The Harmonic Structure of Movement, Music and Dance According to Rudolf Laban: An Examination of His Unpublished Writings and Drawings

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This study of Rudolf Laban, pre-eminent dance theorist of the twentieth century, provides the first comprehensive analysis of his theoretical explorations. Based upon an examination of unpublished writings and drawings from the final two decades of Laban’s career, the work traces Laban’s systematic integration of various strands of research and delineates how he used “harmony” as an analogic metaphor to illuminate the deep structure of dance and movement. This book contains thirteen color photographs.


“This book reinvigorates Laban scholarship, showing how movement and mind, body and soul, emotion and concept, are one, entwined, inseparable. This deeply difficult task, given the binary nature of language, is successfully achieved. It bears similarity to dance making of the present time. Just as current choreographers re-visit, for example, the themes of Swan Lake, and we see them anew, re-worked, so Carol-Lynne Moore challenges tendencies to value Laban's notation system and taxonomic analysis solely as technical tools, and focuses instead on his notions of the coherence of movement, its elements integrated in 'meaningful human acts'. Its implications and applications will support the growth of the discipline for years to come. This articulation and further development of Laban's 'beautiful' but 'analogic' theory of movement harmony makes a unique, original, and impressive contribution to scholarship.” – Prof. Janet Lansdale, University of Surrey

“Carol-Lynne Moore has brilliantly synthesized a wealth of disparate information into a unified whole. The whole is Rudolf Laban’s theory of movement harmony. Not an easy task as she clearly identifies and illuminates historical, educational, aesthetic and familial influences from the life of Rudolf Laban, 1879-1958. Laban was an artist the first third of his life, a dancer and teacher the second third of his life, and researcher, amateur mathematician, and theoretician at the end of his life. Each of Laban’s ‘thirds’ are explored by Moore.” – Prof. Susan D. Imus, Columbia College Chicago

“. . . elevates the scholarly study of movement and provides insightful foundations for future research. The author challenges readers to advance the scholarly study of movement posing questions for study and establishing conceptual ground on which to build further explorations and applications. This work is a critical and significant contribution to the future of movement study.” – Prof. Madeleine Scott, Ohio University, Athens

"This excellent book by Dr. Carol-Lynne Moore is an intriguing account of her doctoral and post-doctoral research from 1994-2002 into the ideational bases of Rudolf Laban's thoughts about movement and dance, "aiming to locate him more precisely in streams of 20th Century thought and culture. . . . What Dr. Moore has to say after examination of Laban's drawings is to me the most fascinating part of the book, which will be an excellent addition to any dance library." - Movement, Dance and Drama: Quarterly Magazine of the Laban Guild

"[The author] invites the reader to journey further in examining, recording, and synthesizing Laban's last 20 years. She encourages additional inquiry and research, testing Laban's theories of movement theory and harmonic movement structure in today's contemporary times. Moore follows in Laban's tradition that both encourages and challenges the reader to continue to explore, awaken insight, understand, and apply the Laban work to one's moving life, work, art, and natural harmony." -- Prof. Nancy Beardall, Lesley University

Table of Contents

Original Artworks by Rudolf Laban
1. Laban’s Journey: Art, Dance, and Beyond
2. The Artist/Researcher at Work
3. Visual Representation of Movement: Tradition and Innovation
4. Space: The Outer Domain of Human Movement
5. Effort: The Inner Domain of Human Movement
6. On Harmony
7. Tone, Scale, Interval, and Transposition
8. Modulation and Harmonic Phrasing
9. The Harmonic Unity of Form and Energy

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