Volume 14, 2023 – Issue 2: Touch in Training

Exploring Rudolf Laban’s flow effort: new parameters of touch

This article explores the practice of Rudolf Laban’s Flow Effort as a form of touch which is perceived in the energetic, subtle body of the mover. Central to the discussion is a series of reflections on studio practices undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic, in Laban for Actors classes, at Rose Bruford College in 2020. In these sessions students and teachers returned to studios wearing masks and maintained a two-meter distance: through studio practice we considered energetic touch without physical touch. In this article, I explore how Flow Effort can be perceived as vibration in the subtle somatic body of the mover, and how the interplay of intensive-extensive vibrational rhythms in body movement may constitute a kind of energetic touch. This field of ‘energetic touch’ radiates from the mover and is emphatically relational reflecting Laban’s perception of touch as not simply proximal contact between people or things but as deeply regenerative and socially significant.