Written by Charles Gambetta et al.
Following is a compilation of discussions originally posted on the CMAlist in February, 2015
Hello Laban friends,
I am in the midst the section of my conducting text devoted to Weight, and I want to make sure my experience and understanding of Passive Weight are on the mark.
As a starting point I found the following definition of Passive Weight on lmaeffortbank.com:
"Passive Weight is manifest when one lets gravity "win." Passive weight happens when you surrender to the force of gravity, whether fully into a complete collapse (Heavy Weight) or partially (Limp Weight)
I use Passive Weight more extensively in my conducting than most other conductor past or present that I've observed. (I also use it when I play the double bass, but that's another discussion altogether.
Heavy Weight seems very clear for me. If I lift my right arm in the sagittal plane from Forward/Middle to Forward/High and then release it, surrendering my arm (its weight) to gravity and allowing it to fall to my side, I have just experienced Heavy Weight with that fall, right?
Although I frequently move with something I experience as Limp Weight, I feel I need validation from a "higher source," my Laban colleagues on the CMA List, before I present the material in my text.
If I extend my right arm in the sagittal plane from Place/Middle to Forward/Middle and then move back and forth between Forward/Right and Forward/Middle with just enough bodily tension to keep my arm from sinking or dropping, that would be an example of Limp Weight, right? When I move with what I experience as Limp Weight, I envision the sensation similar to a marionette on strings. The weight of my arms is supported by strings or chords that extend above to some external force that barely overcomes gravity. If my arm(s) do rise, they feel as if they are being pulled upward by the same force. I still sense the weight of my arms as opposed to not having an awareness of the weight when Weight is activated.
I welcome suggestions, comments and corrections if I am off-base.
Thank you for your help!
Sat 2/21/2015 8:27 PM
From: Fanchon Shur
I love your description of limp as a marionette strings some people may call that neutral weight and I would love some discussion back on that but I agree that it would be limp
others have described in the past limp as for instance when your arm is up with your wrist is releasing your entire hand in the limp way with no purpose in the hand a sense of giving up but if that's giving up had been with another part of your body it would be passive weight
Sat 2/21/2015 9:42 PM
From: tara stepenberg
greetingssharing my bit - your description of passive (heavy) weight is clear as one variety. Passive (heavy) weight can also be like a lumbering or plodding walk - a giving into gravity, as contrasted with a resilient walk -(rebounding in relationship to gravity). I don't think passive weight has to be a complete collapse. Your description of limp (passive weight on the "light" side) is also is one clear variety. In my understanding - limp relates to light (without being active lightness) and heavy, relates to the strong continuum of the weight effort (without being an active use of weight).
Sun 2/22/2015 12:49 AM
From: Fanchon Shur
my husband of 56 years was a conductor and I watched him persistently and one day a CHoralle I won an auction to conduct and I made a deal with the Choralle that I would conduct if they used a piece of my husbands music which they excepted and I enjoyed getting the basic conducting rhythms from him and having to invent my own dancers conducting mode. The most difficult part of it was to gether my very expressive dancers movements into minimalized hi focused direct and multi focused with urgency or deceleration always to have underneath but to allow the musicians the singers to always have that unified reliability of the rhythm it was not easy
I would love to read your paper
with great blessings and fond memories
Sun 2/22/2015 5:29 AM
From: Ann Hutchinson Guest
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This question of limp and the discussions presented so far leads me to think it may be time for the LMA community to consider seriously my questions about Laban's terminology. To begin with, he was not clear about the center of gravity; he thought it resided in the upper rim of the pelvis. We now know that it is a moveable point and may indeed, even be outside the body. Laban never separated the pull of gravity, the weight of the body itself and the use of force, energy. His use of the word 'weight' is not helpful when part of the time he means force, strength. Warren Lamb came to drop the term 'weight' and establish his own use of the term 'force' which is much clearer.
Because Laban was working in factories where people had to be actively energized, he dropped the 'relaxed', 'weak' that he had used in Eukinetics. Much later, when LMA people found the need for 'relaxed', it was given the term 'passive weight'. What exactly does that mean? An ordinary person will immediately understand the words 'weak','relaxed', 'limp', 'drooping', 'flop'. These are states in which the normal amount of energy used to maintain upright posture and function with everyday tasks, is lowered. A lowering, dropping of energy. Laban may not have needed any of these degrees for his factory workers, but we do need them for theatrical purposes, drama, dance, even for instructions in various techniques whether it be dance, playing an instrument, some form of sport, etc. The degree of such lowering of energy is often important and needs to be indicated.
Many years ago I circulated to all interested my full questioning of this whole subject. No one took up the challenge. Just on the matter of terminology it may be time to seriously reconsider a clean sweep in favor of terms that will connect directly to contemporary minds.
As I am sure you all know, I am a constant admirer of all that is being achieved through use of the highly developed system. My question now is whether it is time to look at the foundations of the ‘house’ particularly in relation to terminology.
With all good wishes,
Sun 2/22/2015 9:01 AM
From: Susan Wiesner
Leslie Bishko has been thinking about weight with regards to animation, and the need to rethink terminology and definition. I am struggling with teasing out weight/mass/force in a project observing airborne movement. This is also important to my work on computer (visual) perception of weight/mass/force of movement. Seems that more discussion is needed. Just my 2 cents. (And I'm not a CMA yet, but soon!!!)
Susan L Wiesner
Sun 2/22/2015 11:36 AM
From: Peggy Hackney
Dear Ann, Susan, and Charles,
I definitely know the depth of the controversy about Passive Weight, and we DO use the words Limp, Weak, Heavy, etc. We chose the term "Passive Weight" to cover the general category of weight use when gravity is the major mover. Charles, I feel what you have listed in your original letter is what our IMS team has been teaching.
Ann, my sense of your perspective after our many discussions personally over many years, is that you have a more "Quantitative" understanding of the Weight or Force Factor, and I feel it is more a "Qualitative" approach to the use of weight. I agree that perhaps we should have a large ALL LABAN discussion of this Motion Factor! If we move toward more quantitative in our understanding, we would need to do that in terms of the Time Effort as well, in instance. To do such a thing, would be to really change our approach to the Effort category in general.
Of course, in motion capture and the computer world in general, quantitative is what the computer "sees."
What do the rest of you out there in the movement analysis world think/feel/sense/intuit about the Weight Factor??
Sun 2/22/2015 11:50 AM
From: Karen Bradley
I completely agree with Peggy on her "big picture" approach to the issue here that challenges us. I just had a great phone conversation with Susan Wiesner about exactly the challenge of quantifying qualities that occur within a range, especially a range of perceptivity from both the mover's and the observer's point of view.
It is both exciting and daunting to be at this place in our field. One path would lead us down the road to quantitative analysis that could characterize, in the best and the worst senses of that word; another could lead us to a somewhat more mysterious position of being seers or shamans, in the best and the worst senses as well. I hope for many paths from this diverse group of experts!
But the issue is here, before us, now. How do we want to proceed with the conversation? If we get into messiness and agendas on this listserve, people will leave it, as we have seen before. I urge the higher ground here.
As for Charles: I recommend that you go with the broadest definition of limp/heavy, strong/light, and I do see some consensus around those broader definitions in this conversation. I think it also helps to make sure you look at other factors that may be, literally, at play in your analysis. Like Flow, Space, and Time! We have new texts that address some perspectives--I recommend EveryBody is a Body -- but there are more out there and coming!
Sun 2/22/2015 12:23 PM
What have I started!? ;)
My thanks to everyone who has jumped into this discussion.
My original post posed a question about Passive Weight--NOT Weight Effort. As an LMS practitioner, I am comfortable with perceiving, analyzing and, most importantly for me, experiencing Weight Effort as well as Time, Space and Flow qualitatively.
Perhaps it is time to come up with new terms to describe Limp and Heavy... well, at least Limp.
I associate a sensation (weight sensing, right?) of weightlessness with Limp Weight as if I am outside the Earth's gravity or perhaps on the moon or some extraterrestrial body where gravity is greatly diminished.
Conversely, I associate a sensation of gravity greater than the Earth's with Heavy Weight (perhaps one of the smaller gas giants or some larger, more dense planet in a distant star system) as if my Earthly strength were insufficient to fully overcome gravity.
Sun 2/22/2015 9:15 PM
From: Ellen Shapiro
I am just concerned about your description of "limp" as without weight. One cannot engage in weight, and not be Limp. I do feel Limp is a specific state of giving into weight, a letting go, but not an omission of eight, as a Visionary person might be. We may just be using different language, but I do feel the need to add this notion. Thanks everyone for the interesting discussion.
Sun 2/22/2015 10:25 PM
From: Hilary Bryan
Mon 2/23/2015 12:03 PM
From: Ann Hutchinson Guest
I am fascinated by the varied responses that have come in on my “Weight, Limp” contribution. Thank you all for your input. In response to Peggy’s suggestion that my take is more quantitative rather than qualitative, I would like to contribute a bit more on my view.
I prepared an essay on expanded notions of Weight and Time in our system. I was getting ready to share it with just a few people for feedback...but this seems like a good opportunity to put it out there!
From: Leslie Bishko
I'm chasing this rapid-fire thread through my emails this morning! I posted my essay before reading these comments.
I LOVE the idea of a WORLD SUMMIT on EFFORT!
A thought on quantitative/qualitative -- my experience as someone who creates movement using animation is that there is a dance between the two. Our system embraces both, and if we can really claim this characteristic, we can make our work more accessible across the arts and sciences. I believe that the time is ripe for this!
Wed 2/25/2015 5:11 AM
From: Ann Hutchinson Guest
I believe that we need multiple terms for Weight-related concepts in multiple categories of our system.
Wed 2/25/2015 7:50 PM
Hi all. I am new here, finishing up my CMA at LIMS in NY. So loving this conversation, and it is so timely for me right now, as I am dealing with analyzing the dances of my (at the time) 14 month old baby (which some of you probably saw on Facebook when it went unexpectedly viral). Dealing with Weight Effort in my analysis, both active and passive, and DYING for new terms. I actually love the term Weight for passive, as it seems that this is the place when we are dealing most with Sensing (pull of gravity and actual physical body weight), and less with FORCE. To me, ENERGY as a house for Effort feels too ambivalent, as if it is something happens to us, rather than from us. But Weight Effort has never struck me as an effective description for application or active reduction of pressure. I'm a fan of the old school "FORCE," though I agree it could be easily misapplied (but then, so is BOUND FLOW often misapplied).
Thu 2/26/2015 1:23 PM
From: tara stepenberg
so much interesting questioning here. my two-cents for today...... in my experience (and "old" training) , the "passive" category is unique to the weight effort. What Alexandra is describing regarding other effort/motion factors is not about a "passive" attitude toward those factors, but rather that other efforts or shape modes are manifest. I also understood Pre-efforts to be movement expressions that are "on their way" to being crystalized efforts, not "passive" in relation to those motion factors. And it has been a while since i explored those ideas.
Guess we all might be spending time gathering movement examples - live and on video for analysis. more another day.
Thu 2/26/2015 2:19 PM
From: Leslie Bishko
- My first image of this came to me in the experience of playing jump rope, when two people begin twirling the rope, and the jumper intuits the decisive moment to jump in. As a child, I recall doing this with my hands, moving them in time with the cycle of the rope. It also has a Weight Sensing element to it. When do I move my weight? When....when....now!
- Habitual foot jiggling, which also has a Weight Sensing quality. While a person jiggles their foot, they are creating their own experience of time. While many people jiggle at a fast pace, my husband moves his whole lower leg at a pace just less than one cycle per second when he is engaged in watching a soccer game on TV. The jiggle engages him in his own time rhythm and seems to support his sense of anticipation as he watches and waits for progress in the game.
- Swaying and swinging actions may provide other examples.
Weight Sensing: Gentle, Vigorous
Time Sensing: Leisurely, Urgent
Rhythm Sensing State:
Thu 2/26/2015 5:35 PM
From: Sandra Hooghwinkel
Loving the discussion!