Last week I was working in Istanbul as an Artist in Residence, and ran two workshops with teachers on how to use Drama in the classroom to teach English, but also to develop skills and create performance. With the students, I had worked on Laban technique and devising skills based on Viewpoints and devising companies such as Frantic Assembly and Teatro dos Menestreis (a physical theatre company I used to be part of in Sao Paulo, Brazil). Below are some of the ideas that I used with the teachers, and the plan that I had for another workshop with teachers, based on Laban. I hope that you find the ideas useful.

Ensemble 2

Laban Technique

Session 1

Images – walk around the room and think of one word that is important to you and one word that represents who you are, in other people’s eyes:

  1. Freeze in an image to show the word that is important to you
  2. Freese in an image to show what others think of you
  3. Alternate between the two, but try to find a different way to show the word each time you freeze
  4. In groups of 3-5 decide on one word that is important to you all and create one image with you all included that shows this image
  5. As a group look at each image and say what you see communicated in the image – focus on expressions, contact, mood, proximity etc

Poem + Images leading to performance – in a group read the poem twice and then discuss the images you see from the poem. As a group identify key words or phrases that you can transfer into images:

  1. Decide on the 3 words and how they are communicated as a group
  2. Put in sequence in 3 locations on the stage
  3. Share with the rest of the class and get feedback about what was communicated
  4. Add movement
  5. Add words
  6. Add more images to create a complete story

Dialogue and sub-text – Discuss what the villagers were doing when Icarus fell to his death. In pairs create a 4 line dialogue about Icarus falling into the sea:

  1. Hear the conversations
  2. Then create 5 positions as a pair
  3. Put the dialogue and images together – do not intend to show a story
  4. Audience watches and says what the relationship is, what is happening, where they are, who they are and how they feel about Icarus.
  5. Pairs now work on their character movement and add 2 more lines to their conversation to try to include context, role and relationship.
  6. Share all and put together in one sequence for performance about the life of the villagers.

Session 2

This session will teach how to use Physical Theatre techniques in the classroom, and then see how these can be applied as a way to start and develop story telling.

  • Working in our own space – our Kinesphere

‘Kinesphere is the personal space surrounding each one of us and extends as far as we can reach in any direction. Outside our kinsphere is general space; whenever we move, we take our kinesphere with us and displace the general space. If we turn around, our kinesphere turns with us while the general space remains the same.’ (Newlove & Dalby, p17)

  • Use of space: Movement through using gathering and scattering

Exercises from p114 on Space

  1. a) run a race
  2. b) indirectly in flexible manner – crowded street
  3. c) fear of the surrounding space – gather standing and sitting
  4. a) friend off a train in a crowded station – spread arms when see friend, run and be open to gather
  5. b) saunter in a souk and surreptitiously look at articles. If the shopkeeper approaches then put it down and scuttle off
  6. c) at a party and painfully shy and invisible – other bump into you until they discover you are a famous writer/director
  • Trace forms and pathways

‘A pathway is a route of a single movement traced by the body or part of it(such as an arm or leg) from one point to another. A trace form is the shape a movement takes in the air. For instance, if you draw a circle in the air, that is a continuous trace form; if you draw a square, that is a trace form consisting of four pathways.’ (Newlove & Dalby, p17)

  • Creating a story through movement

Using the ideas of space, pathways and trace forms, gathering and scattering . Adding dialogue, sound and stillness.

In the past I/I am/I will be…

  • Working on levels (pages 56-61)

There are 3 levels in Laban movement – high, medium and deep. Laban worked on these 3 levels so that dancers could explore the potential of movement and see things from different perspectives.


The book referred to above is: ‘Laban for all’ Jean Newlove & John Dalby, Nick Hern Books. Routledge, New York (2004)