image of Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory from Wikipedia

In the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System (LBMS) the phenomenon of time is not explicated and is not identified as a discrete component of movement in the system.

Time is addressed implicitly, but it is not identified (generally speaking) as a separate entity. Tangentially, it is interesting to note that in the models of contemporary Physics the concepts of time and three-dimensional space are regarded as fused in a four-dimensional continuum identified as “spacetime”. 

Aspects of time are present however in several parts of the Laban/Bartenieff system. Time is concretely and specifically addressed in phrasing patterns. In a phrase time is expressed as sequence. So, in a phrase the order of actions through time is indicated. There are multiple examples of this temporal aspect of movement expressed through sequence and identified as “phrasing” in the theory and practice of LBMS.

From the perspective of the Body Component for example, we might identify  a phrase in which the progression of action through the body is initiated in the core and progresses to the limbs. Or in an Effort Component example, we might see a phrase which  begins with a Strong/Free/Quick action and then changes as it resolves into an action that is Bound/Direct , i.e. Passion Drive becoming Remote State. Or from the Space Component we can look to the practice of Steeple and Volute Phrasing in the transverse A and B movement scales. These two patterns of spatial phrasing are  practiced as a technique to gain insight into larger patterns of Space Harmony,  where change over time is experienced as either abrupt or gradual. And for an example coming from the Shape Component, we can identify the Modes of Shape Change in their developmental progression (over a much longer duration of time and a more macro perspective than the previous examples).  Starting from the infant’s Shape Flow actions and continuing to the child’s developing Directional Movement capacity and then finally to being able to articulate the action of Shaping. This is  an example of a sequence of time seen through the progression of psycho-motor development starting in infancy.

Time is also addressed in LBMS through relative duration. This allows us to identify how long an action is – i.e.  how much time an action takes.  Time duration can also link to rhythm  (although it should be noted that rhythms can be focused on emphasis and/or proportion separate from the consideration of time).

There is, of course, one aspect of time that the system does explicate. This is time as a qualitative part of the dynamics of movement. This is addressed in the system as the Time  Effort Factor which identifies the experience of time and expressed through the process of acceleration or deceleration in action. In the Time Effort Factor, Time is characterized as either being indulging – as expressed in the lingering affect of deceleration, or condensing by the intent of actions revealing the intention of acceleration process. Thus, Time Effort addresses the process, observed or experienced, in moments of slowing down or speeding up.

Tempos of time are not specifically addressed in LBMS, and this is a point that could bear more consideration because clearly how fast or how slow change occurs can be a significant aspect of revealing the meaning and intent of the movement process and also tempo can impact the functional efficiency of action and can also be significant in the expressive aspect of movement.  Remember, movement is the process of change and how long and how fast or slow is the process clearly is a part of what is discernable in movement.

Time as an aspect of Space Harmony

Space Harmony, which is a foundational concept of LBMS views the Space Harmony of human movement as part of the larger Space Harmony of the patterns of nature, of the world or even of the universe . This after all was why Laban used the Platonic Solids as the models to map the movement of the human Kinesphere.  In looking to the Space Harmony patterns of space and time of the natural world, we can gain insight about our own movement.  For example, in looking at the pattern of a river’s meandering pathway we see both the ongoing change in the present through the tempo of the flow of the river’s water, but we see as well, in the shape of the banks of the river,  the change that occurs at a much slower pace and over a much longer time period that creates the river’s patterns of its lateral meanders. So perhaps this needs to be viewed as Spacetime Harmony!

The duration and tempo of time’s passing  are revealed through the structures of the world including the structures of our bodies. We see and experience growth, development, healing and aging through the process and tempos of the time of our bodies.  We see the passage of time over the structures we humans create – – our cities,  our architecture.  We see the passage of time too in the layers of rocks and this geologic time has a different tempo than the tempo of our daily experience.

Our bodies too express multiple rhythms and many tempos of time – building muscle, healing the tissues of a wound, the flow of blood or lymph or cerebral spinal fluid – all of these have their own tempos. The Rhythms and tempo of breathing and of digestion are each a unique part of what we experience in our body time . Likewise, the tempos of moving from the bones vs moving from a sense of the body’s fluids can change the tempo and experience of time for the mover.

Perhaps the time has come (pun intended)  we should  consider in the ongoing evolution of LBMS continues, to adding  the Component of Time to the taxonomy allowing for such concepts as:

  • sequencing
  • duration (relative)
  • rhythm and emphasis
  • cycles

So, BESS could be BESST perhaps!

Undeniably time contributes to patterns that we observe and experience and making the aspect of Time more explicit could further assist with the process of analysis and synthesis.

I believe also that time (not Time Effort) is often important when we identify the Dynamosphere of the environment. In this regard time can be a significant and linking the micro of the present to a more macro perspective connecting to the past. For example, when we see in the natural environment geologic forms expressed in the layers of rock formations,  part of our appreciation is connected to space/time harmony as we connect to the dynamics of change in the environment through the passage of time . And our Dynamospheric experience is linked to our perspective of time that extends beyond our personal present time.   Likewise, when we enter a space such as the Parthenon, we connect energetically to the passage of time) that is not limited to the time of present day of our own Kinesphere but in the sense of time/space of past movers i.e. Dynamospheric space/time.

I believe that Space Harmony illuminates the Part/Whole duality and connection through time as a crucial part of the process of change through time.

K.Studd 2021