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Rudolf Laban is one of the founders of dancing movement. His school follows the ancient model and insists on a general physical development. By developing and cultivating the kinesthetic and similar feelings, we strive to acquire ability to turn a number of spontaneous motor reactions into consciously chosen, disciplined and purposeful actions.
By a subtle sense of movement, we will be able to remember our experience of it, to recognize it, analyze it, compare it with others, assess it and repeat it. It is something that only each individual can find for himself. Therefore the most useful thing is to practice a free use of kinetic and dynamic possibilities.
It is then that man can opt for the movements that suit him best. Dance is reduced to the technique of movement bodily-technical expression by way of which life pulsates in man. It becomes a playing form of the manifestation of the rhythm of life which through the dancing technique is imposed on man. Laban insists on music, in which the rhythm of life is expressed, as the basic means for determining the rhythm of movement.
Music does not arouse human feelings, does not direct man to experiencing life and his own tragic state in it: it is a technical mediator of rhythm. The fewer possibilities man have to realize his playing being in his everyday life, the richer the world of play should be. Play becomes a rational reflexion of the ruling non-playing life rhythm. Dancing becomes the most direct form of the creation of the aristocratic community as an organic community.
Bodily movement is deprived of a symbolic meaning, which exists only in a concrete culture. Instead of a cultural, we deal with a technical pattern of movements and a space which is part neither of a natural nor of a social environment.
It is about artificial movements based on an artificially intoned rhythm, which insist on a mechanicistic and geometrical expression.
Rudolf Laban: “Movement Education”
The highest ideal of dancing is a geometrically constructed acrobatics in which man demonstrates the ability of his body to perform motions. There is no ancient techne which involves a skill expressing the wholeness of man as a cosmic, which means political socialbeing; the starting point is rather a movement based on modern technique. The development of human powers appears in relation to nature: dancing technique becomes a form of mastering and instrumentalizing natural forces.
It is reduced to the development of technical execution of movements — which occurs under a mystical aureole creating an apparent spiritual escape from the existing world. In this context, the emphasis is on the abundance of physical movements and on the individual choice, and not on the repressive form of bodily expression, as is the case in ballet. Each movement appears on a scale of movements and its esthetic value is measured against the standards of acrobatics, and not by the judgment of taste dominant in art.
Dancing is not the cultivation of man as a natural and social being, but the estheticizing of technical movements in which pulsates the life rhythm of the ruling order. In that context, the nature of folk and other dances is discussed in technical, and not cultural and libertarian visionary terms.
In the archaic period man strove to follow the rhythm of natural events above all, the sunset and sun rising, moon, etc.
The same goes for the folk culture which was based on working cycles connected with the seasons. By the development of the religious conscious, the rhythm of life is connected to symbolic events in which the will of gods is recognized. In Rousseau, the origin of the playing disposition is the natural movement. For Romantics, the bodily movement is the expression of the flight of the spirit to new worlds Schiller, Goethe, Klopstock. As far as sport is concerned, it is an area in which the ruling life rhythm blends into the rhythm of play.
Laban tries to integrate man into the existing world by giving him a playing image. That medium is obviously within the area we call dancing and acting. It is a play in formal or technical, but not in human historical, cultural, libertarian, social terms. The rhythm of capitalist totalizing of the world is expressed in a dynamic rhythm and a variety of technical forms of movement.
The same applies to joggingfitness -centres, aerobicsetc. As far as the frequency of sports performances is concerned, it corresponds to the rhythm of the reproduction of capital, which means the rhythm of the destruction of culture and life: the entertainment industry follows the rhythm of capitalist reproduction. This is what conditions the frequency of the increasingly bloody and destructive sports spectacles. The spiritual source of play is not revolution, which implies an aspiration to the creation of a new world, as it was for Schiller, Goethe, Fait, Klopstock — it is the existing world and the strivings to escape from it.
Play does not affirm the libertarian-creative principle, but the principle of escapism, and ultimately, the principle of conformism.
There is no vision of the future, and thus of a movement towards new worlds and, in that context, the movement of man towards man. In play, man does not develop all his human potentials which enable him to find a place in the existing world.
The spirits of the past are evoked Coubertin, Huizinga or mystical forces Laban which are but a mask hiding the ruling order, in a lifeless space void of the sunlight and warmth, blue skies, moon and stars, fresh air and smells of flowers, murmur of spring, flight of birds and swaying of wheat….
Is this an abstract power or it refers to concrete historical processes and the governing capitalist order in which man lives? Both in his working and his leisure time man is the tool of the capital for its reproduction. Play becomes respite from the existing world in the existing world, in a way which does not question that very same world.
The dialectic of nature, along with the dialectic of history, is being abolished. The existing world is not the result of a historical development based on a libertarian struggle, it is a given. There is no conflict with the existing world whereby a novum would be generated.
Cosmos is ruled by determinism, while man is a libertarian being and thus is a specific cosmic being. As far as the original natural rhythm is concerned, the answer that indicates the essence of play can be found in the relation of man towards man, and not in the relation of man towards his body. The original rhythmical impulse does not derive from the inanimate world, nor from the organic the rhythm of heart, etcbut from the life-creating procreative relation between the genders.
Breast-feeding of children is of the same character. However, to impose on play the rhythm of life, based on the rhythm of capitalist reproduction with an irrational and non-rhythmical character, means that play does not have to have, and even should not have, a rhythmical character.
While I. Duncan approached dancing from the point of view of its expressiveness through movements, and J. Dalcroze from the aspect of the rhythmical connection between dancing and music, Laban, approaching dancing as an artist and architect, in the spatial relation of dancing movements perceived the essence of the dancing art.
Dancing space is an artificial technical space. In it, man is outside historical, cultural and thus libertarian time. It is a peculiar dancing box, while dancers are moving dolls whose rhythm of movements is determined by invisible threads of the governing order: dancing is an immediate reflexion of the governing life rhythm.
Hence the dominant relations are quantitative small-big, near-far…. A hand is raised hesitantly as if undecidedly feeling and cutting through an invisible spatial body; legs follow: direction has disappeared. Suddenly, the space behind her grabs her and pulls her backwards along a newly formed path: counter-movement. Dance between high and low, between forward and backward, meetings with oneself, a fight in space for space: dancing; quietly, softly and abruptly, wildly.
Suddenly, a flash of cognition. Large, invisible, transparent space of formless waves; rising of the hand transforms it and shapes it. Ornaments appear, great, large, and disappear; elaborated arabesques come by hopping through space.
Amids all that — a leap; broken shapes sizzle with anger; a quick whirl, walls recede. She drops her hands, standing still again, staring at the empty space, at the realm of dancers.
Dancing as a directed physical activity creates a psychic state by means of which real visions in space are created mirages which are feelings shaped in a dancing way. By physical exercises man brings himself in a peculiar trance in which he loses contact with reality. Dancing movement becomes a meditative activism, similarly to bowing, swaying and uttering prayers. Instead of a conflict, as it is the case in sport, dominates an autistic immersion in oneself.
Dancing comes closest to the ancient ekstasisbut in play there is no spiritual unity with the divine, nor the confrontation of man with his tragic destiny. The tragic indeed exists, but it is tragic in itself: it is experienced, but is not comprehended. In a peasant community, play was a manifestation of the joy of living of a man who lived and existed in a working, erotic, folk, cultural community. Contemporary play is the play of a lonely individual.
Instead of developing in man an active, change-oriented relation to the world of non-freedom and a need for people, playing directs him to an autistic obsession with himself, his body, motion… The fanatic focusing on playing is the expression of a fatal, hopeless loneliness. It is a peculiar trance attained by physical activism which is of a ritual character, and is reduced to auto-hypnosis. Dancing group is not a homogenous community of emancipated social beings, but a quasi-social community of lonely people.
An escape from society to the dancing space is an escape of man from himself as a social being. Instead of obtaining a libertarian role, play obtains a therapeutic and compensatory role. Play does not involve the creation of a new humane world, but a reproduction of the existing world. Those characteristics of dancing were also discovered by modern psychotherapy.
From life, as the starting point, we shall lead our trainees to a poeticizing of motion. The road, indeed, leads from the common to the uncommon, from the everyday to the unusual, from a rational to a dancing movement.
Instead of a creative dimension, educating children through play has a therapeutic and prophylactic dimension, ultimately — an adaptive dimension. Playing group is reduced to a community of bodies that follow the same rhythm.
What is the role of play in directing the behaviour of adults? Those means are included in the very syllabus of the art of movement which touches also that phenomenon.
We could almost say that a lack of such education is too often observed in everyday, interpersonal relations. In our streets and public places passers-by push each other, collide or stumble. Similar scenes can be seen in schoolyards and sports halls. Man is not a historical visionary being, but is reduced to the present given. Web Stranica. Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
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