Basic Body Action of Connecting

K. Studd Summer 2020

Connecting  is defined as:   The action and intent of linking or joining 2 or more things – literally or figuratively.

The Laban/Bartenieff Movement System is a way to model or map the phenomenon of human movement. Models and maps are useful, but they are NOT the phenomenon themselves. Models and maps are tools. Over time, the models and maps we use are updated, and tools are refined. This process of change is part of the large pattern of human evolution and development and includes the process of continuing differentiation of the parts from the whole.

Always bear in mind that –

Movement is contextual

Movement is complex

Movement has intent (although not always about our conscious, or even unconscious intent, as a sneeze of course does serve a functional intent, but is not the same kind of intent as that of our actions of volition that movement analysis addresses.

The addition of Connecting to the list of Basic Body Actions under the LBMS Body Component is indicative of the ongoing development and evolution of the System. Part of this evolution is connected (!) to the recognition of parts that are not identified in the model (i.e. the LBMS taxonomy) or in making explicit what has been often implicit in how we frame what we observe through the lens of movement analysis. The addition of the Basic Body Action of Vocalizing is another example of this development. But in this blog post, I want only to address the action of Connecting.

It needs to be noted that, in the complex phenomenon of movement, many times there are simultaneous actions – such as rolling (Rotation) and Traveling. But in the case of a scenario in which these actions occur simultaneously, one (or the other) of these actions maybe the primary intent of the mover and that the other is rather a modifier of the main action. So, for example, I might be (1) engaged in the Basic Body Action of Rotation through rolling and this might result in my traveling through space. Or (2) it might be that Traveling (locomoting from one place to another) might be my primary intent and my action of rolling was simply one way of doing it. Or (3) that these two actions simultaneously might be fused and equally significant. Movement Analysis allows us to differentiate these 3 possibilities.

How do we connect? We connect through:

  • touch
  • gesture
  • sound
  • eye contact
  • proximity and facing

The Connecting Basic Body Action is often correlated with the Directional Movement and Shaping Modes of Shape Change because, like all Basic Body Actions, there is at some level a Body/Space Relationship. However, keep in mind that Connecting falls under the Body Component and that is what is being discussed here.

Let’s look at this action of Connecting from some examples:  

I might, in some context, come into contact with a group of people and go through the motion of shaking hands. However, Connecting may not be what is foregrounded in my experience and may not be my primary intent, but rather something that is peripherally occurring. I might be, in this situation, also facing these persons but not really making eye contact, although I can see them. Yet in another situation, I might have an active intent to connect as I engage in the actions of handshaking and making eye contact, and these can then be understood as actions of Connecting. The terms core and periphery can serve us metaphorically in this understanding. In addition, we can look to the process and intent of the practice of Motif as we seek to address intent. Motif asks – what is the essence, what is significant? What is the primary action? In this way Motif allows us to better understand how actions convey or support the intent.

In another example of how we express the Basic Body Action of Connecting, I might want to show my support for someone and so shift in space to be positioned next to them. I might not, in this example, make eye contact or touch the person, but could have the intent of Connecting through the change in spatial relationship. In this example and the prior examples of handshaking and making eye contact, the addition of the Basic Body Action of Connecting is linked also, to expanding the system to look not only at actions, but also to address the concept of interactions.

In another example, I might connect to the handrail of a staircase. This example comes from my personal experience with stairs, due to having had a serious fall down a flight of stairs. I now always seek to connect to the rail for support before traveling down a staircase. Someone else might not need this action of connecting to the rail at all. But in my phrase of this sequence of action, I begin with the action of Connecting before the action of Traveling. Remember that Phrasing is how all movement occurs in creating meaningful sequences of actions. So, it is not a coincidence that the Phrasing Bow and the Basic Body Action of Connecting share the same form of the Bow arc shape of Motif. Phrases are, after all, based in connecting the parts into containers of action of a shared idea/intent.

Like many, many aspects of movement analysis there are both macro and micro perspectives and macro and micro patterns involved in the actions of connecting. LBMS continues to develop and evolve at both of these macro and micro levels. The users of the system are the refiners of this tool, as both pattern perceivers and pattern makers in the ongoing process of the development of our knowledge and understanding of human movement.