Rudolf Laban's Graphic Philosophy : Movement, Rhythm, Diagramming

Crespi, Paola. 2016. Rudolf Laban's Graphic Philosophy : Movement, Rhythm, Diagramming. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis explores Rudolf Laban’s practice-inspired theory through an understanding of
temporality and spatiality in terms of the productive tension between movement and
form. This repositioning of Laban’s work allows us to appreciate his importance for
contemporary media philosophy and performance studies. The key claim is that Laban’s
contribution highlights a co-dependency between, on the one hand, rhythm, intended as
formed time and, on the other hand, the diagram, intended as dynamic space. It is argued
that the dynamism of the visual diagram originates from the intensity of rhythm before
this settles down as meter and form. Rhythm unfolds as an oscillation between flow and
meter made visible in Laban’s freehand drawings. The thesis considers these drawings as
diagrams, in that they are graphic inscriptions partaking of the dynamism of rhythm and
of the act of drawing.

Rhythm emerges from the process of research as the leading concept of Laban’s work
from the early 1920s throughout his life. Evidence to support this claim is uncovered
largely in unpublished material both visual and textual, in German and in English. This
was found in the course of research in the largest and virtually overlooked collection of
Laban’s work in England (National Resource Centre for Dance, University of Surrey)
representing Laban’s latest production (1938-1958). The material highlights the way in
which Laban was thinking of both rhythm and of his drawings in terms of the relation of
movement to structure. The thesis’s understanding of this relation in Laban’s work is
afforded by a ‘diagrammatic methodology’, that is, a reflective re-organisation of the
archival material deriving from the theories of the diagram of C.S. Peirce, Gilles
Deleuze and Gilles Chatelet explored in the thesis.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

Permanent embargo applies as due to be published as a monograph.


Laban, Rhythm, Diagram, Dance, Performance, Gilles Deleuze

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 March 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Apr 2016 15:05

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:38


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