What is Laban Movement Analysis?

By: Dzhingarov

Laban Movement Analysis or LMA is language and method for visualizing, documenting, interpreting, and describing the whole spectrum of human movements. It was derived from a study conducted by Rudolf Laban, which was later further extended and developed by Warren Lamb, Lisa Ullmann, and Irmgard Bartenieff. Many modern physiotherapy practices today have their origins from LMA methods.

Laban Movement Analysis

Sometimes LMA is also called Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis. It is a multidisciplinary methodology that incorporates contributions from various fields including psychology, kinesiology, and anatomy. LMA is used by athletes, musicians, actors, occupational therapists, and dancers. It is also used in leadership development, business consulting, peace studies, and health and wellness. Laban Movement Analysis is one of the most extensively utilized tools today.

LMA is organized into four broad categories. These are:


This category provides general descriptions about how the body is organized, which body parts are linked, which areas are connected and influenced by other areas, and which parts of the body are moving.

This category was further developed by Certified Movement Analysts (CMAs). Their results continue to be applied to areas such as rehabilitation, fitness, dance, and somatic therapies. Some examples of the subcategories of the body are:

  • The connection of different body parts to one another;
  • How movement is initiated from a specific body;
  • Movement sequences between body parts;
  • Patterns of connectivity and body organization.

Bartenieff, who trained with Laban and later moved to the United States, was the founding member of the American Dance Therapy Association.


Sometimes called dynamics, it is a method of understanding the fine characteristics of how a movement occur with respect to intention. For example, whether reaching for a glass or punching someone in the face, both movements require the extension of an arm and differ slightly in body organization. However, when one pays attention to timing, movement control, and movement strength, both movements are quite different.

Related Article:  Misonceptions You Should Know About The Alexander Technique


In this category, the way in which the body experiences change while performing a movement is analyzed. Within shape, there are several sub-categories. These are:

  • Shape Forms- provides descriptions about the body’s static shape;
  • Modes-of-Shape Change- describes how the body is interacting with the environment and its relationship;
  • Shape Qualities- provides a description in how the body changes when going towards a point in the room;
  • Shape Flow Support- how the torso changes its shape in accordance with the rest of the body’s movements.


This category deals with spatial pathways and patterns, how motion connects with the environment, platonic solids, human body structure, and spatial tension. According to Laban, there are ways of moving and organizing in space so that it is harmonious, much like music. Due to the theoretical and abstract depth of this category, it is regarded as greater than the rest of categories.

For more information about Laban Movement Analysis, please refer to the Journal of Laban Movement Studies, or visit the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies at http://www.limsonline.org/.