Laban Movement Analysis and Performance-Activism

Years 9/10

Suggested duration: Three lessons


In this task, students will do some preparatory research on Rudolf Von Laban, the dance theorist and choreographer. They will devise a dance piece that depicts a contemporary issue which they feel strongly about. Students will use the information on pp. 141 to 156, as a stimulus to evoke ideas and emotions. They will be provided with the basic essential information about Laban Movement Analysis and will develop their performance pieces in small groups.

Cultural resistance is arguably one of the most important forms of survival. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have fought to retain our languages and ways of life, and our many cultures are proudly seen as the longest ongoing living cultures in the world. Our warriors include not only those who served with honour and pride in Australia’s military, but our ancestral warriors who fought against colonial invasion and occupation over many years. Today our modern-day warriors continue the fight to maintain our culture, battle against racism and work in defence of our sovereignty and rights to self-determination (The Little Red Yellow Black Book p. 141).

Learning outcomes

  • Students will devise and perform a dance piece using the Laban Movement Analysis.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to manipulate elements of dance and choreographic devices to communicate their convictions about an issue that effects their lives.
General capabilities Cross-curriculum priorities
Critical and creative thinking  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
Intercultural understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures organising ideas: 7, 8
Ethical understanding  

Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Years 9 and 10 Dance

  • Manipulate combinations of the elements of dance and choreographic devices to communicate their choreographic intent (ACADAM021).
  • Practise and refine technical skills to develop proficiency in genre- and style-specific techniques (ACADAM022).
  • Evaluate their own choreography and performance, and that of others to inform and refine future work (ACADAR025).

Provisions for differentiation

Learning support

  • Students with learning difficulties will be able to participate in the group activities provided they are given adequate and clear explanations of their specific roles.


Students could add a canon to the piece. In dance, as in music, a canon describes the repetition of a particular ‘phrase’. It is performed by all dancers in an ensemble in quick sequence.


  • Teacher resource sheet (PDF)
  • The Little Red Yellow Black Book - an introduction to Indigenous Australia (4th edition), ‘Activism and leadership’, Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, Canberra, 2018

For teachers

Ensure that the guidance notes included in The Little Red Yellow Black Book teacher resource have been considered.


  • Sovereignty
  • Self determination

Preparation: Ideally, in a preparatory lesson or for homework, teachers could ask students to conduct some background research on Rudolf Von Laban and his work, and prepare some information (notes and/or images) to share with the class.

Step 1.

Have the class form a circle. Briefly introduce Rudolf Laban, drawing on the students’ knowledge from their preparatory work. If there was no such work done prior to this lesson, supplement the students’ knowledge by reading the summary on the Teacher resource sheet (PDF).

Step 2.

Have students read the material in The Little Red Yellow Black Book, pp 141 to 156. Discuss the information and the emotions evoked from the readings. Explain to students that they will be devising a dance piece using Laban that explores an issue that they feel strongly about. Discuss issues of today that effect the students’ lives and brainstorm topics they may use for their dance design and performance, e.g. climate change.

Step 3.

Organise students into small groups of four or five.

Step 4.

Assign ten minutes for the group to think about how they might use Laban’s ‘space’ element to demonstrate the key points of their chosen topic.

Step 5.

Students will now work on creating an individual sequence. Students can remain in their groups, but they will work individually on this task. Have each student follow these instructions:

  • Devise a very short movement sequence using only your right hand and employing everyday gestures, one for each of the Eight Efforts.
  • Repeat the task using a different part of the body (e.g. your left leg). This time, keep the basis of the movements the same, but make them more abstract.
  • After a few minutes of stretching to warm up, repeat Step B, this time using your whole body.
  • Polish the sequence and make sure that it runs for 5-10 seconds. The Eight Efforts need to flow together naturally in the sequence, but they don’t need to appear in a particular order.

Step 6.

The students should now combine their sequences in order to create a group piece. They should experiment with ways to combine and extend their individual sequences into a piece (with or without musical accompaniment) that runs for 1-2 minutes in total (or longer if a group is capable).

Step 7.

The groups rehearse, then perform their completed pieces, then debrief as a class.

Assessment ideas

  • Assess as per other dance projects
  • Use the Laban inclusions for assessment
Last reviewed: 8 Nov 2019