Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Choreutics or Space Harmony?

Choreutics or Space Harmony?
Contributed by Leslie Bishko et al. – November 29, 2005

[Following is a reprint of a discussion that took place on the CMAlist.

Discussion 1
Posted by Leslie Bishko, September 21, 2005
[Responding to an e-mail from Jeffrey Longstaff]

A question - before I start using the terms Choreutics and Space Harmony interchangeably, are they generally used interchangeably or does Choreutics mean something slightly different than Space Harmony? Is there some historical shade of meaning I am missing?

Discussion 2
Posted by Jeffrey Longstaff, September 29, 2005

Choreutics or space harmony? Are these synonymous?

I do use them as synonymous.

The only difference I make, ... is that "Choreutics" was Laban's initial title, and so this sometimes can also refer to the older versions and ideas.

"Space Harmony", I use as meaning the same thing, ... though I believe this term came from USA?

Though I am SURE, that in the Choreutic writings, the term, or the idea of "space Harmony" appears.

So, I use these 2 as meaning the same.

Discussion 3
Posted by Karen Bradley – September 29, 2005

So Jeffrey, then is the term Eukinetics the same as Effort? VPD told me the terms are not the same. Would love your insight into this.

Discussion 4
Posted by Jeffrey Longstaff, September 30, 2005


I guess I usually think of Eukinetics as the earlier style / conception of effort, ... in Europe.

Then, I usually think of Effort, as being the style / concept emerging during the work-study projects in England 1940s and onward.

Discussion 5
Posted by Jan Pforsich, October 1, 2005

RE: both Chor. and Eukinetics: I believe that today Choreutics and Space Harmony are synonymous, however I do not think they were and I have always wondered if they should be. On the other hand Eukinetics seems to be an earlier form of Effort material and is more like an historical/ theoretical evolution. I usually mention this in my teaching in NY cert programs. Maybe there are some of you out there who remember historical discussions and can add to this.

Briefly, coming from personal discussions in 1970's with Lisa Ullmann and Sigurd Leeder and maybe Martin Gleissner, I was given the impression that 20's and 30's classes studied "Space Harmony" forms and "Eukinetics". The classes in Space harmony were the study and development of the scales and Laban choreographed many dances which he performed with Ruth Loesser entitled abstractly. e.g. "The dance of the lower right diagonal." What I am getting at here was his mathematical, architectural, and if I may say "post-modern" abstract aesthetic exploration. Of course he would find the 'drama' in this lower right diagonal.

In Eukinetics classes, to quote Leeder "we would explore, oh..ah.. "wiggling" movement for example" or some other dynamic/evocative/emotional idea as the source for moving and choreographing. But not space forms. The four motion factors etc were not set forth. Dusia Bereska was beloved by Leeder as the Eukinetics teacher. These dramatic concepts were equally valued as an aesthetic for performance and composition. I am unclear if 'affinities' between space and effort/dynamics were in play at that time as theory; am thinking that concept/direct relationship came later in 40's with Jooss at Dartington and the Effort clarification with Lawrence.

I sense if you were a student of Laban in the early years, you explored and embraced many aesthetics in your growth as a dancer or teacher.

So..In the preface to Laban's Choreutics he sets out the theory of circles, choreology, and - the "third subject" is stated as "choreutics, may be explained as the practical study of the various forms of (more or less) harmonised movement." He makes a big deal about the second subject- choreology- as only the scientific study of geometric forms and science of circles. Choreutics is more than that. He doesn't say that harmonized movement is "Space" only although he says 'forms'. He develops the whole notion of MOVEMENT as a 'Dynamosphere," as "LIVING architecture" and he is integrating Space and Effort and Body and Notation work. I have long felt that what he wanted us to take away here was the synthesis of his life's work - the WHOLE of his movement analysis system- and that being called "Choreutics". It is as if what we call LMA would equal Choreutics!

On the other hand Choreutics is a book predominantly about space forms. Hence we choose to view it mostly in that light. I think Irmgard and I, and probably others though I can't speak for them, felt that Choreutics was a hard word to use and market as a class title or concept title in the US, especially in the 70's and 80's when pressure was on quantitative demonstration of a systematic analysis of movement (research with Davis and other psychological/non-verbal people, Lomax and choremetrics, Margaret Fries, dance notation, etc). Choreutics was WAY too mystical. So she/we chose to entitle courses "space harmony" when they were mainly studying the space forms rather than 'choreutics'. And stayed away from the use of the word choreutics since it seemed to be a larger concept as well. In that way I guess you could say we evolved the use of the two terms as synonymous. Although when you think of it in Laban's perspective we have probably gone backwards, de-evolving the concept of Space Harmony to Choreutics, back to Space Harmony

Discussion 6
Posted by Karen Bradley, October 1, 2005

Thanks, Jan--this is actually very helpful in terms of the book I am working on and jibes completely with what I understood about Bereska especially.

I'd love to hear about any other perspectives on the old-vs.-the new theory. I was so surprised when Valerie described effort as only applicable to industry (although in subsequent closer readings of Mastery of Movement, it is clear that that is Valerie's take, not Laban's.)

Discussion 7
Posted by Ellen Goldman, October 4, 2005

Just catching up about this...I think there are slightly different connotations to the terms, as the Choreutics relates to the Greek, as Laban mentions, meaning study of circles, I believe (Book not with me at this time to check.) Space Harmony, (harmonizing space) certainly has its stylistic impression, as it is not a common way we talk about space.

Would love to know how the term developed. Thanks for asking the question...as it is always a question on the exam, it is good to re-think about it.

Discussion 8
Posted by Stacey Hurst, October 4, 2005
[Responding to Ellen Goldman]

In [your] email you say you’d “love to know how the term choreutics developed”. Are you asking why or how Laban studied circles and what it has to do with Space Harmony or simply about that particular word? I can speak to the former based on the studies that Carol-Lynne Moore developed from her work in the Laban archives in Surrey, London. It’s part of what the GLCMA students study in our program.

Discussion 9
Posted by Antja Kennedy, October 5, 2005

I would like to add on to what Jan wrote.

In Labans book "Choreographie" (1926) in German he talks about “Spatial Order” and “Harmony” and describes most of the spatial scales, but he does not call it "Choreutik" nor "Space Harmony". As Jan describes in his choreographies he uses the Space Harmony material sometimes very purely (even to the point of boring his audiences - as Evelyn Dörr shows through press citations in her Book "Rudolf Laban - Das Choreographische Theater"!).

In the 20ies and 30ies most Laban schools used the term "Choreutik". Therefore in Germany today it not only sounds old, it is old! We also have the problem that in some schools today "Choreutik" is taught in a very simplistic and reductionist way. In the Laban/Bartenieff community in Germany - we use "Raumharmonie" (Space Harmony) since it is clearer just from the words, it sounds more modern and we also want to make clear that we have a different approach to this material.

In Germany "Eukinetik" is still taught in Folkwang School (where Joss taught) and they do not mention Flow at all! Basically they only look at the Action Drive combinations. So defiantly "Effort", what it was called later in England, is more complete by including Flow and all the possible States and Drives. We therefore use "Antrieb" in the German Laban/Bartenieff community - so we can distinguish ourselves from the old version of "Eukinetik". "Antrieb" is also used in the German literature - it actually literally translates to "drive" or "the inner driving mechanism".

Regarding affinities: In his first book "Die Welt des Tänzers" (1920) one gets the feeling everything is affined with everything else - he goes all over the map in one paragraph! In "Choreographie" he takes a spatial perspective, but he also includes what was considered Effort at the time -but not the way we do today! (You have to remember that 1926 is the prime time of "Ausdruckstanz" - which was mainly about Effort!) In his book "Choreutics" the affinities are spelled clearly in the chapters about the "Dynamosphere". If you compare these texts with one another - you can defiantly say that he is much clearer in the English text.

In all the books you get the sense that there is a holistic approach to movement. Still in the book that he writes in his period of sickness and re-orientation in the first years in England he uses the space perspective as his in-road, but he feeds in the bodily and Effort perspectives (more than in “Choreographie”). He never got around to publishing the book himself - so I wonder if Laban really would called this book "Choreutics". Maybe a better title would have been something like: "Harmony in Movement through the space perspective"....?!

Discussion 10
Posted by Wanda Ottes, October 5, 2005

It is now going to be very confusing ........Shouldn't we ask Marian North, or even better Valerie Preston-Dunlop, at Laban's in London, what they think about this? They both worked with Laban and specially Valerie has been the person specialized in Space Harmony.

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