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  • Writer's pictureSunita Asnani

#17 Eight efforts

Wring, press, flick, dab, glide, float, punch, slash.

Rudolf Laban (1879-1958) was born in 1879 in Bratislava, Hungary (in what is now Slovakia) to a military family. He is historically known as the founder of European modern dance. His influence on contemporary dance and classical ballet is evident everywhere.

Laban was a dancer, choreographer, visionary, humanist, teacher and movement theorist. He applied his theories to many fields - from the performing and visual arts to education to efficiency studies on factory workers. As an author and teacher, he influenced many different artists and thinkers of his time. He also shaped the foundations of the new German dance theater that blossomed after the 1960s with Pina Bausch.

After Laban studied dance in Paris, he tried to find a code of movement derived from the nervous, intellectual, and emotional responses of the human body that was all-encompassing and not constrained by a rigid technical system.

He categorized human movement into four components:





Each of these parts has two elements

The direction is direct or indirect

The weight heavy or light

Speed is fast or slow

Flow is bound or free

Laban then combined these parts to create the "Eight efforts":

Pressing, Gliding, Flowing, Wringing, Whipping, Flickering, Dabbing, Pushing.

For each effort, Laban determined which components should be used.

Pressing - slow - direct - firm

Gliding - slow - direct - light

Flowing - slow - flexible - light

Wringing - slow - flexible - firm

Whipping - fast- flexible - firm

Flickering - fast - flexible - light

Dabbing - fast - direct - light

Pushing - fast - direct - firm

I let myself be inspired by this. The two videos of mine are not to be understood as a lab study, but as freely inspired approaches to the eight efforts.

"Ghostdance" came about spontaneously, out of sheer joy in the sun and the shade in Ticino. I made a series of videos there, inspired by the powerful nature and the incredible colors in Val Verzasca. In all the shots I played with the frame of the camera view, and how I could move in and out of the frame with different qualities. This gave me the idea to deal with the 8 qualities of movement when back in Bern.

The second video "chair 8": I ran an audio recording in endless loop for the video, in which I had spoken the 8 Efforts on it in random order. It was a stormy day with constant weather changes. The chair gave me an anchor from which I could allow myself to move into emotional states.


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