Laban Movement Types

Brand and I do a lot of description in our RPG’s – not surprising as we both are writers and we play emotion centric games in which we often want to have things illustrated, but not verbalized in play. We use description cues in an NPC’s movement to give them characterization and depth. This is especially true of the two games we’ve been playing recently. One is a pseudo historical swashbuckling bodice-ripper done in a quasi-novella style and the other is our home brew So You Think You Can Dance game, in which- as you can imagine – character movement is particularly important thing to describe.

One of the tools we use to get at characterization through movement is a methodology of analysis I learned back in my theatre days so long, long ago. A dance dude by the name of Rudolf von Laban provided a system of language to describe and understand movement by breaking it down into a set of Basic Effort Actions made up of component binaries based on weight, space and time. According to him, movement was some degree of heavy or light, direct or flexible, sudden or sustained. In all combinations, this produces eight basic effort actions descriptively called Float, Thrust, Glide, Slash, Dab, Wring, Flick, and Press.

These terms are used to describe individual actions in Laban Movement Analysis, but they have been adopted by acting methodology to shorthand emotion through movement in theatre. Brand and I use them in RPG’s to shorthand the emotional state of a character, but we also use the ideas in them to shorthand their personalities as well. I thought one or two of you might find the model useful in your own games, so here’s a list:

Press (direct, sustained, heavy) is my favorite effort action, and I always start here when describing them. It’s heavy, so the movement has weight and bearing. It’s direct so it goes at a goal, and it’s sustained, so it is not as much quick or sharp as grinding ever forward. Press is a presence-y commanding push, a slow, relentless dominance of action, a grinding down under forward progress. Press is a bulldozer, press is a marching army, press is a dominant seduction. In our games, press people are great people – An emperor, a general, a calm, intense, ambitious person who is unafraid of grinding anything in his path to dust to get at what he wants.

Thrust (direct, sudden, heavy) is an easy one to describe. It has at it’s goal with speed, efficiency, control and deadly intent. It’s the final blow of a driving blade. A bullet to the brain. A knockout punch. In our games. Thrust characters are intense people. When they are good guys they’re often proud and capable and exceedingly restrained.

Slash (flexible, sudden, heavy) is a neighbour of Thrust. It’s heavy and fast, but where Thrust is controlled, Slash is wild. Slash is a back alley knife fight. Slash is a swashbuckling, bottle smashing, drunken brawl. In our games, Slashers are arrogant, audacious, sexy rakes with big reputations.

Wring (flexible, sustained, heavy) is the last of the heavy actions. It’s sustained like press, but it’s not direct. It’s flexible and twisting, like wringing a wet towel out. Wring is an inward churning individual. Wring could be a twisted malcontent. Wring is an strategic herder. In our games, wrings are often scheming villains, twisted and evil.

Glide (direct, sustained, light) is light, graceful, and directed. Gliding is a ballroom dancer. Gliding is an ice skater. Gliding is a courtesan on a gondola. Gliders in our games are socially adept, dangerous people who get you to do things you didn’t intend to do and yet somehow have you respecting them for it.

Float (flexible, sustained, light) is like Gliding without direction, Wring without Weight. Float is lazy cumulus clouds. Float is puppy love. Float is collateral damage waiting to happen. Floaters in our games are benevolent friends, hapless tarot fools skipping off cliffs, and sometimes the maddening few that can not be encumbered by you.

Flick (flexible, sudden, light) is like Float, but without the ease of sustained action, or Slash without the threat. Flick is lick of fire. Flick is toss of hair. Flick is an always distraction. Flickers in our games are most often maddening, mercurial creatures who must be cajoled, convinced or connived into commitment, or loyal, but somewhat inconsequential allies.

Dab (direct, sudden, light) is like Thrust without deadly intent. Dab is a bon mot. Dab is cutting remark. Dab is a Lady Macbeth. Dabbers in our games are devastating social creatures. They’re political powerhouses, and deft manipulators.

Let me know if you find this useful, or if you’re using anything like this in your own play or discussion around play. If you’re one of the folks (Jim, Emily, Jason, I’m looking at you) that has a late interest in theatre or improv that grew out of RPG’s I’d recommend you spend some time physically playing with the eight Basic Effort Actions. It’s a great movement exercise, and an enlightening emotional technique.

30 thoughts on “Laban Movement Types”

  1. Mo, you and Brand continue to prove yourselves to be two of the most interesting gamers out there. Thanks for sharing this – it is awesome.

  2. I’ve done a little bit of Laban study (one of the guys in our improv troupe did a ton of movement and space work as part of his BFA) but for some reason I’d never connected it to roleplaying. This is especially weird considering how physical a roleplayer I am, even in non-LARPs. And thinking about recent characters, this makes complete sense: Xander is a Glider, Taran is a Wringer…

    A potentially useful adjunct to this is to think about what will cause a character to shift from their dominant style. I played a character once who was predominantly a Flicker, but when his sister was threatened he would shift to Pressing.

    Great stuff!

    1. Totally, or conversely, to find easy ways to illustrate the change in a character over play as permanent changes come into effect. Gyel – an Exalted character I used to play transitioned from a wild Slash to a controlled Press over time, as she became more of a dedicated zealot.

      While I make transitions like that in my PCs without thinking of the actually Effort Action, it can be done more deliberately. When I GM and have much more on the go and less time in the head of each NPC, LMA can be a tool to add foreshadowing, colour, variety and/or protagonizing weight to the PC’s actions. If I turn a nemesis from a very vertical Thrust to a crouching Wring after the PC has put the beats to his area of influence, it could make for a more diverse, affectable, human NPC, make the PC more affecting & influential, as well as even foreshadow that the nemesis has taken the fight underground and is scheming revenge.

  3. So, reading and playing Unknown Armies for the first time, and I see this, and now i want to mash it up with Jaak Panksepp’s four primary emotions (Fear, Rage, Panic, Seeking) and call it a character sheet.

  4. blessings on you for a clearly elucidated summary of one of my favourite things to talk to my actors about. I’m currently directing “Cabaret” and will be using your summary to get the leads to use more appropriate physical response to express their intentions.

    1. Hi Marion

      It’s been a while since I have been in the theatre world and I miss it – so I am glad to know that I’ve helped out. Where is your production going on?



  5. Your description of the ‘press’ – ‘calm, intense, ambitious person’ has completely encapsulated a character I am playing at the moment and has provided me with a wonderfully visceral image I can run with. Thank you so much, greatly appreciated 🙂

  6. 我来自农村,去年本科毕业。生下来由于自己面部带有一些残疾,自卑感比较强烈。我现在做汽车大修配件销售。我也觉得自己脑子不好使,虽然喜欢看书,但是学以致用的能力不强。  我做销售之前,先做了一年技术。现在做的产品是镗缸磨轴(就是汽车大修)。我现在对产品,还算了解。我现在跑业务,去汽修场进门就问候一句”XX经理你好,我是XX汽配城的,卖定位活塞,定位活塞环,增压器的”。然后经理就说一句,好名片放在这里有需要在联系。本来我想好的很多话,但又吞在肚子里面去了(我们的产品是申请国家专利的产品,质量比别人要好些,价格和别人普通的差不多。)。  遇到这种拒绝,我总是感觉很尴尬。我该怎么办了?跑业务资料>>>>

  7. 说实在话,这本书我一直舍不得拿出来分享的,有人评价说”如果不把这本书读上七遍,任何人都不能够去做销售,他让我销售业绩提高了100倍 “,它到底是一本什么样的书呢?…….这样跟你说吧!你会希望你是全世界唯一一个读到它的人,现在我无私的把它分享出来,而且是免费的…….跑业务资料>>>>全国老板手机号码 QQ:1768881880网址:

  8. 跑业务资料>>>>全国老板手机号码 QQ:1768881880网址:http://www.2017 8888.com大多数厂家是希望能持续发展,做大做强,成为中国第一,然后就是世界第一,成为行业里的一哥。当然了,某种意义上来说,所谓行业一哥,也是在成就厂家老板自己的皇帝梦。这厂家要持续发展,这自然也得要求旗下的经销商能跟得上,具体的说来,这就需要经销商能及时的更新思路,加大投入,配合厂家的市场活动,最好的结果嘛自然是合作双赢,大家一起获得持续发展。希望是希望,现实中情况却是很多经销商不肯按照厂家所设定的路子来,要么舍不得投入,不增加员工,不拓展渠道和区域,不增加终端铺市覆盖,或者干脆就是不提升销

  9. 其实我们谈客户和我们追求一个心仪的小姑娘、和谈恋爱有很多的相似之处,对方都是之前我们陌生的对象(当然有熟人介绍更好,更容易被接受,因而成功率更高),我们都必须要经历被认识—被对方从抗拒到重新认识—被对方不再那么反感—被信任—被接受一起合作的这样一个过程。今天要分享的”三大秘籍”,分别解决的问题是:秘籍一:轻松搭讪,快速占领客户(或美女)的心智阶梯!秘籍二:通过”三求”,让客户(或美女)对咱们产生深深的依赖!秘籍三:欲擒故纵,让客户主动抢着下单,让美女主动投怀送抱!并让他们飘飘欲仙,欲罢不能!那么问题来了,这”三大绝技”到底是如何一步一步练成的呢?它的实操之道又是怎样的呢?你想知

  10. 同じように感じた人は多くいたようで、ネット上は「見直した」「優秀な仕事ぶり」「神リポ」「中居がいなかったらスルーされていた事実」などと絶賛する声で盛り上がった。ベンチ横のカメラ席から気付いたことをリポートするスタイルが、前回のWBCあたりから一部の野球ファンに「グラウンドレベル中居」という愛称で親しまれているようで、「グラウンドレベル中居やるな」「ウザくなかったグラウンドレベル中居」など、ほぼネタ化して盛大な受け止められようだ。昨年、彼の好きな巨人原監督が内野5人シフトで失敗したことを引き合いに「トラウマだから気付いたのかも」と指摘するものも多かった。
    グッチ ネックレス スーパーコピー

  11. 当店は業界最強の海外一番人気のルイヴィトン スーパーコピー 代引き販売老舗です!高品質のルイヴィトンコピー代引きや情報が満載しています。私達は貴方の為に同等な品質のルイヴィトン代引きと価格安い商品を提供します.ご購入する度、ご安心とご満足の届けることを旨にしております

  12. 人々が常に感じイギリス男の人がやっと紳士らしい、実は言えない。カルティエ時計コピー男も紳士らしい、代表のは1種の教養で、このような教養に国境はない。选択項は紳士特質の時計との組み合わせが重要、私たちをよく見てこのと紳士腕時計の徳制ゲーラ苏蒂Observer 1911。

  13. この新しいlum-tec腕時計のスタイル(「スーパーダイバー」または1000メートルダイバーで暫定的に知られている)は、本当に素晴らしいです。それはクラシックとモダンなダイバーウォッチの必需品とデザインの両方の本質を捕えることなく、見かけ倒し。pvd症例は黒または色のついた顔で崇高に見えます、そして、顔には、素子の寸法は、ちょうど右に見えます。スーパーコピー時計どういう意味ですか?例えば、手のすべての右の長時間の指標は、まさに正常なサイズです、そして、冠を簡単な操作のために大きいです、手袋でさえ。これらの基本的なものは、あまりにしばしば、だいなしにしたことは驚くほどになります。lum-tec見ていない過去の重要な詳細が知られています、そして、私はそれを評価します。より多くのイメージのために、下記のギャラリーをチェックアウトしてください。

  14. ブライトリングエアロマリンコピー時計の高級ゴールデンルミナスメンズメカニカルポケットウォッチ 0.138255627 ブライトリングエアロマリン人気ランキングボーイズ、ブライトリングエアロマリン時計、ブライトリングエアロマリンブログは独自の合金で、特有の光沢と高貴な雰囲気を醸している。静寂と活力、冷静さと大胆さの融合は圧倒的な魅力を発揮し . 0.331622225 ブライトリングエアロマリンスーパーコピー時計のアイテムの重量145グラム . スーパーコピー4,提携工場から直仕入れ、すべてのコストを最低限に抑え

  15. ロレックススーパーコピー時計販はROLEXコピー時計通販専門店です . 0.030248331 ロレックスコピー時計の時計が動作して残っていると仮定すると、どのくらいの頻度では、カレンダーを調整する必要がありますか? . 多くのロレックス時計のモデルがありました。そして2015年に、ロレックスは、私が同社初の鳴るスーパーコピー時計だったと思います(ハンズオンここで)印象的なタイム、とフォローアップ。 デイデイトコピー時計 :

  16. What’s up,I check your blogs named “Laban Movement Types | Sin Aesthetics” daily.Your story-telling style is witty, keep up the good work! And you can look our website about proxy list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *