinal planes to be considered distinct from any particular dimensional stress, and secondly allows a concise analysis of the different dimensional stresses for the cardinal planes within variously shaped kinespheric scaffolding. For example:
. . . . . . .Icosahedral planes . . . . . .Dodecahedral planes
. . . . . . . .Vertical stress . . . . . . . . .Lateral Stress
. . . . . . . . Sagittal stress . . . . . . . .Vertical stress
. . . . . . . . Lateral stress . . . . . . . .Sagittal stress
While these conceptions are not 'pure Laban', they do bring choreutic concepts closer to those of the closely related science of kinesiology and also can provide greater clarity as choreutic practice expands to use other types of scaffolding beyond the traditional icosahedron.
What are people's reactions and assessments to this development of choreutic concepts?

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