Week 24: Effort


Effort, or what Laban sometimes described as dynamics, is a system for understanding the more subtle characteristics about the way a movement is done with respect to inner intention. The difference between punching someone in anger and reaching for a glass is slight in terms of body organization – both rely on extension of the arm. The attention to the strength of the movement, the control of the movement and the timing of the movement are very different.


Effort has four subcategories (Effort factors), each of which has two opposite polarities

Effort Factor Effort element (Fighting polarity) Effort element (Indulging polarity)
Space Direct Indirect (Flexible)
Weight Strong Light
Time Sudden (quick) Sustained
Flow Bound Free

Laban named the combination of the first three categories (Space, Weight, and Time) the Effort Actions, or Action Drive. The eight combinations are descriptively named Float, Punch (Thrust), Glide, Slash, Dab, Wring, Flick, and Press.

Flow, on the other hand, is responsible for the continuousness or ongoingness of motions. Without any Flow Effort, movement must be contained in a single initiation and action, which is why there are specific names for the Flow-less Action configurations of Effort. In general it is very difficult to remove Flow from much movement, and so a full analysis of Effort will typically need to go beyond the Effort Actions.

Effort or the Qualities of Movement – how the body moves (Many of the qualities of movement require the application of mechanical principles.)

  • Time or speed – This quality deals with the speed and duration of the movement, moving to a constant rhythm or accelerating or decelerating.
  • Force – Force is the effort or tension generated in movement. Learning how to generate, absorb, and direct force is an important outcome.
  • Space – Direct or Indirect movement.
  • Flow – This factor establishes how movements are purposely sequenced to create continuity of movement, usually in terms of interrupted (bound) or sustained (free) flow. Interrupted flow stops at the end of a movement or part of a movement. Sustained flow involves smoothly linking different movements or parts of movements.

Week 24 Effort; Fast v Slow Lesson

This lesson focuses on the aspect of time as it relates to effort.

Week 24 Effort; Balloon Dance

This lesson focuses on the effort skills of Thrust and Float:

Direct/Sudden/Strong – movement in own space

indirect/sustained/light – Traveling through room space