Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Contributed by Jennifer Mizenko et al. – November 6, 2006

[Following is a reprint of a conversation that took place on the CMAList]

Discussion 1. Jennifer Mizenko, June 6, 2006

I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer and hopefully a more laid back schedule.

We are already in the midst of summer school here at Ole Miss and I have received a summer research grant from the university to work on a movement for the actor text.

I would like to include a chapter applying the LMA Theme's to acting. At LIMS, the themes were identified as Inner/Outer, Function/Expression, Stable/Mobile, Exertion/Recuperation. I will be addressing the themes physically and philosophically in my writing.

Peggy Hackney includes these in a list of 12 Bartenieff Fundamental Principles.

I'm wondering if anyone can give me some historical perspective on how these "Themes" were teased apart. Are they discussed directly in Laban's writings - or were these concepts or principles developed through Bartenieff's work and are a unique part of LMA? And finally - is there a reason why LIMS lists these concepts as Themes and IMS as Principles? Or is it all semantics?

Just trying to get clarity and historical perspective.

Discussion 2. Jimmyle Listenbee, June 7, 2006

There is a collection of essays by Laban entitled Rudolph Laban Speaks about Movement and Dance where he discusses many of these core themes. I believe Pam Schick was especially inspired and influenced by this resource during the late 70's when these principles were being clarified by LIMS & the group that was to become IMS (Peggy Hackney would know for sure).

I don't know if/how it is available - does anyone? I have a reprint I can xerox if you want.

Discussion 3. Martha Eddy, June 7, 2006

Here is a brief review of some of this development as I experienced it.

In 1986 while teaching in the UWashington LMA Cert Program Peggy and I found we were simultaneously culling the various lists and handouts that were given out in the Cert programs (e.g. Written by Fran Parker, Shelley Sheperd H - Bala Sarasvati, Eleanor Fears and others). I was teaching intro and cert program courses, writing about similarities and differences with BMC theories, and I guess unconsciously preping for developing the LMA Compendium of Terms; Peggy was clarifying her teaching and beginning her book). We both felt that concepts and themes were being talked about as principles without being stated as principles. We then sought to name themes (the key LMA themes being those 4 that Jennifer listed below) as principles - laws/truths described in full sentences.

From this process many BF concepts were also identified and Peggy chose to formulate principles from them as she had come to learn them from Irmgard and worked with them herself (and with other colleagues). My lists of themes and principles informed what was going on in the cert program thru LIMS and have since been greatly shaped by ensuing faculty members (I think John Chanik and Linda Nutter played big roles here but surely there have been others).

The key idea is that a theme is a term - or a set of polarized terms and a principle is a statement of a law or truth about that term.

Ah! - and now I remember - I was writing on the application of BF to Massage with Joan Whitacre for the LIMS Rutgers conference. I believe that in our article we also articulate themes as principles with examples of how these are applied in touch practices. My Movement News article in 1990 - Past Beginnings lists and describes LMA themes that influence an understanding of motor development and how these relate to BMC principles too.

So great to here from Jimmy about a written source. I never had the pleasure of reading Laban's words on this and would love to!

Discussion 4. Linda Nutter, June 7, 2006

As I didn't do the program until 1992, I can't speak to how any of the theory was developed. I can, however, describe how these words are used in the LIMS NYC Weekend Program. This word usage has been consistent since I came to the program as a student.

We treat the 4 Laban Themes (Inner/Outer, Stability/Mobility, Exertion/Recuperation, and Function/Expression) as overarching themes. That is, they can be used to look at any other area of the theory. For instance, you can look at Exertion/Recuperation in terms of Body (which includes but is not limited to BF), Space, Effort or Shape. Likewise with the other three. So we do not include the 4 Themes on our list of BF concepts (or principals.) We think of the 4 Themes as the "top level" of theory...applicable to everything else in the system.

In terms of BF, we use a list of nine "concepts." A concept is, in general, "an idea, general notion, or thought," They are:

1) Dynamic Alignment
2) Spatial Intent
3) Breath Support
4) Core Support
5) Rotary Factor
6) Developmental Patterning
7) Effort Intent
8) Weight Shift
9) Initiation and Sequencing

As Martha says, a "Principle" is a statement of a fundamental "truth" or "law." When the concepts are developed and become a statement that seems to function as a "law" of sorts, we call it a Principle.

For example:

Concept - Intiation/Sequencing
Principle - "Initiation is the pattern of 'neuromuscular firing' which begins the movement and that determines the sequencing and outcome of the entire movement."

I do not want to speak for anyone else, but I believe that the other LIMS programs use this structure and list of nine concepts as well.

Not everyone agrees that it is necessary to separate the terms "Concept" and "Principle" in this way. A lot of people refer to that list of nine concepts as the "BF Principles."

Discussion 5. Nancy Allison, June 8, 2006

A touch to add to your history ...I did the program in NYC in 88 - 90 and the terms for theme, concept and principle were already in place then, just as Linda Nutter so beautifully described them.

Discussion 6. Kedzie Penfield, June 9, 2006

I would like to celebrate this discussion! When we first met (Irmgard, Peggy, Janis Pforsich etc.) in my loft in the early 70's we had trouble getting Irmgard to codify anything! It's wonderful to see how the theory has evolved and developed - my only worry is that there may be a wish to set the themes and principles in stone (glad there are 12 for some, 9 for others, etc) as it does need to continue changing...

Discussion 7. Jennifer Mizenko, June 12, 2006

I wanted to extend my thanks for everyone's input on the Themes discussion. Living in Mississippi I often feel isolated and out of touch with my Laban peers. It was wonderful to throw a question out there and get instant feedback. Y'all helped me get started.

Discussion 8. Ellen Goldman, June 13, 2006

Thanks for this great clarification. Watching a tape of Irmgard from 1980, she is clearly encompassing the theme of Inner/Outer and Function/Expression. She had a way of embedding everything in one sentence...was great to be reminded of this.

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