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ERIC Number: EJ809821
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1740-8989
Space, Time, Weight, and Flow: Suggestions for Enhancing Assessment of Creative Movement
Petersen, David
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, v13 n2 p191-198 Apr 2008
Background: Performance evaluation in the context of creative dance or expressive movement is often a challenging prospect for educators. Nonetheless, the process is a necessary one, not least of all because of the potential as a stimulus to growth. Ideally, assessment becomes a part of the feedback process, assisting teachers and students to clarify goals and to identify interpretive differences. Finding user-friendly ways of characterizing the body in motion is thus of potential interest in a variety of classroom situations. Purpose: To introduce a terminological system designed to focus observations of expressive movement, with the intent of highlighting stylistic differences and subconscious limitations. The concepts behind the system are essentially choreographic, but have been operationally defined through reference to standard kinematic principles (position, speed, acceleration, and jerk). Participants and setting: An interdisciplinary program for the investigation of the creative process, associated with the Theatre Studies department at the University of Malta. Intervention: A search of the theatre literature for tools to assist in characterizing creative movement led to the writings of the choreographer Rudolf Laban. In particular, his system of "Effort Actions" was chosen as a suitable point of departure, due to its focus on expressive range, and its congruence with elements of contemporary kinematics. The terminology was partially redefined, and then applied to the creation of movement charts, to assist with performance evaluation. Research design: The development process consisted of a review of the theatre literature from the perspective of performance assessment; the identification of Laban's Effort Actions as potentially relevant for evaluative purposes; the redefinition of terms to suit more objective aspects of movement analysis; the creation of observational charts based on the resulting terminology; application of the system to subjective and objective data analysis; and finally, reflection on the effectiveness of the results. Data collection: Charts similar to those provided in this paper were used to assist with subjective evaluations of individual performances in a classroom/theatre laboratory setting. More rigorous versions were also applied to the analysis of motion capture data, recorded to investigate the effects of actor training on nonverbal personality. (Details are beyond the scope of this terminological overview.) Data analysis: As the focus was on development of evaluative terminology, analysis consisted of the identification of correlates between elements of the choreographic literature and objective principles of contemporary kinematics. Specifically, Laban's category of Space Effort was analyzed from the perspective of trajectory profiles; Time Effort from the perspective of speed profiles; Weight Effort from acceleration profiles; and Flow Effort from charts of the derivative of acceleration (a measure of smoothness referred to as "jerk"). Operational definitions were then re-examined for congruence with a sample field of application (sessions of theatre laboratory), resulting in the charts provided. Findings: Based on the experience at the University of Malta, the terminological system described in this paper was deemed a successful choice for the assessment of creative movement. Specifically, the associated movement charts were found to assist the educator in focusing on fundamental aspects of expressive range in presentation. They were also sufficiently flexible to accommodate additional material for treating group interaction and other topics not addressed by Laban's original scheme. Conclusions: The choreographic terms described here serve as effective organizing principles for structured observation of creative movement, particularly when conceptualized as the subjective correlates of basic kinematic principles. In particular, the polar nature of the vocabulary lends itself to the creation of "dynamic images"--essentially snapshots of individual or group performance. Related movement charts are a powerful tool for quick appraisal of expressive tendencies, and can be used both to highlight stylistic differences, and to underscore disparities between presentation and performance objectives. The resulting awareness of habitual dynamics can in turn contribute to the selection of appropriate remedial exercises. (Contains 4 tables and 2 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Malta