Laban, Rudolf (1879–1958) By Franco, Susanne
Rudolf Laban was one of the leaders of Ausdruckstanz (“expressionist dance”) in Germany. He worked as a dancer, choreographer, writer, educator, movement analyst, ballet master, director of cultural institutions, and industrial consultant. During the years of World War I, he worked intensively with other dancers and artists in Switzerland on Monte Verità in Ascona and in Zurich. After the war, he returned to Germany and soon founded a network of schools and affiliated dance companies. He promoted movement choirs as a form of mass dance, and developed a system of movement notation. After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, he continued his leadership role until 1937. The following year he immigrated to Great Britain, where he spent the rest of his life, abandoning his artistic career and focussing on his theoretical research and on the educational implications of his ideas. His work became the basis for British Modern Educational Dance. His most important legacy, however, lies in his conceptual thinking on dance, including his system of writing movement by means of signs and symbols originally called Schrifttanz (“dance writing”) and later Kinetography or Labanotation.