Although he is known as a dance theorist, Rudolf Laban's approach is often used by theatre choreographers and directors. Even without training his ideas can be used to beneficially develop character movement for young children through to adults.
Jean Newlove was Laban's assistant after he came to England as a refugee in 1938. She was movement teacher at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop for 15 years. This accessible book, co-written with actor, musician and teacher John Dalby provides all you need to try Laban's ideas in the studio.
The book presents a simplified version of Laban's system for analysing the way a human being moves. The language and approach is clearly explained with numerous helpful illustrations by Dalby. Those wishing to find the juicy bits may like to jump straight to the section on the Eight Basic Efforts. Each effort, such as thrusting or floating is define by a combination of "motion factors" - space, time and weight. Once these are understood it is very easy to explore different combinations ( for example, direct, sustained and light give us gliding; and flexible, sudden and strong give us slashing).
Once experienced, Laban's approach makes perfect sense as a down to earth way of developing an expressive body. The eight efforts can help the performer to discover characters through movement and to challenge physical habits, opening up the body to new possibilities.
The book is definitely worth considering for use with young or inexperienced performers as the approach is designed to help anybody develop their physicality through their own personal interpretation.