Space Harmony

So, what is Space Harmony?

Let’s begin by identifying the parts

Space – Space can most simply be described as the environment, the totality of what surrounds us – the medium we exist within.

Harmony – in understanding harmony looking at synonyms can enlighten us. Some examples of these include: balance, coherence, concinnity, consonance, orchestration, proportion, symmetry, symphony, unity.

Space Harmony – thus, I would define Space Harmony as patterns expressing concinnity of the universe. These patterns explicate part/whole relationships which support growth, life, continuity, development, life’s progression. These patterns are frequently fractal in nature and often self-replicating or cyclic but also allow for change (evolution).  The image of the spiraled nautilus shell is frequently used as an example of Space Harmony and Sacred Geometry is rife with Space Harmony patterns and images.

A picture containing invertebrate, mollusk, indoor, chambered nautilus

Description automatically generated

Patterns of Space Harmony also express dualistic patterns of universal balance in change and constant, symmetry/asymmetry, building and destroying, development and decay. All of which are expressions of order/chaos and the patterns of life and death – whether it be of an individual organism or of a star.

Much of Laban’s work is based in the Space Harmony expressed through the patterns of human movement.  His writings, both the theoretical, more technical text,  as well as the more philosophical words confirm this. And Laban, as something of a crystallographer, used the models of the spatially harmonic Platonic Solids in his mapping the patterns of human movement of the mover’s personal space (or what we define as the Kinesphere). Therefore, Space Harmony is a foundational idea of the theory, practice and one could even say, philosophy of the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System (LBMS) as based in Laban’s work.

In LBMS we can identify the essential Self/Other Theme with two foundational components of movement: Body (Self) and Space (Other). Juxtaposed with this Body/Space framing of Self/Other, is the Inner/Outer Theme, as we identify Space as existing on a continuum from inner to outer. We experience that we are containers of Space – perhaps most easily sensed in how our inner volume expands and condenses as we breathe (but also experienced in other inner body spaces). WholeMovement identifies/names the space contained within the Body as the Innersphere.  In addition to experiencing the space within, we can also experience that we are contained by space i.e., that we exist within Space. In the system we identify the containers of this space outside, and which surrounds us, as our personal space of the Kinesphere, the General Space of our localized environment and continuing outward to the totality of the cosmic/universal space. I frequently use a picture in a class “handout” that illustrates this idea of the containers of space, in which the image of a series of Russian Nesting dolls represent the spatial continuum. It starts with the smallest doll representing the Innersphere, then the next in size representing the Kinesphere , and then the next representing the General Space and finally the largest doll representing the Universal Space.

I also use a handout that illustrates a modified model of the BESS frame that shows the Components in a slightly different relationship. Rather than a simple horizontal progression of 4 letters (B – E – S – S) I use a vertical progression that starts at at the top with Body/Space and under this is the Shape Component and under this is the Effort Component. Remember, systems and models, as well as all bodies of knowledge, are ways we use to conceptualize parts in relationship.  In other words, how we organize our perceptions and frame the ideas that arise from the part/whole relationships of our lived experience. Remember too, that we humans are both pattern discerners as well as pattern makers in the experience and creation of our reality.

The Theme of Inner Outer Inner/Outer can also be linked to the ways in which we engage with the phenomenon of human movement in the theory and practice of LBMS. We do this primarily in two contexts: 1) from what we observe (outside ourselves) and 2) what we experience (part of our inner self).  We should, of course, acknowledge that these 2 perspectives overlap in human experience but are also differentiated. In other words, LBMS attempts to understand human movement from the perspective of the mover and also from the perspective of the observer.

We use these perspectives in describing, interpretating and finding the meaning in our patterns of action, reaction and interaction. In other words, the analysis and synthesis (part/whole relationship) in the practice of movement analysis.  

The System (LBMS) itself continues to evolve due to practitioners’ applications, other bodies of knowledge and other systems for identifying and codifying human movement which overlap with LBMS.

NB – this post is meant as a macro perspective and does not in any way explicate the highly developed practice of Space Harmony as a movement technique that explores the directions, pathways, forms, body support and dynamospheric relationships of the Spatial Scale sequences developed and codified by Laban. 

K. Studd 2021