What is Laban/Bartenieff?

What is Laban Movement Analysis (LMA)?  – by Sandra K Lauffenburger

Laban Movement Analysis is a system and language for observing, describing, notating, and understanding all forms of movement.  It was developed by Austrian Rudolf Laban in the 1920’s through 1950’s.  A Laban Movement Analyst uses this language to describe and interpret human movement.  The analysis can focus on a simple gesture (such as the movement of the hand during a conversation) to the whole body involvement of a performer or athlete.

LMA is a tool that can be used by anyone wishing to enhance, refine, and clarify movement.  The system is composed of four major components, Body, Effort, Space, and Shape.  These basic components can be identified and examined in isolation or in relationship to each other.

Because movement reflects our innermost feelings and ways of being in the world, LMA can also be used to understand and explore psychological aspects of self.

What are Bartenieff Fundamentals™ (BF)?

Bartenieff Fundamentals™ consist of a set of concepts, principles, and exercises developed by a student and colleague of Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff, in the 1950’s through 1970’s.  She applied Laban’s movement ideas to the physical and kinesiological functioning of the human body.  This body of work has been successfully used to enhance the physical functioning of professional athletes, dancers, actors, performers, as well as with people in all aspects of everyday life.  BF also provides a theoretical base for rehabilitation and Movement Therapy.

Key movement concepts are taught through experiential as well as theoretical learning.  Some of these concepts are: dynamic alignment, breath support, core support, graduated joint rotation, initiation and sequencing of movement, spatial intent of one’s actions, centre of gravity/weight, centre of lightness, weight transference, effort intent, and level changing.

Bartenieff Fundamentals™ also includes study of developmental movement patterns which support the above adult movement concepts.

Gail Gustafson offers sessions at Unfettered Movement in Colorado

Emotional Vitality

My clients in perimenopause talk of two primary issues: vitality is weakened & stress has increased.  What can they do?

Most of us agree that chronic stress is not conducive to long term health.  It can cause increased heart rate & blood pressure, digestive issues, headaches, adrenal fatigue, depression and anxiety.  There is a lot of information out there on how to reduce stress.

What about vitality?  A 2007 study found out that emotional vitality reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18056547  Emotional Vitality was defined as: a sense of energy, a sense of positive well being, a connection to life & the ability to be emotionally balanced in life situations.  There is NOT a lot of information on how to cultivate & increase vitality.

Emotional Vitality cannot be easily measured.  It is an experience, a view and a way of living.  Due to this, it is hard to sell.  It is not happiness, even though some cola companies would like us to believe that.  It is not about getting new apps, even though most tech corporations would like us to think that.  It is not conventional success, even though most of us crave that.  Emotional Vitality is much more than any of these.  It is something that we actually need, to support our hearts and to embody long term health.

Most perimenopause clients have a vague idea that to reduce stress & increase vitality they need to get stronger .  They see the problem as something wrong with their body (a separate entity from their mind).  They want me to fix their body, so they can get on with life.  The fundamental problem is that even if I could ‘fix’ their body it would have no long term effect, unless it was balanced with an equal ‘fix’ of emotion and mind.  Emotional Vitality is completely dependent on disengaging from the stressful effort of separating our mind, emotions and body.

What I see as a doorway to disengaging from this outdated & ill-fated notion of mind-body separation, is the cultivation of  movement awareness & mindfulness.  This doorway unfailingly leadsto vitality, buoyancy, resiliency.

Jan had six automobile accidents over a five year period of time.  After seeking the help of many professionals, she was referred to me after her 7th accident.  Jan was defeated, discouraged and in chronic pain.  She passively dragged her body into the room as if her body was an old moldy sleeping bag.  She slumped in the chair & spoke in a gasping monotone voice.  She was completely unaware of her body, emotional tone & dark view.  Jan had no sense of her feet, her pelvis or even her hands as they limply attempted to gesture.  She was as far from emotional vitality as one could imagine.

In an intake, I gather body-mind & movement history, while observing the emotional-movement patterns of my clients’ responses.  I often hear: “I don’t know how to answer that”.  Gently I encouraged Jan to reflect quietly on each question, while I taught her how to be aware of her breathe, showed her how to listen to her view internally and helped her sense her feet & hands.  I do not encourage or deny pain, instead I use movement to help each client discover something within the pain itself.  This initial mindfulness & awareness of movement is a step toward to Emotional Vitality.

As Jan reflected, she began to breathe into her pelvis, find rhythm in her hands & discovered how to allow air to move for speech.   After a few minutes, she became lighter and freer in her mind-body.  Jan even remarked that she was “having fun”,  that she had ‘delightful curiosity’ like a toddler being introduced to a new skill.  We barely completed the intake when the session was completed.  “Why has no one asked me these questions or taught me this before? That was the most interesting and uplifting hour I have ever spent.  I feel alive.  Why did no one do this in the past?”  

This was the birth of Emotional Vitality for Jan – one hour, simple questions, deep reflection, while being taught how to include and be present in her body.  Over the next month, she continued to develop skill in movement awareness & body-mindfulness.  The way she walked, worked, drove and moved in all of her life became buoyant.  Through this her pain decreased, and she became physically and mentally more resilient.  All of this confused her pain specialist and primary care physician, as we were not doing something clearly measurable.  Vitality cannot be measured, yet it can be cultivated.

What can you do to increase emotional vitality?

1.  Learn how and take the time daily to listen from within

2.  Learn how to become aware of your breathe & the quality of your voice

3.  Find out what you enjoy and engage it in some manner daily

4.  Do not push

5.  Reconnect to movement without form – like a child, move for the love of moving

6.  Every day, take joy in something you experience

7.  Do not isolate – find people who can guide, laugh and “walk beside you”

8.  Study how mind and body are one & practice a movement form for harmony and balance

©Copyright June 20, 2013  Gail Gustafson  http://www.unfetteredmovement.org




TTouch® Sessions

Gail teaches you to develop a deeper rapport with your animal companions through increased awareness and clear communication.  You will be guided in hands-on methods, sensory motor exercises, observation skills & positive training to reach your goal.   In each session you and your companion animal will learn mindful, non-habitual movement that works with the nervous system to facilitate change, while increasing well-being.

TTouch® Method is a positive approach to training that builds confidence and self-control.  The method reduces stress, tension and fear, so new behaviors can be learned with ease.  Developed by Linda Tellington-Jones, TTouch®provides an integrated approach to influencing behavioral and physical issues through movement and hands-on technique.  The TTouch®   method is used by animal owners, veterinarians, shelter staff and zookeepers in over 30 countries.

Gail Gustafson, TTouch®Practitioner and Certified Laban Movement Analyst has been guiding clients in private practice, workshops and retreats since 1989.  Her work has been presented at rescue organizations, veterinary practices and mind-body conferences throughout the US & Canada.

Sessions are one hour in length
3 session packages are available

To Schedule an appointment: 
[email protected]


For more on TTouch® www.ttouch.com

Gail Gustafson – Private Sessions










Whether you are looking for rehabilitation after injury, increase in athletic ability or creating greater movement ease in life, Gail will create a session especially for your needs.  Each session will actively use: awareness and movement, your own body weight or dynamic spring resistance.   Private sessions help build strength, resiliency, energy, ease in motion, vitality, spatial awareness and athletic excellence.  Please Contact Gail to schedule.

Unfettered Movement for articles & classes
Meditation – Gail integrates movement, awareness & meditation in courses & retreats