C r y s t a l l o g r a p h i e s

 a series of five photomontages produced by movement practitioner Nicolas Salazar-Sutil and video artist Sebastian Melo drawing on the concept of crystallography (crystal writing) and Laban's theory of crystalline movement (crystalline dance)

1. Tetrahedral form
Basic form of plastic human movement
2. Cubic form
Representation of diagonal orientations (mobility)
3. Octahedral form
Representation of dimensional orientations (stability)
4. Dodecahedral form
Representation of the three cardinal planes (vertical, horizontal, sagittal)
5. Icosahedral form
Representation of most voluminous form of crystalline human movement

The analytical conceptualisation and visualisation of kinespheric space is based on Laban's understanding of space through the language of solid geometry. More specifically, Laban makes use of the five regular convex polyhedra or Platonic solids[1] in order to better understand space in terms of regular, convex polyhedral arrangements or 'scaffoldings'. Laban thus conceptualises and visualises the space within one’s own reach as congruent, regular and symmetrical, which enables the trained body to find harmonic relations, and thus move in a meaningful and aesthetically-pleasing way. The fact that there are only five objects that obey such elegant geometric rule allows Laban to allocate each one of these objects a specific function in the description of harmonic relations, as part of Laban theory of crystalline movement. Laban uses the notion of crystals, as opposed to regular solids, because crystals grow in regular polygonal patterns, and this enables him to connect his theory of human movement with growth patterns in natural organisms.

Laban chooses the tetrahedron to illustrate the basic tension or opposition arising from the body's symmetrical composition in a four-directional pull (upward-downward, left-right). More simply, the tetrahedral form of the kinesphere represents the image of a walking body, with both arms raised. This, according to Laban, is the simplest plastic form having four corners. From this form, all other crystalline forms of human movement derive. The next Platonic solid in line (we are making our way from the least to the most volumetric) is the six-faced hexadron or cube, which Laban uses to describe the three diagonal orientations of movement in three-dimensional space. Simply put, the model represents a human figure exploring diagonals in space, like the line drawn by a bodily line from a right leg stretched backward, to a left upstretched arm. 

 The octahedral form of the kinesphere illustrates a similar idea, only in terms of dimensional orientations in three axes (upward-downward, right-left, forward-backward), and which Laban used in order to develop dimensional scales and the so-called defense scale.[2] The next two solids are so closely related, in geometrical terms at least, that they cannot be treated separately in Laban's thesis. But because the dodecahedron has less volume than the icosahedron, and because it encourages smaller and inward movements that relate to stability, Laban all but does away with this particular object. The icosahedron, on the other hand, is elevated by Laban as the ideal Platonic solid wherein to train and gain knowledge of harmonic relations in space, insofar as it contains all other solids within it. According to Laban, the icosahedron provides the most complete space model for the practice and training of space harmonic relations, not least because the icosahedron offers the appropriate volume and the appropriate angles to match the possibilities of movement of a human body within regular polyhedral space. Finally, Laban found that certain proportions within the icosahedron follow the laws of the Golden ratio, which further reinforced the idea that this solid provided ideal proportional relations in space, within which the body could move in harmonic and well-structured ways.

[1] The five Platonic solids are the tetrahedron (four faces), cube (six faces), octahedron (eight faces), dodecahedron (twelve faces), and icosahedron (twenty faces), every one of which is made up of the same regular two dimensional shape (a triangle, square or pentagon), which when connected in a three dimensional configuration, make up a regular three dimensional solid.
[2] A film footage contained at the Digital Dance Archives entitled Video 1, canister 2: Art of Movement Studio, Addlestone, Surrey, shows Laban constructing a paper model of the octahedron, and then doing a practical demonstration of the dimensional scale. The use of film, as I will explain later on in this paper, is a crucial tool for the graphic analysis of harmonic movement, both in Labanalysis and movement analyses post-Laban. See Digital Dance Archives