Submitted By Jeffrey Longstaff et al. – August 21, 2007
Discussion #1, by Jeffrey Longstaff – April 21, 2007
I've been pondering this question for some time, especially in relation to other emails on the CMA list, and have finally found some time to formulate my thoughts, centered around this question: What is Spatial Tension?
I remember distinctly at the end of my CMA cert program in Seattle (1986) talking with another student and saying that I found in my analyses that I could describe every choreutic aspect, without ever referring to the concept of "spatial tension".
To me, at the time, it felt like an unnecessary concept, I found that I didn't need it, since I could analyse every aspect of space without ever using it. Usually I would describe space as the pathway, or as the orientation of a position, and just call it that, a spatial path or a spatial position.
I notice on the listserve, often people write that something they observed had "spatial tension", ... and I usually ask myself, ... 'what was the actual movement? a pathway of a limb? or a path of the center-of-gravity, or an orientation of a body position? or something else?
My reaction is that the concept of 'spatial tension' doesn't give me enough information to know what the person is referring to.
When I came to London I found that Valerie Preston-Dunlop also used a concept of "spatial tension", but I believe in a slightly different way than is typical in LMA.
Preston-Dunlop's "manners of materialisation" (discussed in her MA thesis I believe, and other places) refers to 4 manners whereby a space-form can become material, can become manifest, made 'real':
The first two "manners of materialisation" might be considered "ACTUAL", they are analyses of the physical mass of the body:
1. PATHWAYS (she calls "spatial progression')
2. POSITIONS, still-shapes (she calls "body-design")
The other two "manners of materialisation" might be called "VIRTUAL", the spatial lines are not physically present (except if one includes super-physical phenomena such as "lay-lines" or other invisible forces, etc. ... I experience that these do exist, ... but for now in this analysis I set them aside), instead, these "virtual" materialisations of space are created by inducing them in the perception of an observer:
3. "SPATIAL PROJECTION" - moving in such a way that a line or curve is perceived by an observer to extend outward (towards infinity) beyond the body of the performer, out into the space (I like to call these "RAYS")
4. "SPATIAL TENSION" - moving in such a way that a line or curved is perceived by an observer to connect across space, making a link between two body parts (eg. a perceived line through the space from one hand to the other), or a perceived line or connect across space between two people, or a person and an object etc. (I like to call this a "SPAN", especially as that is similar to the original German "spannung" - 'tension')
BUT, I believe that this specific concept of "spatial tension" is different that the concept of "spatial tension" as used in LMA, or is it?
In LMA, I perceive that "spatial tension" is used for all types of space embodiment, including pathways, body positions, etc. and not only the specific "spatial tension" as defined in Preston-dunlop's "Manners of materialisation".
So.... I am still wondering, What do LMA people mean by "spatial tension"?
How I understand it, is that LMA people mean this: "spatial tension" is when the body (movements, positions or whatever) is somehow connected to or relating to an external 'space'. This perception of 'spatial tension' seems to be created by several aspects of body movement such as reaching and extending outwards, or an apparent awareness of particular intentions in defining/creating clear designs and forms.
The difference can be seen when someone is "not in space", ie. they are not extended, clear forms and designs are not emerging, they are not in any sense of relationship to the external environment,... often this might be weight-sensing, or shape-flow.
Of course this 'spatial tension' is Not necessarily "space effort" (a different topic) - -
When I hear people referring to "spatial tension" is usually seems to me that they are referring to this engagement with external forms and designs.
Is this how other LMA people consider "spatial tension"?
My next question follows from this: If a person is "not in space", with very little 'spatial tension', ie. not making clear forms, designs, or any apparent intention to do, .... that regardless of this, that patterns in space harmony (choreutics) can Still be applied towards analysing the movement paths, directions, orientations, forms, designs etc.
In other words, ... using choreutics to analyse movements that do not have spatial tension.
Am I twisting the concepts around?
Since I find in my practice and observations, that I use choreutic forms, paths, directions, to analyse any movement, regardless if I perceive there is any spatial tension at all. ie. Choreutic analysis applied to body movement which is predominately shape-flow or weight-sensing.
Or, do people say that ALL movements have at least some spatial tension?
I am curious how people use the concept of 'spatial tension' re:
1. How do you define "spatial tension" - ie. what is physically observable that can be identified as being 'spatial tension' - is it this engagement with clear forms/designs/directions that I described above?
2. Do ALL movements / positions have "spatial tension"
3a. If 2 is "No": Can choreutics be used to analyse movements without spatial tension. (since there are certainly 'pathways' in all movements, whether they are 'in space' or not)
3b. If 2 is "Yes": then what does 'spatial tension' tell us if it is always present?... or is it always an analysis of the 'type' of spatial tension: (central-peripheral-transverse), ... or are there 'degrees' or 'amounts' of spatial tension?
I look forward to your interesting comments and accounts.
Discussion #2, by Kedzie Penfield - April 21, 2007
Great discussion! Certainly something I've pondered for some years so your thoughts are helpful - and illuminating.
ps. Are you [Jeffrey Longstaff] still in London?
Discussion #3, by Oliver Bandel - April 21, 2007
It's always you [Jeffrey Longstaff], who bring up interesting themes in these lists. :)
As I also have some problems with some of the LMA-terms, I do not bring in a direct answer to your question (sorry for that), but have another thing I want to mention... some terms are used frequently but are contradictional in use (as you mentioned it), some terms are only too fuzzy explained...
One basic problem of understanding the LMA terms (those which are used in a clear way, without misunderstandings) could be the following:
- not all of these concepts can be measured from the PASSIVE observer-position; some (most?) of these concepts need an ACTIVE observer, someone who sees things that aren't there or that are there, but can't be seen by a passive observer (like a camera and velocity-sensors that only see the visual/real (in a sense of physics) things and the pure position in space (and changing of position in space, which we call movement, and can be analysed like in physics with velocity/acceleration .... the derivations of space-position vs. time)). Often things in LMA are like "it looks like..." (example: looks heavy, even if the person is a flyweight, or the movement can look light, even if the person who moves, has 150 kilos)
- even if a concept can be linked to the analysis used by people in physics (space/time => position, velocity, acceleration, ...) this does not mean that the LMA-terms are DIRECTLY related to it. Sometimes they might be looking in a different way on the movement, or sometimes the same perspective could be used, but the LMA-theory (and/or some terms of it) are not explained in relation to what comes from science like physics and mathematics, even if they could be.
(BTW: even the "passive observer" needs an active part, and so even THAT observation is active; but it's the human experimenter who does the active part, setting up a passive-observer-position using machine, that than (blindly (?!) or real seeing, that all other things are illusions (?!) and could not be observed?!) write down it's measurement on paper or tape or computer memory.)
One term I again and again had questions about is the time effort.
There are many words used for it, and on a loosely way people can agree on that thing. But btw, the terms in use in the LMA-analysis also might show a lot of contradictions.
As people might describe the same movement (is it the same movement?) from their individual perspective and experience-background, they might use different words for the same thing (is it the same thing then?)?
But LMA is there to create a common language even for those different things. So, I think the approach is similar to science: let's use the same words for it, so we can talk about the same, when we use our common/negotiated terminology.
This has two sides (the two sides of the medal).
The one side: "Yes, we understand, what the other people say... it's a language that explains movement very well... hurray!"
The other side is: "We have the same words found, where we found them. We (think we) can communicate about movement now. But as any language, this language also does not explain all aspects. And also: do we really understand, when we talk about it?!"
...well, before I write twenty pages of philosophing around, I go directly to what I see about the time effort thing.
Some people use the words in a way that they can be related to sudden things, other people use the terms differently.
I've not seen a good linkage to the words
There also were many different words used for the two poles of the time effort; and these different terms changed during times and between teacher and teacher.
So: WHAT is the correct word for it? is it fast/slow, sudden/non-sudden, .../... .../... [insert your favorite here]
And when translating this in other languages, this might be complete nonsense.
(You know, that Eskimos have a huge number of words (twenty?) for different colors, which we would give one or two: white and not-quite-white. You could measure the color- spectra of different whites... but would you use so many words for it?! Would/could we have twenty words for time effort? Does it make sense? Could it make sense?)
IMHO there are so many different words not only because so many people describe the things in personal words (this can be ONE reason). IMHO there also is a lack of the LMA-theorists to link their seen/experienced things to those kinds of science that are ruling the world (and the perception of so many people).
I don't say that LMA-stuff is nonsense. I say: it's a fine tool, but could be even better, if there would be a closer connection to other perspective (and maybe if it would use a finer-grained terminology, see the Eskimo-example).
Another thing with the time effort is, that a "sudden" (if we use THIS word) movement could have many "shapes of velocity".
With that I mean (by example): does it start slowly and then gets slightly faster and then much faster?
- does it start fast and then gets slower?
- is it permanently fast (acceleration is high) (flickering thing)
- .... [insert other "velocity-shapes here" ]
So, as I now have created the word "velocity shape", how to deal with it? Other people with ideas about it?
Should the effort-graph be enhanced?
Giving a "+", "++", "0", "-", "--" does NOT say something about the shape of the velocity, it might be used to distinguish fast and sudden, but maybe all the terms in use are not detailed enough... it is the maximum of the amplitude, or the impact (?) of the movement that is observed (how powerful is this suddenness?), but does not say something about the shape. (How could the other effort-categories be used to help here? BUT: Are they needed for better description of the movement, to get a more-complete description, using other aspects, or are they needed to fix a lack of accuracy of the time-effort?!!!)
I think that, when connecting the LMA-stuff with physics/mathematics, then the LMA-tool could be much more powerful!
And it will not be experienced as esoteric as it is now, by many people.
(But this would require to learn from LMA-history, without being tied to it.)
So, now I stop this text, as it gives some ideas about how I think on the LMA-stuff and the usage of terms and the linkage to other observation-tools like physics/mathematics.
BTW: There are researchers working on movement and perception, and one thing that they found out, was, that a fast movement looks wider than it is. This is an interesting thing. Performers (or choreographers) could (and some will already ;-)) use this for a more-wide looking movement. So they could enhance their expressiveness.
So, here velocity (but in which way time effort?) is directly linked to space-perception.
(But btw.: people who are experienced movement-observers might give the researchers new questions, as they might look different on movement and are not so easy to cheat like the average people.... but somewhere there will be a border of perception even for movement-observation experienced people.)
It would be fine, if these cohesion of perceptional concepts would be more detailed looked at from the LMA-people. If not, I think, these things will be explored by the science as it is today, and it would end up in a huge amount of disconnected splitters of facts, useful only for writing boring books about it and creating new kinds of weapons, but without any positive effect on how people are living inside their lives and inside the world.
Enough for now. :)
Discussion #4, by Laura Glenn - April 22, 2007
.... I have been incorporating my knowledge of all things Laban in my teaching over the years, both at my summer festival (White Mountains Summer Dance Festival) and at Juilliard where I have been teaching for quite a while....here is what I have found-I use the concept of spatial tension frequently in my teaching. For me it is the energy in a spatial pathway that supports my balance in unlikely places. As I encourage students to reach outwards say in one of the 3 spatial-pull directions they will find that they can go further then expected if they use the spatial tension/energy/pull of that line/orientation in space. It is clearly a tension held between self and a line of non-self. It offers a chance to trust a energy tension space to support, rather then the body level organization and students/dancers find it very freeing...as do I.
Discussion #5, by Karen Studd – April 22, 2007
Spatial Tension has and continues to be an area of interest, concern, and discussion. To date the MD certification program has eliminated a certification program final exam question, which was heavily concentrated on the notion of Spatial Tensions. However The U of MD cert faculty continue to teach CPT in terms of movement and pathways and Spatial Tensions rather than being ignored, are acknowledged and presented as an area of ongoing discussion and clarification.
I generally feel confident that I am able to describe what I see and what I experience moving without addressing the area of Spatial Tensions. From our ongoing discussion among the MD cert program faculty members and Washington area CMAs I find myself believing that the real value of Spatial Tension may be in how we look at and address interactive rhythms and perhaps Dynamoshperic connections - between persons or between a person and some aspect of their environment rather than within one individual's body and its parts - specifically the relationship of the core to the periphery. This is an area I would like to see delved into! There is for example real potential in looking at this when movement is recorded- as the filmer's perspective and how they are then part of the interactive rhythm which in turn impacts the viewers perspective- would seem to be at the heart of this notion of spatial tension in some way.
While Central and Peripheral Spatial Tensions can be understood/agreed upon - albeit named via other relationships within BESS - the most problematic (I have found) is the notion of Transverse Spatial Tensions. I myself have been privy to an astonishing number of examples of Shaping Movement generally along Transverse Pathways usually performed with Bound Flow that is then labeled as Transverse Spatial Tension. From the sheer number of these examples labeled thusly, I tend to believe that what is routinely named as Transverse Spatial Tension is the combination of these elements (cited above). Perhaps there is no reason not to define it in this way, but still I would ask- is this the equivalent to other combinations of factors yielding something distinct? As opposed to the sum of the parts, for example we do see the that combining the Effort Factors of Flow, Weight and Time produce Passion Drive and we do not break down the Drive into each individual element (unless there is a reason to do so) it is rather the coming together of these elements which produces the wholeness of the energy and intent of that particular Drive. There are of course synergistic relationships, which are important to understand the unique wholeness of. So I ask is Spatial Tension of this nature?
Presently I tend to agree with Jeffery that I feel able to name what I see and what I experience without addressing Spatial Tension. I am delighted that he has brought it up and look forward to the continuing discussion around this topic.
I know Richard Haisma took on this task several years ago and did a tremendous amount of thoughtful work in trying to bring some clarity to this issue. For my part his project was a catalyst in getting me to attempt getting at the heart of the matter but unfortunately my response was misconstrued as something else and the matter was dropped rather than being discussed further or clarified. Perhaps it is time to look at this aspect of LMA theory again?
Discussion #6, by Linda Nutter – April 23, 2007
Thank you to Jeffrey and Karen for resurrecting this interesting discussion.
These are the thoughts off the top of my head today.
I see two things at work in this discussion so far:
1) Clarification of what exactly we are talking about when we say "Spatial Tension" (addressed mostly by Jeffrey) and,
2) A question about the "irreducibility" of Spatial Tension which might be something like "is Spatial Tension as a concept, irreducible in the way that the other BESS elements are, or does it arise as a result of the interplay of other BESS elements (addressed mostly by Karen.)
(I should say that instead of saying "as I see it" a hundred times over the course of these notes, I'll just say "I feel…" and that should be read not only as my opinion, but also as a reflection of my understanding of how we are teaching these concept in the NYC Weekend Program right now.)
I understand Jeffrey's questions. I feel that one of the things they point to are issues of quantitative versus qualitative movement data.
Jeffrey writes, "I notice on the listserve, often people write that something they
observed had "spatial tension", ... and I usually ask myself, ...'what was the actual movement? a pathway of a limb? or a path of the center-of-gravity, or an orientation of a body position? or something else?”
First off I would say that when one makes an Effort observation and reports on a phrase of States and Drives, one could also say "what was the actual movement?" So not having "actual movement" attached to Spatial Tension does not make it any less "real" in some way.
Then, I would say that I feel that these are what I would call "quantitative" questions. Things that can MORE OR LESS be verified or even quantified. When I was a student, pathways through the kinesphere were referred to as "choreutically defined." (Is that an Ed Groff term?) That meant that the pathway was something that could generally not be debated, it was defined by choreutic "law." A pathway was defined as Central, Transverse or Peripheral in the Kinesphere and two CMAs "should" be in agreement as to what kind of pathway it was. It was a quantitative concept. For instance, a pathway from Right-Forward-High to Left-Back-Low was a Diagonal Pathway and it was a Central Pathway within the Kinesphere. It would be very difficult to make a case for it being a Peripheral or Transverse Pathway. (Note: I realize that Labanotation looks at the pathways slightly differently and that it is often helpful to define Pathways based on their "degree of distance" from each other. This is especially helpful in discerning between Periperal or Transverse pathways in the same zone of the Kinesphere, but I will not go into it here because it is still a quantitative issue and slightly outside the realm of what I am addressing.)
So Jeffrey's questions fall into an area that I feel is more concrete than that of Spatial Tension. As we teach it, Pathways are more quantitative, measurable, verifiable, "objective," etc. Like Effort and Shape QUALITIES, Spatial Tension is a more qualitative, un-measurable, and "subjective." (Note that I put objective and subjective in quotes because coming from the perspective of phenomenology, I don't really believe in a true objective/subjective split. I am trying to explain my perspective in terms that are in common use in our community.)
So, just as Effort and Modes of Shape Change are qualitative aspects of the total movement experience, so is Spatial Tension. When we look at everything involved in the whole "Effort picture," we begin the discussion with quantitative aspects. We begin with a discussion of the four Motion Factors, generally agreed to be weight (measurable in terms of mass, force, weight, pounds, kilograms, etc.) space (the measurable three-dimensional world) flow (ongoingness, continuity) and time (measurable and quantitative time.) Effort is our intent or attitude toward the quantitative Motion Factors.
Modes of Shape Change (as we teach it here) are also qualitative in nature. They may be supported by more "concrete" ideas, but the Modes themselves are distinguished by their intent. There are the more quantitative aspects of Shape. For me, these are forms such as ball, pin, wall, twist, etc. The Modes of Shape Change. As Jeffrey's question suggests, asking what the "body position" is could in some cases, be considered a quantitative question about shape. In Preston-Dunlop's system (with which I am totally unfamiliar outside of Jeffrey's e-mail ) this would be an "actual" manner of materialization and would fall under "positions." One could, theoretically, measure the distance between all body parts and make a 3-D rendering of a body position or shape. It is assumed that two people with the same "measuring" skills could approximate the same rendering.
The Modes of Change represent something different. They represent the mover's attitude toward the changing form of the body. At it's core, it has nothing to do with Effort (beyond the fact that Effort changes will accompany the Shape changes) and nothing to do with Space (beyond the fact that it happens within the Kinesphere.) (I realize here that we might be verging into the theoretical debate between East and West coast conception of Shape here!)
So we have this attitude or intent toward the Motion Factors, which is Effort, an attitude or intent toward the changing form of the body, which is Modes of Shape Change, and now we have an attitude or intent toward the movement along a pathway or to the general Kinespheric space…which is Spatial Tension (unfortunately, we cannot call it "Spatial Intent" because that word is used for something different, although certainly related, on the Body/Space level within our "system.")
This attitude toward space is qualitative. It is ephemeral and as difficult to build consensus or "reliability" around as Effort or Modes of Shape Change…it's just that as a community, we have had a longer history of discussing Effort and Modes of Shape Change. Much work has been spent building consensus around Effort usage. It seems to me that less time has been spent doing that with Modes of Shape Change, but the time is still considerable. Spatial Intent is a newer concept and there is even less published material on it than on Shape.
Although we would be working in a different observational paradigm, I quite like Preston-Dunlap's "manner of materialisation" as Jeffrey has outlined it and although I would never speak for her, it does seem to me that her idea of Spatial Tension makes sense to me in relation to our way of using the same term. (It is also related to Langer's writing in Dance about the main expression of dance being in the realm of Virtual Powers.)
(I wrote a long example here and just deleted it because I feel that I am getting away from my initial intent, which was to give my own top-level not-to-complicated answer to Jeffrey's questions!)
So my personal answers to Jeffrey's questions are:
1) How do you define "spatial tension" - I define it as an attitude or intent toward the spatial pathway or kinesphere space…just as I define Effort as an attitude or intent toward the Motion Factors, and the Modes of Shape Change as an attitude or intent toward the changing form of the body.
2) Do all movements/positions have "spatial tension" - It would certainly be interesting to be able to go to a level of microanalysis that would reveal this…but the same would be true in terms of Effort and Shape. So in a general "macro" way, my answer would be "no." BUT, that also means that I would say that within the context of a specific movement example, it might not be important to talk about the Effort life, or the Modes of Shape Change, or the Spatial Pathway or crystalline form. Also, we need to remember that not all elements of import are completely conscious to the mover.
3a) Can choreutics be used to analyze movement without spatial tension - Yes, you can analyze the pathways, etc. There may be no "attitude" toward the pathways or Space worthy of remark. (Note: I have heard discussion that the word "Choreutics" or the phrase "Space Harmony" was not, by Laban, thought of strictly as SPACE. I have heard people say that it was really about the relationship between Space, Body, Effort and his concept of Shape (which was very tied to Space.) If Choreutics were defined to include all of those concepts, then no, you couldn't use Choreutics to speak only of those particular aspects and not others. Of course, I'm not the Choreutics expert that Jeffrey is, so I'm just throwing that out there as a point of note!)
3b. As I said, I cannot say if it is always present on a micro-level. In terms of the mover's conscious intent, it is not always present…but neither is Effort, and we will often talk about something in terms of Effort that the mover did not experience as "mainly about Effort in a conscious way." I feel that the same is probably true about Spatial Tension. I have not thought about the idea of there being "degrees" or "amounts" of Spatial Tension…I suppose that there could definitely be these degrees or amounts…we analyze Effort intensity this way.
I also understand Karen's questions and issues. As a matter of fact, I have thought those same things myself.
It seems to me, in working with these concepts this year (or since the last time the faculties met and discussed Spatial Tension) that it IS possible to describe a movement event without discussing Spatial Tension…but the description MIGHT be missing something. Of course, not every description of every movement event would suffer…that's because not every movement event is expressing something qualitative about the Space. The same can be true of Effort. If a movement is mainly a Shape Flow expression, for example, Effort analysis, while possible, might not be fruitful in terms of the expressive nature of the phrase. I have a student who is analyzing a piece of choreography right now. We are struggling, somewhat, to work in a discussion of Effort! (Believe it or not!!!) What is important about the choreography is not the Effort life…although it is Effortful. What the piece expresses is more about Space and Shape. The student/choreographer feels that Spatial Tension is an extremely important aspect of the movement. One could talk about Effort, certainly. But that does not really get to the core of the intent of this particular piece.
At the last faculty meeting about this, John Chanik did a movement example that, for me, was clear. He was doing a series of barrel turns in the air. First he demonstrated them with Peripheral Spatial Tension, then he demonstrated them with Transverse Spatial Tension. To me, the difference was remarkable and I did not see or feel that the difference had been made through a change in Effort or Shaping qualities. I felt, clearly, that the difference had been made manifest by a change in his attitude toward Space. Instead of supporting the barrel turn with a sense of Peripheral Spatial tension that helped define the edges or the "barrel shape" of the movement, he was accomplishing the turn by attending to the cutting out the volume of the Space with his limbs between his Core and the edge…Transverse Spatial Tension. Others (and I believe Karen Studd was one) felt that what was demonstrated was a change in Effort or Shaping qualities. Fascinating differences, no?!
Still, I am with Karen when she says that she "tends to believe that what is routinely named as Transverse Spatial Tension is the combination of these elements [meaning Effort, Shape, Body adjustments, etc.]" I think that even the earliest literature on this (By Jan Pforsich and Ed Groff) would say that this is true. Spatial Tension does seem to arise from some kind of interaction between the elements of Shape, Space and Body…
but isn't that true of Effort as well?
I understand Karen's Passion Drive example and how it exemplifies the difference between combining different aspects (her example of adding Shaping with Bound Flow to possibly create Transverse Spatial Tension) and the difference between that and combining the elements of Effort to make an Effort Drive. But I think that that interaction is ALSO at work in Effort (and probably Shape, but I haven't thought about that very much before today.)
It seems to me that the expression of even a single Effort element involves a complex interaction of the BESS elements….and therefore I wonder if the expression of the "quality" of a Spatial Tension is any more or less complex than the expression of a single "quality" of Effort.
Take, for example, a person's ability to access Strong Weight Effort. One doesn't just stand and think about Strong Weight Effort and will it into existence, does one? Believe me, I have tried that MANY times in the past, just ask my teachers. You can't use your wishbone and just hope for Strong Weight Effort, you have to use your backbone and create it. You have to DO something. And that "doing" usually involves finding a particular Body Level support for accessing that particular relationship to gravity. It might involve, but clearly does require, a particular Spatial emphasis, since so many people find it easier to support Strong Weight Effort with the support of the Downward Space affinity. I also know many people who find it much easier to express Strong Weight Effort along a 1-dimensional straight path than along a curving three dimensional pathway. So I do not think that when we say to someone "try to express more Strong Weight Effort there…." we are saying the simple thing we think we are saying. They can't JUST will it to be more about Strong Weight Effort. Intent is not enough. We are really asking them to reorganize themselves in other ways, (perhaps on the Body level, perhaps on the Space level, perhaps on the Shape level) and find a way to use all of that to support their expression of Strong Weight Effort.
There's so much that can be said here, but I won't go on. I think that Richard Haisma's essay on Spatial Tension is an investigation into the elements that help support the creation of the virtual image of Spatial Tension. He uses Irmgard's writing to build a case for Spatial Tension being a particular kind of relationship between Body (including the concept of Spatial Intent, which I have not addressed here, but which is crucial to the discussion) and Space. It is definitely worth investigating. (I hope that I am not misquoting you here Richard…I don't have the essay in front of me.)
So, in summary, I agree with everyone! I agree with Preston-Dunlop that it is a "virtual" experience of the Space…just as Effort is a virtual experience of the Motion Factors. I agree with Jeffrey that it is a sticky area and in need of more investigation and I very much appreciated the clarity of his questioning. I agree with Karen that its expression might come about as a combination of other elements…but I also think that the expression of every element that we think of as "irreducible" comes about as a combination of other elements. Although I haven't discussed it here, I also agree with many of Richard Haisma's statements about the concept. I would say that I agree with it all, but it is very long and I don't want to make that statement without rereading it!
Please think of this as written from within the context of my own training and experience working with and teaching this material. I have not studied or observed with each of you reading this…so I am quite sure that the statement does not agree with everything that you each would say about the concepts. Clearly, I am not writing this as an academic paper…I am simply throwing some partially organized thoughts out to the list.
Let's hear more!
Discussion #7, by Peggy Hackney – April 24, 2007
This will be a short answer as I am running into class to teach: My thoughts run to a recent class that I taught here at the Rotterdam Dance Academy to the students of the Choreography Program. We were having one person direct the whole rest of the group by calling out parameters to explore. One of the things that they enjoyed was asking the group to, for instance, explore Transverse Approach to Kinesphere (or Spatial Tension) in the General Space, while utilizing Central Spatial Tension in their own Personal Kinesphere. The mixing of the aspects in General Space and Personal Space was a wonderfully quick way of accomplishing the organization of a large number of people into a coherent whole. Each different combination seemed to yield a different type of mood, or field, or statement.
Perhaps I find these designations most useful not in descriptive situations (where I am trying to describe movement that is already there), but more in prescriptive situations (where I am eliciting movement that is in the process of becoming).
Discussion #8, by Gill Miller - April 24, 2007
To add to this discussion, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen talks about cerebral spinal fluid and lymph being similar fluids, yet complementary in that the first is centrally produced and flows to the periphery while the second is peripherally produced and flows toward center. They establish spatial tension through which we script space. See her comments in "The Dynamics of Flow" essay in /Sensing, Feeling, and Action./
Discussion #9, by Linda Nutter - April 24, 2007
[Responding to Gill Miller's comments in Discussion #8]
That is really fascinating.
Discussion #10, by Martha Eddy - April 24, 2007
The balancing of flow through actively moving with lymph and CSF can also contribute to establishing countertension that is flowing but not bound. One can also play with the balance of the arterial and venous flow for balancing of fluids and directions along a central pathway - but to maintain spatial tension there may be a need for more muscular binding as this bloodfulness is expressed. Of course playing as Irmgard did with activation of synergistic superficial and deep musculature is also potent for establishing spatial tension while moving with modifiable flow. As we move in this direction within this discussion I would be remiss to not mention Bob Dunn's concept of bi-directional flow, another key component of playing with spatial tension. In our work with yield and push patterns as experiences between parents and infants Ruella Frank and I have been playing with this bi-directional flow as a key to bonding and then moving away while maintaining engagement.
Discussion #11, by Martha Eddy - April 24, 2007
[Responding to Oliver Bandel's comment's in Discussion #3]
Great dialogue - it is scintillating to reflect on the many questions/ideas you bring out Oliver. I love the "Heisenbergness" of it all!
It also reminds me of how much I enjoyed teaching in a Kinesiology department (SFSU) where my course on the qualitative analysis of movement is a precursor for a course in quantitative analysis (biomechanics). It was sad to leave San Francisco and not be able to go further with research that used both of these perspectives. I was delighted however that by the early 90's the Higgin's recognized LMA as a key entry point for kinesic analysis as well as a possible qualitative component of kinematic studies. CMAs, Sherry Barr and Elin Lobel may have more to add here as they too cross-fertilize with perceptual-motor scientists.
As to your question about time - it highlights the importance of resurrecting Martha Davis' Compendium Project. I was editor of the first edition that included essays on consistent and inconsistent usages of an LMA concept and related terms (and symbology) as systematically researched through at least 20 classic (LMA related) texts. Many thanks again to each of the individuals and teams that helped to clarify the usage of the terms such as weight and body attitude. There are at least 65 more to go. Tara Stepenberg's research on space effort remains unpublished as it awaits company from other researchers. As an outcome of her work she recommended a shift to the term focus or attention effort. I now successfully use those terms as clarifying synonyms in my intro classes.
Discussion #12, by Ellen Goldman - April 24, 2007
Martha, thanks for that beautiful explanation. I will save it for teaching.
Discussion #13, by Ellen Goldman - April 25, 2007
Spatial Tension has become a favorite for me...Since the "challenge" meeting, and Richard's beautiful DVD experiment, and our many discussions, I have been gathering examples of Spatial Tension in nature. This is my preferred way of confirming the existence of a concept.
While there are always other ways to define a movement, I find there are times when Spatial Tension is the best. I even found a branch on a hike last Sunday, which seemed to me a Central Pathway with transverse spatial tension. In the Advanced Study Group, we looked at my examples and discussed them. Any terms that can bring out the understanding and depth that these do is valid for me.
Richard likes to talk about "elasticity" with Spatial Tension. I stick to the definitions and find they work well. Each year, teaching it, the faculty comes into greater and greater consistency, and the students find it exciting to explore. The changes in meaning that flow from it are wonderful.
My suggestion is to go out and look for it, and see what you find.
Discussion #14, by Jennifer Mizenko - April 25, 2007
I have been enjoying the discussion about Spatial Tension. It's interesting to hear all of these different perspectives. This has been an especially interesting discussion right now, because I have been using the concept of Spatial Tension in my work with actors, and the work became very important in a recent production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
I served as the movement coach on this production and the director informed me that he was very much interested in creating the "tension" between the actors. He wanted the space between the actors to be alive and dynamic. In essence, he wanted the relationship between the characters to manifest itself in the literally spatial relationship between the actors portraying the characters.
His directions sent me directly to the idea of Spatial Tension. The actors had already been introduced to the concepts of Kinesphere, Dynamisphere, and CPT in Pathways and Tension - so applying the work was a natural step. We first explored maintaining a Central Spatial Tension - that is - relating to those around you in a way that emphasizes YOU and creates a boundary. When creating this tension between each other, the actors found that it enlivened and required very strong Core Support. We next explored Peripheral Spatial Tension, by exploring Spatial Relationships, and gestures that had a desire to cross the personal Kinesphere and (metaphorically) penetrate the other actors' kinesphere. Finally, we explored the idea of Transverse Spatial Tension through combining the ideas of Central and Peripheral. The actors were instructed to move through the space and relate to others in a way that invited the other actors in, but also kept them at bay, simultaneously. This created a provocative atmosphere that was very appropriate for Liaisons.
So - in this case - we defined Spatial Tension through relationship with others - and the intent of the relationship. Central Spatial Tension created a boundary and an off putting relationship. Peripheral Spatial Tension created an over eager - penetrating relationship. And Transverse Spatial Tension created yes/no, maybe, come close/stay away, maybe I'll let you in/maybe I won't.
It was quite fun to see this come alive on stage and see the actors connect their intention and relationship to the Space between.
p.s. This is a fun exercise to play in class with a simple handshake.
Discussion #15, by Tara Stepenberg - April 25, 2007
I'd like to thank everyone who has taken their time to question and respond to this round of the spatial tension exploration.
Very thoughtful and engaging discussions for my bodymind.
Discussion #16, by Ellen Goldman - April 26, 2007
[Responding to Linda Nutter's comments in Discussion #6]
Bravo Linda for answering each aspect of Jeffery's questions. I agree that Spatial Tension is a category that sheds light on a movement, in addition to the other categories. Conglomerate issues is addressed by Martha Davis in Four Adaptations. Anything that enhances our perception of movement seems a good thing. Over time, our reliability improves. Why discard what is useful. I guess I am a pragmatist.
Thanks for the beautiful analysis. I will be saving it to study more fully.
Discussion #17, by Carol-Lynne Moore - April 27, 2007
I have been fascinated by the responses triggered by your [Jeffrey Longstaff's] questions about spatial tension.
While there seems to be little consensus as to the precise meaning of the term, there is lots of anecdotal support for its utility. This must arise, in part, because it is a “fuzzy concept.” Its very fuzziness seems to provide a creative springboard for everything from appreciating natural forms to generating a charged interpersonal atmosphere on stage.
There is obviously much to be said for the fertile field of possibility that fuzziness provides. This leaves unanswered, however, your other concerns: can “spatial tension” be perceived by an outside observer and, if so, does it add something to movement description or is it merely redundant?
Laban’s writings, notably in Choreutics, do not offer a concise definition of spatial tension. As is often the case, Laban seems to build up a picture of the concept through gradual accretion, linking the term to directions in space and their complexity (pp. 21& 88), to kinespheric trajectories (notably peripheral and transverse pathways – p. 68), and to shifts in perceptual focus (p. 20). He also distinguishes muscular tension producing effort from spatial tension (p. 60). Laban, as author of the term, must be responsible in part for some of its fuzziness.
I do not believe that spatial tension is perceptible to the outside viewer. Nevertheless, it is palpable to the mover, whose body is subject to various tensions when moving within our gravitational field. The mover’s relationship to the plumb line of gravity obviously impacts these tensional sensations, which are felt most keenly in off-vertical movements; i.e. diagonal, diametral, peripheral, or transverse trajectories. According to Laban’s “deflected direction hypothesis,” identified in your own research, most movement flows along these deflected trajectories. Therefore we can assume that the sensation of spatial tension, whether central or peripheral in the mover’s field of perception, nevertheless accompanies most movement experiences.
Does the concept of spatial tension add anything to movement description? If we are taking the uni-dimensional view of the objective observer, you are probably correct: it is possible to describe movement in the kinesphere without reference to this concept. On the other hand, Laban advocated a “multilateral description” of movement, one that encompasses the “bodily perspective” of the person enjoying movement. In this sense, spatial tension seems to add another dimension. As Laban asserts, “There is a series of bodily exercises which bring a very real sensation of these hitherto nameless space-forms… Human movement has only occasionally been investigated from this point of view, but can be shown to consist of tensions within space-forms” (Choreutics, p. 110).
Laban goes on to draw parallels between his assertion about movement and discoveries in acoustics and spectral-analysis. This leaves us at a fuzzy, and yet I suspect fertile, frontier of understanding movement, from the inside out as well as the outside in.
Discussion #18, by Jackie Hand - April 27, 2007
At the risk of losing my credibility...I want to propose in a very skimpy fashion that my thoughts about spatial tension are leaning toward its involvement with, or it is in part, the electromagnetic field within and surrounding the human body. I spoke of this last year in a presentation on fascia at Motus Humanus and quoted Caroline Myss in “The Anatomy of the Spirit,” Chapter 1 in a section entitled The Human Energy Field:
“Your physical body is surrounded by an energy field that extends as far out as your outstretched arms and the full length of your body. It is both an information center and a highly sensitive perceptual system. We are constantly ‘in communication’ with everything around us through this system, which is a kind of conscious electricity that transmits and receives messages to and from other people’s bodies. These messages from and within the energy field are what intuits perceive.Practitioners of energy medicine believe that the human energy field contain and reflects each individual’s energy. It surrounds us and carries with us the emotional energy created by our internal and external experiences....This emotional force influences the physical tissue within our bodies. In this way your biography, that is the experiences that make up your life, becomes biology.”
Just as some people easily perceive Effort or Modes of Shape Change and others have a difficult time until taught to name what they are seeing as "Effort" or "Modes of Shape Change", some people easily see electromagnetic energy changes within and without the body. This perception is teachable and nameable and what I believe I am seeing when I see spatial tension.....
I was trying to write here a beginning way to practice seeing spatial tension as spatial energy traveling through the body into space, but I was getting hung up on all the problems that was going to elicit in interpretation. I do much better showing you.
I am only a year or so into my exploration and research on this. And I certainly don't want to approach it from a "woobie" place, but scientifically. The electromagnetic energy fields are more researched, discussed and written about as viable than when Laban was around. I would ask you to consider my suggestion as a possibility.
Discussion #19, by Vera Maletic - April 27, 2007
I agree with C-L that responses to your [Jeffrey Lonstaff's] question were quite fascinating, and that in Choreutics Laban builds up the concept from several components.
I first encountered the term in Die Welt des Taenzers (1920). In its Ersten Reigen there are subsections "Analyse der Gebarde als Raumspanung" -- Analysis of the gesture as spatial tension (p. 23), and "Die Richtungen der Raumspannungen" -- The directions of spatial tensions (pp 24 -25) In Table 2 of Body-Space-Expression, about the chronolgy of concepts in Theory of Space, I listed the second section as "Directions of spatial tensions as related to the centre of gravity approximately coinciding with the centre of the body." (1987:85).
Subsequently I found Irmgard's excellent essay "The root of Laban Theory: Aesthetics and beyond," in Four Adaptations of Effort Theory in Research and Teaching (DNB 1970; 76). In it Bartenieff examines Laban's world-view/theory of dance by juxtaposing it to Susanne Langer's aesthetic theory.
Just in case that you do not have the Four Adaptations handy, here is the first paragraph from the translation of "Analysis of gesture as spatial tension":
"The elements of each gesture are bodily tensions combined with intellectual and feeling excitations. The body tension we determined according to directions in space towards which they are executed; furthermore according to the application of force with which they are led into definite widths of space and with larger or smaller time-duration within which they follow each other." (1976:5)
In terms of personal experience of performing, teaching and observing, I use the notion of spatial tensions in a similar way as described by Laura Glenn, as supporting transitions from balance into off-balance.
Discussion #20, by Oliver Bandel - April 27, 2007
Responding to Carol-Lynne Moore's comments in Discussion #17]
[Carol-Lynne wrote]: If we are taking the uni-dimensional view of the objective observer,...
[Oliver responds] What is an objective observer, and how could we detect him/her/it as such?
How would we know, which observation is "objective"?
Isn't it always a negotiation on what we think we might observe?
BTW: Fuzziness was mentioned here... very often...
... a very CONCISE DEFINED FUZZINESS can yield very powerful results...
-- as mentioned again and again on the labantalk-mailing list long time ago, I can recommend to read Bart Kosko's "Fuzzy Thinking" and use the insights to re-formulate the laban-talkings.
P.S.: What's about your knot's-research? (Wasn't it you [Carol-Lynne Moore] who worked on it, after exploring the laban-archive??!) Did you found the mathematicians you looked for?
If not, you might contact Louis H. Kauffman: http://www.math.uic.edu/~kauffman/
-- "Objectivity is a subject's delusion that observing can be done without him." (Heinz von Foerster)
Discussion #21, by Oliver Bandel - April 27, 2007
[Responding to Jackie Hand's comments in Discussion #18]
[Jackie wrote]: At the risk of losing my credibility...I want to propose in a very skimpy fashion that my thoughts about spatial tension are leaning toward its involvement with, or it is in part, the electromagnetic field within and surrounding the human body.
[Oliver responds]: IMHO that's not wrong and that's not right.
Do you mean truly the electromagnetic field, or the perception/creation/illusion of a (felt / (sub-emotional) tension, that you experience?
(maybe both views are going together, maybe not)
[Jackie quoted Caroline Myss]: …center and a highly sensitive perceptual system. We are constantly in ‘communication’ with everything around us…
[Oliver responds]: Maybe there is no distinction between observer and environment but the distinction that the observer creates to distinguish "itself" from "it's environment", and so the distinction, and the border is created by the subject; and in the same moment as the subject creates the distinction, the subject is created by itself, because it could only be a subject if it distincts itself from "it's environment". Is “itself” distinct itself from the environment? Did the environment let the subject distinctitself from the environment? If all is one, what distincts and what is distincted by the distincting entity?
[Jackie wrote]: I am only a year or so into my exploration and research on this. And I certainly don't want to approach it from a "woobie" place, but scientifically. The electromagnetic energy fields are more researched, discussed and written about as viable than when Laban was around.
The theory on electromagnetic fields was completely expressed in 1861, by James Clerk Maxwell. Since then all things that are new and hype (radio, television, satellite-tv, mobile-phones, wireless LAN, ... telepathy (ooops, this comes in 200 years from now ;-))) are relying (can be expressed by) on the equations, he formulated.
So, we are (2007-1861) = 104 years late....
...but atomism was founded by the old greeks and it has needed nearly 2000 years to split an atom by humans.
It will take maybe another 10,000 years until we will find out, that it makes no sense to start a war.
So, we are all beginners... ...late blumers ;-) We nearly know nothing.
Discussion #22, by Ellen Goldman - April 28, 2007
[Responding to Oliver Bandel's comments in Discussion #21]
Perhaps you are aware of Peter Madden's distinction between Motion and movement. Most of his work is not yet published, but hopefully it will be soon. I don't know enough about electromagnetic fields, but I like the possibilities. We certainly do affect each other's energy fields. I suspect this would relate to all movement, though I can see why you relate it to CPT.
Thanks for sharing.
Discussion #23, by Deborah Heifetz Yahav - April 28, 2007
I've enjoyed and found the discussion fascinating and would like to contribute a few thoughts about the distinction between spatial pull and spatial tension as a way of reworking fuzziness.
Could we consider the following refinement: That when one accesses a spatial pull, when one is drawn towards some tempting curiosity or compelling desire to reach outside of oneself and be drawn into space, that this spatial pull will occur at various degrees of intensity. And that it is perhaps the degree of intensity that we can conceptualize as spatial tension - and thus, as degrees of spatial tension -- that correspondingly mobilizes a muscular reaction to that pull. In other words, spatial tension can describe the quality and intensity of the spatial pull. Furthermore, degrees of spatial tension could be potentially measurable through the measurement of muscular tension.
Regarding electromagnetic waves: as we know from biochemistry - the release of energy (ATP) not only creates heat (light) and water but also shoots out an electric current. That's what the brain does every time neurotransmitters alter the permeability of the neuron's cell wall. So perhaps there is an electromagnetic connection when the body mobilizes increased muscular activity in response to a spatial pull.
Discussion #24, by Ellen Goldman - April 29, 2007
[Responding to Deborah Heifetz Yahav's comments in Discussion #23]
I am trying to keep up with this dialogue...sometimes I get behind, and don't respond...but I do eventually read it...at a time when I can focus. You have touched on historical issues...(Jan [Pforsich], correct this if I am wrong) . We used to call Spatial Pull, Spatial tension. It was feeling the pull of space. There was confusion with that. Hence the separation. It took me a long time to get the difference. Now that I have it, I value it. Dr. Kestenberg once hypothesized that Spatial Tension was Tension Flow projected outward. That has intrigued me. There are different ways this can be done. I imagine you have seen this a lot in your negotiation work. It would be wonderful to check the Oslo material for that. There seemed (to over simplify) as sense of Transverse spatial tension for the Palestinians, and Central for the Israeli's. Would you agree?
Discussion #25, by Deborah Heifetz Yahav - April 30, 2007
[Responding to Ellen Goldman's comments in Discussion #24]
Thank you for your response.
It seems that we can make simple something that appears complex – but I'm just one voice for as I see it where there is a pull, tension is created, like a rubber band. Whether the motivation is internal or not cannot be readily observed as Carol-Lynn so wisely affirmed. However it seems to me that there is a direct conceptual and physical relationship between the two principles.
Regarding the Oslo material – as all nonverbal communication I resist grand generalizations. What I did observe was that during informal gatherings and general greeting behavior the expression of deference, the reproduction of power relations, the affirmation of "honoring" were well embodied practices among the Palestinians as well as Israeli Druze and Bedouin as I observed during their military security interaction – and yes, I did see among them a pattern, a greater expression of transverse pathways – spatial tension if you wish although that confuses me – and in this context Jewish Israelis tended to access central and peripheral pathways. This to me reflected a number of additional patterns that brought to the fore the contrast between security as the negotiation of emotions vs. the negotiation of an instrumental logic. And this is I believe also reflective of a more general Arabic culture with highly formalized patriarchy and vertical hierarchies. Israeli culture is such an enormous hybrid mixture of cultures however the prevailing army culture does undermine a rigid hierarchy – I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but that's how it is – and these informal relationships are peppered with an instrumental, practical, direct/central/peripheral orientation to 'getting the job done" and to affirming equivalence between social actors without great pretense to making soft gestures, which are indeed instrumental to peacebuilding and building trustworthiness as the other side sees it. I hope my explanation is not too thick.
I welcome your thoughts and further insights.
Discussion #26, by Oliver Bandel - April 30, 2007
[Responding to Ellen Goldman's comments in Discussion #22]
[Ellen wrote]: Perhaps you are aware of Peter Madden's distinction between Motion and movement.
[Oliver responds]: No, I don't know this.
[Ellen wrote]: Most of his work is not yet published, but hopefully it will be soon.
[Oliver responds]: OK, can you tell us, when it will be published?
Can you explain in some sentences the essence of his thoughts?
Does he mean the difference lies in the intention of a Motion (Motion/E-Motion) which is an
In the sense of: any Motion has a/creates a movement, but not every movement is done by Motion?!
Something like this?
Discussion #27, by Kate Jobe - May 2, 2007
[Responding to Carol-Lynne Moore's comments in Discussion #17]
Hi all, I’m weighing in late in this discussion, been traveling so hi from Zurich.
I have been fascinated by several things that have surfaced here. Carol-Lynne this is the first time that I have heard of Laban distinguishing between movement aspects that are subjective (I do not believe that spatial tension is perceptible to the outside viewer. Nevertheless, it is palpable to the mover, whose body is subject to various tensions when moving within our gravitational field.) and those that are observable from the outside. Or do I understand this correctly. Where has he written about this.
Thanks everyone, for this discussion.
Discussion #28, by Betsy Kagan - May 11, 2007
Thanks to everyone for all the interesting, "multidimensional" discussion on Spatial Tension. Although some wonderful and thoughtful ideas are emerging, so far it seems the clearest thing about the topic is how fuzzy it is. In trying to take it all in - in one evening's gulp! - I found myself gravitating (sorry) towards C-L's and Vera's contributions in referring directly to Laban and Bartenieff as our best sources for coming to an understanding of the concept. Although I respect the variety of perspectives that are represented, I feel the level of conjecture around this concept is the type of problem that restricts the advancement and credibility of our cherished field. My personal tendency in LMA is to ask for practicality and usefulness in LMA concepts and focus on the distinctive nature and value it has so that 1) true consensus can be achieved and 2) we can really use the concept to clarify a concrete movement phenomenon as well as to refine our skills in handling movement complexity.
I feel Spatial Tension is one of the fundamental concepts in Laban theory essential to our understanding the meaning and experience of the scales and spatial theory. I believe it refers to the way the leading body part, usually though not necessarily the hand interacts with the body as we progress through the kinesphere. As we all know, we move centrally through dimensions, diameters, diagonals, peripherally along the edges of the octahedron, the cube, the primary etc. and transversely through the A, B, axis scales, etc. Being true to the progressions inherent in the scales allows us to discover the truths of Laban's spatial theories. The more accurately we perform the scales, the more clearly informed we become experientially about the nature of and distinctions between CP & T. Conversely, extracting the idea of Spatial Tension from the context in which it is embedded, or abstracting it as a free-floating concept brings us into the realm of disembodied speculation. For example, when we claim that we can perform a diagonal axis - by definition a central movement - with a peripheral "feeling," or "attitude" then we're stepping out of clarity and consensus and into a murky arena of subjective opinion and down the road into the kind of discussions we're having here.
I think spatial tension looses all its fuzziness and mystery when it is understood in terms of and interdependent on countertension. I feel we can only achieve spatial tension as we project the body or body part through space - when we support it through the opposite countertensional exertion. Countertension, then, is the means by which we ground our trajectories and pathways in the kinesphere. In performing a scale, for example, to achieve precision of the spatial pull through the kinesphere, we must have constantly adapting equally precise countertensional pressure into the floor. Laban understood that we are in constant relationship with the gravitational force - that unfortunately we can't walk on air, much as we'd like to (especially these days - in which case we could even avoid airport security lines!) So for me, the concept of spatial tension remains literally and figuratively "ungrounded" until it is coupled with countertension, at which point I feel it becomes a real, vital, essential concept in understanding and performing movement in space.
With respect to CPT, as specific but distinctively different forms of spatial tension, I believe each also requires a different type of countertensional support as we progress through the kinesphere. We commonly use the concept of countertension in reference to peripheral movement but I suggest that it is equally intregral to central and transverse pathways as well. To move/reach forward high through the sagittal diameter, requires a backward downward central spatial countertension. To move transversely through a volute from vertical-side-high through sagittal-back-low towards horizontal-left-forward-middle we need to use complex supportive countertensional shaping through the torso. To move peripherally along an edge requires a different application of limb/torso countertensional relationship. In all cases, the countertension impacts and defines how we manage gravity vis-a-vis the spatially informed weight shifts that enable our spatial intention/pathway to be fulfilled. By clarifying this dialogue, we can then observe, experience and perform more generalized forms of C,P, or T spatial tension in space, apart from the prescribed pathways of the scales.
I feel each area of BESS has to be understood in terms of its own integrity which then allows us to see how each area interacts with and illuminates the others – that it is not wise for example, to define a spatial concept as a combination of one type of shape change and a single effort. Where effort is concerned, the gradations in the spatial tension/countertension dialogue enable us to create or express variability of dynamic change. For example, varying the degree of downward exertion influences the degree of lightness we achieve as we rise vertically. How fully we launch ourselves back and down by decreasing the forward, upward countertension influences the amount of strength and suddenness we can express. To me this is all very concrete and unfuzzy. The kinesphere only exists in the moments in which we are creating it. We cannot afford, it seems to me, to resort to claims that we can move through central pathways with an "attitude" or "quality" of peripheral spatial tension without getting into trouble around consensus and credibility. Nor do I feel can we perceive electromagnetic fields or cerebral spinal fluid in ways that contribute to sound observational analysis - which is not to say that these approaches are not valid as the basis for valuable imagery and/or experiential exploration.
Some explanations in this discussion have referred to the dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative analysis, suggesting that concepts need to fall into one or the other category, and implying that if something cannot be "measured," then it must be regarded as qualitative and unprovable. I am personally uncomfortable with the application of "quality" or "attitudes towards" to anything but effort where it has unquestionable validity, (but I realize that gets into a much larger debate than this discussion can allow.) However, I would argue that the concepts in LMA, if not measurable by conventional standards, are governed by principles that make them concrete, observable, experientially verifiable, repeatable and predictable. Thus, for example, we can perform a movement with peripheral spatial tension in a very near reach space (quantitatively) in the kinesphere and if we're clear enough about the concepts, I think we would all agree that that's what we're seeing!
And finally, I must admit, I am a firm believer in the validity of affinities and a often a skeptic concerning dissafinities. Although this statement also opens a Pandora's Box and again exceeds the limits of the current topic, it does relate to the discussion about spatial tension. Space Harmony theory is to me brilliantly meaningful theory because of the principles and laws Laban revealed about all human movement in which the affined relationship between space and effort produce predictable results. Without embracing affinities as real and legitimate, the whole beauty and meaning of the kinesphere/dynamosphere, is lost. Again, the more accurately and concretely we can embrace these principles, the more universally applicable our system becomes and the more virtuosic our movement skills. Space/effort affinities to me are integral to our clarity regarding spatial tension.
So I would like to offer a new, perhaps radical way of thinking about the problem of distinguishing between spatial tension and spatial pathways which seems to be the basis of the confusion. I suggest that we reverse our use of the terms and apply spatial tension specifically to CPT in moving in the kinesphere, in relation to the scales and the specific movement experiences that we draw from this, and spatial pull in relation to progressions through specific points in scales. Then we could use spatial pathway, as a more general, generic term when we need to refer to ..... well ..... um ...... er....... any spatial pathway, It seems to me "pathway" kind of slips off the tongue anyway more easily when we need a word to use for all kinds of space-related movements, including those mentioned in relation to Labanotation, etc. A semantic switch in this case might be a simple way to resolve the difficulties.
I think Richard Haisma has done some brilliant work in researching this topic and want to thank him for urging us toward much needed clarification. Obviously, Richard, if you are there, I am a BIEST!
I want to add that if the validity of Spatial Intent is being questioned as a concept too, then I'm quitting the field! Laban understood almost a century ago what current brain research is only now discovering. Spatial Intent to me is right up there as one of the gifts of our theory. Please don't trash that one.
A wonderful op-ed piece in the N.Y. Times by Thomas Friedman (4/27/07) was about the new biography of Einstein. So much of what he said about Einstein seemed so true of Laban too, including his life – fleeing Hitler, etc.. Friedman quotes the author Walter Isaacson as saying about Einstein, “he was able to think visually…he found sheer beauty and creative joy in science and equations…[he felt] that a math equation or scientific formula is just a brush stroke the good Lord uses to paint one of the wonders of nature.” I think we have that genius in Laban theory as well.
Hope these thoughts are helpful.
Discussion #29, by Betsy Kagan - May 14, 2007
Hi - Thanks so much to those of you who responded to my discussion of Spatial Tension. I realized that most of you didn't know what I meant by "BIEST" when I mentioned Richard Haisma's paper called The Case for Spatial Tension which followed a meeting at LIMS on the subject in March '04. In it he refers to the DAESTs meaning the Doubters About the Existence of Spatial Tension and the BIESTs as the Believers In the Existence of Spatial Tension. It would be interesting to find out how the larger population of CMA's feel about this issue - I'm sure Richard would like to know.
Hope the discussion keeps going.
Discussion #30, by Tom Casciero - May 15, 2007
If we mean the same thing by ‘spatial tension,” then ’m a BIEST. I believe in and can see/sense spatial tension not only within the mover’s kinesphere, but also between two or more bodies in space.
I train actors using Laban Movement Studies (LMS) and use it in a variety of ways in that field. Some examples/explorations:
1. I applied the use of spatial tension to solve an acting/characterization problem when working with students at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh last year. My host, Kedzie Penfield, also a CMA working with actors, confirmed that the addition of ST crystallized the characterization, movement style, and status relationships within the scene. The director concurred, and the actress also confirmed it heuristically.
2. One can also hold the dynamic tension between oneself and another actor on stage, even compress it to create dramatic tension on stage and then release it by, for example, turning away. It creates a heightened tension in the proxemic space between the actors.
3. I also use a modified spatial tension between actor/movers when working with a Greek Chorus. There is a slight tension between the chorus members that allows them to sense each other and move or speak as a single body. One can also created a slight spatial tension between the chorus and major players in these dramas. This allows the chorus to respond subtly to the actions of the principles on stage, either to their actual movements or words, or to the subtext.
Love to hear your replies.
Discussion #31, by Richard Haisma - May 16, 2007
The Spatial Tension discussion on the CMAList is cooking along nicely. I had in any case been thinking the time was ripe to organize a group viewing and discussion around the DVD that I made now 2 years ago (did you ever see it?). The idea would be to have maybe two or three video monitors with 3 to 4 people watching each monitor separately, since a large group around one monitor is unwieldy and unproductive. Then the groups would report back to one another at the end of the workshop, which should last at least 3-4 hours if not longer. I would also in the meantime have collated the findings from the few responses I received from my questionaire which I also sent out when I sent out the DVD. (About 21 people altogether received the DVD and the questionaire to go with it. I received about 5 responses, which I was disappointed about, but then Ellen Goldman said that that was a good percentage in this particular population.)
I would like to propose that a Spatial Tension Research Workshop be held under LIMS' auspices on Friday, June 22. I would like to request that LIMS secure a space that can accommodate both some movement thru space of human bodies as well as several TV monitors, that is, enough space, for example, for John Chanick to be able possibly to demonstrate the Transverse and Peripheral barrel leap-turns that Linda Nutter said were so convincing and/or enough space for Karen Studd, or anyone else, possibly to demonstrate that it isn't Spatial Tension at all but rather Body or Effort or Shape, and this activity along with enough space for 3 or 4 monitors to be separate in their own worlds of observation/discussion. Maybe separate rooms would be an option also. If the question is asked as to why LIMS should bear the expense of renting such space(s) or why such an activity could not take place in private CMA homes, I would say that it would likely just feel a lot better if we came together in an official kind of setting, to make a formalized research attempt that can become part of our official growth, research, heritage and legacy.
This would not by any means have to be the only occasion on which we might hold such a workshop. June 22 is simply the next available date when I personally could come down to NYC from Rochester to do it. Maybe we could plan a series of different dates, so that differing clusters of CMAs could come together at different times.
In the meantime if anyone out there on the CMAlist would like a copy of the SPATIAL TENSION DVD, which contains 34 examples of movement drawn from diverse sources, you could find someone who's already got it and burn a copy -- no problem. I can email anyone the questionaire. And I would like to put out the call once again for all those who have already received the DVD along with the questionaire to PLEASE TAKE THE MERE 2 HOURS OR SO THAT IT TAKES TO OBSERVE THE VIDEO EXAMPLES AND FILL OUT THE QUESTIONAIRE AND SEND IT TO ME!!!! [Please do not send the questionaire back in any other format than a Word document via email. I found I could not read people's hand writing. Do note that the questionaire DOES contain a space for indicating that one is not seeing Spatial Tension at all. Even from some of the BIESTS there was an indication that no Spatial Tension was being observed in some of the video examples.] The results I have received from the 5 or so who have responded are extremely interesting, if only because of the LACK OF CONSENSUS as to what people are seeing. Here's the list of people who already have the DVD: Karen Bradley, John Chanick, Cheryl Clark, Laura Cox, Ellen Goldman, Ted Ehrhardt, Jackie Hand, Janet Kaylo, Kristine Lindahl, Amy Matthews, Linda Nutter, Janis Pforsich, Mary Socha, Tara Stepenberg, Karen Studd, Betsy Kagan, Bill Evans, Jacquie Davis, Kista Tucker, Janet Hamburg, Jimmyle Listenbee.
Yours in secular Space Harmony.
Discussion #32, by Peggy Hackney - May 16, 2007
[Responding to Richard's comments in Discussion #31]
Sounds like a very interesting experiment! I'm up for doing it, but I won't be in NYC anytime in the very near future--maybe in the fall. Or maybe our IMS faculty team could look at the DVD and fill out the questionnaire. Would anyone be willing to send me one??
Discussion #33, by Karen Bradley - May 16, 2007
[Responding to Richard's comments in Discussion #31]
That is the weekend of both the CORD Conference in Paris and the NDEO Conference in Mobile AL. Many of us will be at one or the other (not yet being able to manage being at BOTH, despite years of space harmony training...)
I do want to be a part of this conversation. so let's think about early fall. Of course, if many CMAs can be in NYC on June 22, go ahead. I just know many of us cannot do that this time around.
Also, I cannot find the DVD anywhere. I will pay you to resend.
Discussion #34, by Regina Miranda - May 17, 2007
[Responding to Richard's comments in Discussion #31]
What a wonderful idea! And I am with you that this kind of activity needs to be encouraged, receive support from LIMS and happen in our institute. It is LIMS mission to be a meeting place for LMA/BF research, as well as for arts & culture and education development. I take the opportunity to say that other proposals from CMAs are also cooking at LIMS and hopefully more and more we will be a house for all the Laban and Bartenieff community.
Karen asks to have this meeting in the Fall because of the other conferences that happen at the same time, or now, if we have people. So, if we have enough people to do it in June, I propose to do it now and again in the Fall! Please call me or write so that we can go over details. Meanwhile, I will already try to secure the space.
Thanks and WELCOME!
Discussion #35, by Leslie Bishko - May 20, 2007
The attached paper was posted two years ago (on the DNB Theory board?) [Richard Haisma, “Space Harmony and Choreutics” thread, October 17, 2005], and I have formatted it into a printable document. Richard’s paper, and Betsy Kagan’s recent post make this very clear for me. The concept of tension among multiple movers in space brought up by those working in theater (and Peggy’s choreographic example) creates the image, for me, that another mover (and the spatial tensions of their movement) becomes a dynamic spatial reference around which we organize our spatial intentions/pulls/tensions in relationship.
In “Making Connections,” Peggy notes that Core-Distal connectivity is an underlying pattern for Central Spatial Tension, which resonates with Richard’s proposed definition:
Spatial Tension is a dynamic elasticity that arises between at least two points when one is relatively stable and the other, while relatively mobile, also has a Spatial Intent.
Peggy also uses the term “Approach to the Kinesphere.” I’m curious about the history of this term. Spatial Tension seems more specific and, for all its fuzziness, concrete.
Discussion #36, by Richard Haisma - July 8, 2007
Tho not as long as some previous submissions on this subject, at 4 pages it feels better here as an attached Word document than as to be included in the body of this email. [The essay is shown below.]
I am waiting to hear from Regina Miranda about the possible date or dates for a Spatial Tension Research Workshop sponsored by LIMS in the Fall. I made a case for such a workshop to be no less than a full day. If people have opinions about when would be the best time of year to set aside for a day of Spatial Tension I recommend contacting Regina.
No one really responded to Linda Nutter’s submission, and yet a significant reality was embedded in what she wrote, namely, that the LIMS faculties already have in fact been teaching Spatial Tension within certain parameters for more than 20 years, that the Year-long, Intensive, and NYC Weekend Programs have long since had a specific understanding of where and how Spatial Tension fits into BESS, and that considerable consensus has existed throughout these years as to the contours of the category of Spatial Tension. It felt in the email discussions that the basic theory was either on some occasions actually not known or understood, for whatever historical reasons, or was being forgotten. What has been and is being taught in LIMS Programs is this:
1] Within the larger category of “Space” there is a sub-category called “Approach to the Kinesphere” (ATTK, for abbreviation in this email). This sub-category is different from “Reach-space”, or from “Levels”, or from the “Scales”, or from “Zones”. It has its own characteristics and integrity.
2] ATTK is divided into the two sub-categories of Spatial Pathways (SP) and Spatial Tension (ST). The former is taught as relatively quantitative and the latter as relatively qualitative, as Linda Nutter explained. The SP are considered to be like given, non-controversial facts as far as observation is concerned, while the ST frequently needs to be teased out of ambiguity thru careful and patient replay and discussion. One can perform any SP with or without ST.
3] Both SP and ST play themselves out as either Central, Transverse or Peripheral. While the C, T and P of the Pathways each exhibit a clear geometrical use of the Kinesphere, the C, T and P of the Spatial Tension each have specific qualities. The latter are palpable, visible and reproducible. (The whole category of ATTK is almost always explored and discussed as specific incarnations of CTP, and rarely, if ever, experienced as just Spatial Tension in and of itself. A questioning of that practice is implicit in our current discussion.)
4] Affinities exist between SP and ST. Dimensions, Diameters and Diagonals by definition have a Central Pathway, and a Central ST properly fulfills their nature. Volutes of A and B Scales by definition have Transverse Pathways, and a Transverse ST properly fulfills their nature. Etc.
5] Having noticed (Irmgard, et.al.) that because students will sometimes incorrectly perform a Diagonal Scale with a Peripheral edge-like quality instead of a visceral, Central quality, the mix and match of SP with ST came to be appreciated as a form of expression in its own right. A Peripheral Pathway could have a Central ST as a quality, or a Transverse Pathway could have a Peripheral ST as a quality. Etc.
6] Both SP and ST have affinities for certain Initiations and Reach-spaces.
All of the above is the Theory, in a nutshell, of ATTK that is being taught in LIMS’ programs. Results, both physical and psychological, have indeed been achieved over the years thru the use of this theory. On some significant levels it has demonstrated its fundamentality and efficacy. That we do not yet have the kind of consensus that we have with Effort or Shape is most certainly, as Linda Nutter pointed out, due to the relative newness of the theory.
As we all root around in this important subject two necessities would seem to surface. Just as Shape Theory (and the whole KMP) was not an arbitrary accretion but an organic outgrowth of Laban’s prospective researches, so too anything we decide about ATTK or ST ought to have some clearly identifiable LMA roots clinging to it. Then even more significantly than that would arise the necessity for any growth of LMA theory to clearly remain fundamental to the nature of movement itself. The beauty and strength of LMA theory is in how fundamental it is and will remain. (Example: as one trained in both Nikolais dance technique and the Laban theories, and as one who can still appreciate the brilliant contributions the former has made to dance pedagogy and art, I can nevertheless say with some assurance the latter far surpasses the former in its comprehensiveness and fundamentality. The Laban work will gradually become the universal vocabulary for dance education in this country, while the Nikolais technique, in spite of roots going back thru Holm and Wigman to Laban, and in spite of teaching “space, time and energy”, will not be able to fill this role, simply because its organization of space, time and energy is not as fundamental as Laban’s.) So if we’re going to arrive at consensus about ST we’ve got to be sure that it always carries that hallmark of LMA, which is its vicinity to the nature of movement itself.
This brings us to the question of what we are seeing when we think we’re seeing ST. This in turn leads us quickly to the composite idea of ST’s origin, which seems to be exhibiting, in our accumulating literature, two facets. Linda Nutter convincingly discussed one facet, that is, that ST is using or participating in other aspects of BESS to actualize itself. Her idea here seems crucial, that none of BESS arises out of nothing. The corollary would also seem to be true that no human movement exists that does not somehow simultaneously participate in a Body, Shape, Space and Effort configuration. So if ST is real we will likely be seeing a mobilization of other BESS categories.
The other facet of the composite idea is that of gestalt, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. To address this I’d like to call people’s attention to Example #13 in the ST DVD. There we see the figure reaching with her left arm towards Left-Forward-High. The question becomes whether, after having said that she is using Navel Radiation with the Basic Action of Extension and a Spoke-like Directional Shape on a Diagonal in Space with Bound, Direct and Sustained Effort, anything useful remains to be said. My contention in this case is that we receive a very particular and important piece of information if we also say that she is using a Central Pathway with Peripheral Spatial Tension. By so saying we notice how her Flow Effort in particular is being distributed along that Pathway, which would have been different were she using a Central Spatial Tension. As it is, it’s as if she has, like ET, a light-bulb on her finger-tip, which would not be there if that Flow were rolling out of her with Central Spatial Tension. This quality, of light at the periphery, creates that distinguishing characteristic of Peripheral Spatial Tension of edge, boundary or distancing from the center. The label, Central Pathway with Peripheral Spatial Tension (C – P or CP) signals to us a gestalt that instantly organizes our perception and yields a feeling, a mood, a characterization, or even a diagnosis.
The essay I wrote two years ago and which is posted on the DNB Theory Bulletin Board [Richard Haisma, “Space Harmony and Choreutics” thread, October 17, 2005], was responding to three self-imposed necessities: 1] that there BE a definition; 2] that the word "tension" be taken seriously if we are all using it; and, 3] what kind of definition is likely to get the results that we as educators or choreographers wish to see IN movement IN the Kinesphere. All of this should be argued not in an intellectual space but a kinetic one.
1] The only thing missing from the theory that has been taught for 20 years has been a definition of Spatial Tension itself. The resistance to creating a definition might be in part philosophic or linguistic. The Chinese language, for example, does not contain the concept of “whiteness” but rather only the “white of the snow” or the “white of the rabbit”. Our Indo-European family of languages, by contrast, has a fondness for abstractions, and frequently from an adjective or noun will add the suffix “ness” to create a concept which, in and of itself, does not exist in the real world. (cf: Plato’s eternal “tableness” or “treeness”) Does this linguistic situation go any distance in explaining the lack of a definition for Spatial Tension? Have some CMAs felt that ST by itself would be an abstraction and that it cannot exist except as in a concrete form such as Central, Transverse or Peripheral? Altho we sometimes speak of Effort in general, or of not needing to be speaking about Effort in a particular instance, or of some mover’s Effort-life, and all without having to indicate a particular Element, State or Drive, do some CMAs nevertheless feel that ST somehow cannot tolerate being talked about on the ladder of abstraction in this way?
Now, with my abundant arrogance, I do feel I have offered a definition of Spatial Tension that solves the puzzle of it once and for all. What counters and thereby rather nullifies that arrogance is not only my self-mockery but also a genuine curiosity as to whether we are ALL just imagining this ST thing, whether my definition will actually be rebutted, and whether we’ve gotten ourselves trapped in and by the word “tension”? This leads to my second self-imposed necessity: taking the word “tension” seriously.
2] Is ST really about “tension”, or, as Jan Pforsich remarked almost casually within this past year to the Weekend faculty, wouldn’t one prefer, in spite of its use in and around the categories of Effort and Shape, the word, and the meaning in the word, “quality”? How possibly hypnotized are we by the concept of tension? Isn’t it just a quality in our approach to the Kinesphere that we are seeing or experiencing? If we decided to call Effort by some other name, as for example, in Italy we call it "La Qualita'", quality, well, that wouldn't change the theory at all. If we decided to call "Spatial Tension" by some other name, would that affect the theory? In other words, is "tension" integral to the experience? If it is, I am pleased with my definition. If not, then my essay is useless, since it was based on the idea that tension implies an experience between a minimum of two points. I also like "tension" because it yields a "chi"-like electromagnetism in the air around the body that prevents the merely quantitative pathways from going or appearing dead. This leads to my third self-imposed necessity: what are we seeking with this category, and what results do we get?
3] In a sense all we are after is liveliness in the Kinesphere, as in Laura Glenn’s submission, or between Kinespheres, as in Peggy Hackney’s, Tom Casciero’s and Jennifer Mizenko’s submissions to this discussion. I sense also a yearning for a somewhat mystical connectivity between people by means of ST, that is, some means to bring an end to the atomized isolation of Western people, as perhaps surfaces in Jackie Hand’s electromagnetic explorations. At a dance trade-fair in Florence last year (yes, tutus everywhere and lycra shorts galore) I led an audience-participatory Introduction to LMA for about 100 lay people who knew nothing about the subject. Using my definition of ST I got a room-full of lively, elastic Octahedrons all smiling with pleasure. In both the Italian (2002-2004) and NYC Weekend (2005-2007) Certification Programs we saw immediate and clear liveliness in the Kinespheres of all the students as we applied this ST definition. (One of the students, a high-school dance teacher of many years experience, discovered with this approach her pelvis and center really, she reported, for the first time.) With my dance students in Italy or Rochester the two definitional points dialoging with one another, one relatively stable and the other with Spatial Intent, gets a wonderfully satisfying quality in their dancing. Nikolais took the Laban-Wigman-Holm theories and ran with them for his own theatrical purposes. He knew what he wanted, he got it, and that’s a kind of bottom line reality. We CMAs must be true to our roots and fundamentally close to the nature of movement itself, but beyond that, what we’re after, teleologically, will also define our theory.
Discussion #37, by Janis Pforsich (written in 1981), posted by Charlotte Wile - July 8, 2007
For those of you who have not already seen it, here is a paper by Jan Pforsich that I think might be useful for the Spatial Tension discussion. It was scanned and OCR’d from a type written document. I tried to correct all the mistakes made by the computer in this process. Please excuse any that I missed.
SPACE STRUCTURES, MOVEMENT QUALITIES, OR ALL OF THE ABOVE?
Originally and traditionally, the terms Central, Peripheral, and Transverse have been used to describe the various trace-forms which create the Space Harmony structures. The dimensions, the diameters and the diagonals are central lines into space. Peripheral trace-forms create the edges of the octahedron, the edges and walls of the cube, the planes, and the edges of the icosahedron. Spirals and more specifically transversals in the icosahedron plunge us into transverse movement forms.
While we tend to explore and emphasize the full-body experience of these three types of ‘trace-forms’, the terms are applied to the analysis of gesture as well. This is particularly true in Labanotation. A shift from the Major Cross of Axes in the body to “Local” crosses of axes in the various joints (particularly the limbs) can more or less easily provide us with a base for exploring and analyzing the spatial configuration of gestures.
As the Fundamentals curriculum developed, ‘getting at’ the body experience of C-P-T movement brought the body part initiation into focus. Classes became richer in the experience of more than the understanding of simple sequence of body parts which occurred in a phrase of movement. Subtle distinctions of muscular and joint initiation of action are explored; proximal versus distal initiation of a similar movement action is distinguished; activities which are defined and notated in Labanotation as “part leading” or “guiding” are incorporated, although not always spelled out in relation to the established Labanotation usage.
Previously, we had been careful to distinguish our terms C-P-T as spatial lines and not proximal/distal actions of the body parts. i.e. a peripheral movement is not just a distal/gestural action of the hand, but an ‘edge’ spatial trace-form. We still do. But the terms C-P-T (yes, even transverse) have come to be used to describe Initiation of action. The apparent question is: Are we using the same terms for what is essentially two different aspects of movement in a confusing way? Should we consider speaking of distal and proximal (and medial?) when we refer to initiation of action?
We now speak of the possibility of Centrally initiating a Peripheral movement, for example. Which, of course, is quite distinct from Peripherally initiating a Peripheral movement.
Some of us have a concept of Transverse initiation; some of us do not. There are two modes in which transverse initiation to be accomplished. One is done with the bodily experience of the whole limb surface “initiating” the movement. The second is a momentary initiation done in the joint (s) which is neither the distal nor proximal points of a limb. For the arm, one can observe the elbow joint as the first or major place of initiation.
In all of these cases, one must keep in mind that muscular “chains” will be at work throughout the limb. e.g. The shoulder will have movement as the elbow initiates a whole arm transverse movement. But the emphasis in the initiation can be seen in what one might call a “medial?” point of the whole limb.
Therefore, one can find a transverse movement done with a central (or proximal) initiation, a peripheral (or distal) initiation, an initiation straight away into the transverse trace-form with an emphasis on one of the surfaces of the whole limb (usually with a full rotary action accompanying it), or an initiation by a joint (e.g. elbow) in the middle of the limb.
An important sub-issue in this area of Initiation is the distinction between a body part initiating an action -- a momentary of often subtle movement that may or may not cause spatial displacement of the joint or part -- and the concepts of leading, guiding or following in movement. A body part may initiate an action; if it continues to lead the movement, a new movement modification is in effect, usually a displacement occurs. If a surface of a part is “leading” the term “guiding” is used. Simply recognizing these various distinctions in body part relationships needs to be done in order for us to understand what the simple/core experience of the basic spatial trace-forms is. More often than not, guiding with the fingertips or leading with hand displaced in space accompanies the experience of peripheral movement. This is in addition to distal initiation of the action. Is this just a stereotypic example for the student to grasp, or are we imbedding it into the definition of peripheral movement?
As the bridge between Fundamentals and Space Theory has been built, the description of body part connectedness, particularly the relationship of torso and limb action, with reference to the concepts of C-P-T has appeared. In Fundamentals the understanding of inter-connectedness of body parts (the head-hand-scapula-coccyx-heel connections) is emphasized. Therefore, exploration of these factors has been done in relation to C-P-T movement and differentiation is made. In central movement we speak of the movement line or kinetic chain traveling out from or into the body center to or from the limbs. This occurs whether the movement is simultaneous or successive. i.e. The joint action which occurs does not have to be successive to produce a central movement. In peripheral movement, we state that there is a sense of maintaining a distance between the limb and the body center. Some people even refer to it as ‘countertension.’ This initially seems valuable; but upon exploring Irmgard’s writings and teaching of Countertensions in space (see her book, pg. 103-107) one must be careful not to relate countertension concepts only to peripheral movement. In the case of an up-down balance in standing, the countertension concept is related to a central movement line.
Transverse movement is a struggle to describe. The phrase ‘mutually supportive shaping between the torso and limbs’ is most often used to describe this relationship. The question seems to be whether these are consistent core concepts that support the ‘body’ aspect of these spatial terms. And whether they should be incorporated into the definitions of the terms.
A final point of confusion appears as we use phrases like “‘feel’ you are creating an edge” of your icosahedron as you move through a primary scale. The published definition of Peripheral movement in Dell and Crow Space Harmony states “movement occurring in the outer limits of one‘s kinesphere.” We all know that edges can be created spatially in near reach space and in middle reach space as well as far reach space. Is this a concrete and consistent definition with regard to “intent”? The option has been to imbue a quality of “feeling” the edge, without adequately describing that event/experience.
By way of conclusion, it appears that we must take another look at our “definitions” of Central - Peripheral - Transverse movement. We must also challenge ourselves to avoid throwing the terms around without clear modification. When we say “central” do we mean to say “central initiation” or “central movement”? There are some concrete factors which first must be addressed and clarified. These must then be integrated or released from the description/definition of these three concepts. They are:
1. The spatial form or trace-form statement.
2. The use of the terms in describing initiation of movement.
3. The description of torso-limb relationship in each.
4. The description of movement “intent,” particularly with regard to part leading/guiding, size of kinesphere, and spatial expressiveness.