Our human bodies are designed for our alignment to be dynamic. This means when we move a part the whole adjusts and/or when the whole of us moves, the relationships among the parts adjust accordingly. We are designed synergistically to optimize our efficiency. This is fundamental to the harmony of human movement. Of course, due to behavioral patterns, such as sitting for long durations at a computer or in a car, this dynamic capacity is frequently diminished. But reconnecting to our inherent embodied dynamism is possible and can support self-care and well-being. The Laban/Bartenieff Movement System facilitates this process.
In the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System (LBMS) a large part of the explication of the body’s actions is from the perspective and framework of Bartenieff Fundamentals (BF), named for Irmgard Bartenieff. This perspective promotes awareness of movement to optimize function and expression. Bartenieff Fundamental Principles (BFPs) are specific concepts that support awareness to enhance and enrich our movement. BFPs are not movement themselves but rather motifs to focus attention on the process of moving or to explore the experience of moving in order to gain and deepen awareness of movements possibilities. What follows is an explanation of the Bartenieff Fundamental Principle of Dynamic Alignment
Defining the terms:
What is a Principle?
- A principle is a foundational idea that serves as the foundation for a system (in this case the BF part of LBMS)
- A principle is a concept that is a guide for action
What is Dynamic ?
- characterized by constant change, activity, or progress
- relating to forces producing motion
What is Alignment ?
- arrangement in appropriate relative positions
- a position of agreement or alliance
In LBMS the BFP of Dynamic Alignment focuses on the synergy of the part/whole relationship of the form and function of our body. Dynamic Alignment supports fulfilling the intent of our action. This principle recognizes that a change in a part creates a change in the whole.
All the BFPs support movement awareness, and through awareness expanded movement possibility.
The science of human physiology reveals how the body is an interconnected system. And like the body itself, the Laban/Bartenieff system for movement analysis is also structed around the interconnectedness of its parts. Therefore, the BF Principle of Dynamic Alignment links to many other parts of the whole of LBMS including the Theme of Mobility/Stability. And in turn this major movement theme can be linked to other BF Principles such as Active Weight Support and Shift and this implies how in different Patterns of Body Organization the neuromuscular patterns of kinetic chains involved in our Body Level Phrasing occur. Links can be made also to the BF Rhythms and to activation through BF Connections. All these other aspects of BF – Connections, Rhythms and Patterns of Body Organization, are all more specific concepts linked to specificity of action. These other parts of the BF framework can also be addressed individually – perhaps in a later blog post!
Dynamic Alignment recognizes the Space Harmony of human design. This is primary addressed in looking to the skeletal structure of our bony architecture. From this perspective it is often useful to look at the triangles and arches in understanding the Mobile/Stable relationships of parts.
Some examples that illustrate the relationships of the architecture of our bony landmarks to explore in movement:
- The diamond that can be envisioned from the bony landmarks of pubic symphysis, coccyx and greater trochanters of the femurs.
- The triangle created from the landmarks of the calcaneus (heel bone) and 1st and 5th meta-tarsal bones of the foot on medial and lateral (big toe/little toe ) sides
- The connection between sternum and occipital portion of skull (back of head to breastbone ) – – as an oblique line useful in accessing the depth of the Center of Levity of our upper body core and experiencing the head/upper spine as a limb and also linked to the Spinal Pattern of Body Organization.
Accessing our body parts and envisioning them as we move supports awareness of the Inner/Outer connection we have as movers in our environment. And this Theme of Inner/Outer is another major movement theme recognized in the system. This awareness of the Inner/Outer continuum provides a way to map the body experience. And as we know maps create a context to situate our experience by providing references. In LBMS Rudolf Laban famously mapped the personal space of our movement. Likewise, his protégé Irmgard Bartenieff provided ways to map the body’s organization. Together their work provides movers access to a comprehensive reference map for the observation and experience of human movement. This is the basis of the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System.
There are countless examples that can be used to explore the dynamism of our body’s part/whole synergy to awaken sensations and gain new awareness of our movement potential through the content and container of our moving form. It should also be noted that while the focus in this post is on the Body Component of LBMS, the other movement components – Effort, Space and Shape also contribute to the experience of our human dynamism – – this perhaps can be food for a future blog post…