Karen Studd

Function/Expression in Laban Movement Analysis (LMA)

Good evening, community -

here is a bit for you about the movement theme of Function/Expression, which is part of your every day movement, whether you know it or not!

Functional movement relates to the mechanics of movement:  what body part(s) move in what action.  An example of a basic functional movement would be - rotate your head from the left to the right.  

Expressive Movement is about what body part is moving in what action, and also how and why you are moving.   Expression is the “feel," the zest, the juice, the meaning within the movement!

By consciously exploring your relationship with Function and with Expression you expand your capacity for balance and wholeness.  This change is not only in your ability to functionally perform the actions that you take, but also in what and how you communicate to yourself and the world around you with your actions. 

The movement forms of Express Yourself and of Movement Fundamentals that I offer are two separate workshop opportunities that were created as companions in the exploration of Function/Expression.  The intention of each is, in part, to explore one "end" of this particular Theme of Duality.  By exploring each "half" of the duality, a mover has the opportunity to then re-integrate these dualities and to move with more overall resiliency.

Take a moment to consider the functional action of rotating your head.  Now ask your self:  how and why did I rotate my head from left to right?  Was I moving to visually or energetically take in the horizon or did I move to watch something as it flew right in front of my face? Did I move my head in a gliding continuous motion or did I jerk with small pulses from place to place along the route?  Was my movement Free and fluid or more Bound and controlled?  As I performed this action, was my focus within myself or out into my environment?  Did I notice my breath as I moved?  Was my movement an invitation to something or someone, or was this the movement of retreating away from something offensive?  Why and How did I do that action? 

Even if your answer is that you moved because you were told to, know that within your movement you did something that qualitatively made your movement unique to you. 

In their 2013 Everybody Is a Body, an exploratory primer on movement through the lens of LMA, Studd & Cox write "In order for change to be successful, there must be a change in how you perceive yourself and how you choose to express yourself in the world.  Unless one is able to make a fundamental shift in the expressive part of oneself, old patterns will reassert themselves.  Successful change includes both the purely functional as well as the expressive parts of self."

Deepening our relationship with the interrelated duality of Function/Expression gives us a way to more conscious ownership of the unique bodies that we each live within!