The Dynamic Body in Space: Developing Rudolf Laban's Ideas for the 21st Century - Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance,  London 2008


Abstract: „Work and Rhythm”


This paper presents the results of research into Rudolf von Laban’s theoretical and practical dealing with the subject of work The starting point for this discussion is Laban’s hand written manuscript “Was ist Arbeit?”. The manuscript outlines Laban’s critique of industrial machinery that alienates human labour and hence the human being itself.Laban’s critical notion of industrial machinery is in accordance with the arguments of the economist Karl Bücher. Bücher published in 1896 Arbeit und Rhythmus, an exhaustive study of the role of rhythm as a major structural element of human work. His main thesis is that human beings are being regulated by a natural rhythm. This rhythm is grounded in the physiology of the human motor which effectively controls energy needs. Bücher’s book received special attention among cultural critics and dancers alike as he states that rhythmical working motions can be related to dance

movements. Laban put several of Bücher’s ideas into practice. This practical realisation can be seen in Laban’s choreography of the pageant of Crafts and Guilds in Vienna 1929, in his work at Monte Verità and in his concept of the Labangarten, Hombrechtikon. Bücher’s influence becomes especially apparent in Laban’s motion studies for industrial enterprises in England and in his development of his Effort theory.