The Body category of LMA (or sometimes called L/BMA to include Bartenieff) was developed by several people, but Irmgard Bartenieff was the main innovator. The Patterns of Total Body Connectivity (PTBCs) are based on neurological patterns that an infant works through in about the first 14 months of life. The patterns, and the physiological development that occurs as babies work through them, allow new sensations and new experiences. What must it be like the first time a baby rolls over? What a change in perspective! The patterns, in order, are: 1. Breath, 2. Core-Distal, 3. Head-Tail, 4. Upper-Lower, 5. Body-Half, and 6. Cross-Lateral. Each pattern gives the body a different way of organizing and coordinating itself in movement. Above you see the symbol that represents the first pattern, the Breath Pattern.
This pattern, which is the focus of the following video, is not only the first but also the pattern from which all of the others develop. Breath is in every subsequent pattern. Breath supports movement, makes it easier, and connecting to breath can center you and bring your focus to your inner mobility and structure.
To become aware of the breath is to simply observe it--no need to make changes! If you like, try sending breath to different places in the body, try varying the depth and frequency of your breath. Does it change how you feel? In what way?
In the following video I ask that you inhale to initiate down bows and exhale for up bows. What do you feel if you try the opposite? Think of these videos as starting points for creative, experimental practicing. Enjoy!
"The main objective...is to suggest additional modes of perceiving yourself and the world around you, using your live body totally--body/mind/feeling--as a key to that perception." (Irmgard Bartenieff, 1979)
Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) gives us a scaffolding and a vocabulary to understand, observe, and describe human movement. Founded by Rudolf Laban, a dancer, choreographer, and dance theorist, and further developed by Irmgard Bartenieff, among others, the system is composed of four categories: Body, Effort, Shape, and Space. The Body category concerns internal connectivity, sequencing of movement, initiation, phrasing, and relationships between parts of the body. Effort is the category of intention--how is the movement of reaching across your desk for a pencil different from a boxer's punch? Effort is often considered the "emotional" category. Truly emotions can have an effect on the type and quantity of energy you invest, but it is best not to make assumptions about emotion when observing movement. Each person's movement signature, the movements they are most comfortable and familiar with, means something slightly different. The Shape category addresses the form and forming processes of the body. This category clarifies the appearance and structure of the body's movement.(Colleen Wahl, 2019) Lastly, the Space category explores how the mover is engaging with the space, revealing space, stirring it up, pushing against it, and so on. It also deals with where you are directing your movement in 3-D space: forward, back, left, right, up, down, a combination of several?
This is only the beginning! More specifics will come with video explorations of particular ideas and aspects of LMA and how it relates to playing the cello. Stay tuned!