Physically Central, Peripheral; Spatially Central, Physical
Submitted by Ann Hutchinson Guest – November 6, 2006
Originally published in Bullet-In-Stead!: Motif Issues From the Language of Dance Association, Issue 21 (April 2004).
CENTRAL AND PERIPHERAL
Kurt Jooss always regretted that Laban, in codifying his Effort analysis, had dropped the factor of central and peripheral use of space and of the body, which had been part of Eukinetics, the quality of movement explored as part of his modern dance training. Because Laban's focus during the war was on the practical, everyday movements, the expressive content of central and peripheral were not needed. Instead he established the use of space in terms of direct and indirect. A comparison of the elements in Eukinetics with those in Effort is interesting.
As can be seen, Laban dropped focus on use of the body, but, importantly, brought in the aspect of flow, a contribution of particular value in both function and expressive movement.
Physically Central, Peripheral Movement can involve the central part of the body, that is, various parts of the torso, the most central being the waist, once could say the solar plexus. The movement may remain central or it may originate centrally and flow out. Each limb has its 'central' part and its peripheral part.
Of the torso, the shoulder (shoulder line) or the 'tail', the base of the spine, are the relative peripheral parts.
For the arm the central part is the shoulder and upper arm. The peripheral part is the hand. For the upper arm, the peripheral part is the elbow and when that is the focus of the movement, the lower arm and hand are passive, 'out of the way'.
For the hand, the wrist (the base of the hand) is the central part and the fingertips the most peripheral part.
Similarly, but with less ability to articulate, the leg has the hip and thigh as the central part, the toes being the peripheral part. Movements of the lower leg are more peripheral than the thigh. The ankle is the central part of the foot with the toes the peripheral part. Movement exploration for these various parts will reveal the possibilities, the degree to which the movement can be relatively or markedly central or peripheral.
Spatially Central, Peripheral For the individual performer, movement within the kinesphere is spatially central when it is in the area close to the body, the torso. Imagine a vertical column around the upright torso, a column within which the spatially central movements take place. In the upward direction, movement beyond the head would be emerging in the peripheral area. Peripheral space is at or near the extremity of the kinesphere.
Affinities Obviously central parts of the body move more comfortably in central space. Equally the physical extremities are often involved with movement in the peripheral space. The balletic use of arms and legs are good examples of this. However, the extremities, particularly of the arms, often make use of central space. Equally possible is the central use of the arms in movement peripheral space. This may occur with accompanying central torso involvement.
Indication of Physically Central, Peripheral The symbols used for the physical aspects of central and peripheral are based on the already established use of a circle to represent body aspects: Ex. 1a shows a female performer, the almost complete circle indicating a person. 'Each one', 'each person' is indicated by 1b. An area within the body is expressed as 1c, while 1d is the repeat sign for physical lateral symmetry, i.e. a change in use of the sides of the body, but not a spatial change.
Instead of a full circle sign a half circle is used, 1e. A tick pointing inward toward the center indicates physically central, 1f; the tick pointing outward states physically peripheral, 1g. A partial arrow sign pointing outward, as in 1h, indicates transition from central to peripheral. Similarly, the partial arrow sign pointing inward states transition from peripheral to central, 1i.
Only half of the diamond is used for spatially central and peripheral, 1n. The inward tick, 1o, shows spatially central while the outward tick, 1p, states spatially peripheral. Transition from central to peripheral is shown in 1q and a change from spatially peripheral to central is written as 1r.