The Importance of Physical Training like Laban for Actors

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The Importance of Physical Training for Actors/Actresses

The advantages actors and actresses can gain from physical training, with emphasis on the Laban technique


Acting is a multifaceted craft that demands more than just spoken words. To truly embody a character, an actor must tap into their physicality, presence, and movement. Physical training methods, such as those developed by Rudolf Laban, play a crucial role in enhancing an actor’s expressiveness and overall performance. This article delves into the significance of physical training like Laban for actors.

Developing Body Awareness:

Physical training, particularly Laban, allows actors to become more attuned to their bodies. By understanding the dynamics of movement, space, and energy, actors can expand their range of expression, thus deepening their characters’ authenticity. Laban’s techniques help actors gain control over their body, develop coordination, and improve overall body awareness.

Enhancing Presence and Spatial Awareness:

Actors who undergo Laban training are trained to use their physical presence effectively on stage or screen. Exercises focused on body-space relationships are at the core of the Laban technique, which can help actors confidently occupy and interact with their surroundings. This heightened spatial awareness enables performers to adapt and respond instinctively to the performance space, other actors, and props, adding layers of depth to their performances.

Expressing Emotions Physically:

Before verbalizing emotions, people often display physical symptoms.. Actors trained in Laban techniques can tap into this relationship between emotions and physicality, allowing for more nuanced and believable performances. Through Laban’s efforts to explore and understand different effort qualities such as lightness, weight, and suddenness, actors can express the full range of emotions effectively.

Developing Character Physicality:

Every character comes with their unique physicality, which encapsulates how they move, gesture, and hold themselves. Laban training provides actors with a framework to create distinctive physicality for each character, enabling them to step into the character’s shoes more authentically. Adding movement qualities, rhythm, and dynamics that align with their character’s personality can help actors to create a more nuanced and believable portrayal.

Strengthening Ensemble Work:

Physical training methods like Laban facilitate better ensemble work within acting ensembles. By encouraging actors to develop a mutual understanding of physicality, space, and rhythm, Laban techniques help create a cohesive and synchronized ensemble performance. Actors who are well-versed in Laban’s concepts can communicate with one another more effectively, fostering a shared performance language that enhances the overall quality of the production.

Boosting Confidence and Flexibility:

Physical training builds an actor’s confidence in their body, allowing them to explore and experiment freely. By developing flexibility, strength, and control over their movements, actors gain the discipline required to adapt to various roles, environments, and challenges. This increases their adaptability, versatility, and artistic range, making them more marketable and successful in their acting careers.


Physical training methods like Laban can significantly contribute to an actor’s growth and overall performance. By honing body awareness, improving spatial dynamism, expressing emotions physically, and developing character physicality, actors can enhance their expressiveness and authenticity on stage or screen. Physical training in an ensemble setting fosters better communication and collaboration, promoting a seamless and impactful ensemble performance. Embracing physical training as an integral part of an actor’s journey is essential to unlock their full potential and unleash their creative powers.

Rudolf von Laban Wikipedia 

Further developments see also Yat Malmgren 

Practical application is the key to mastering the Laban or Yat Malmgren Technique. It’s recommended to take a course with an expert before studying books on the technique.

General or Laban courses for dancers may not be beneficial for actors as they may gain irrelevant knowledge.

Workshop: A  Laban Workshop with Mike Alfreds

Video Interviews: Mike Alfreds in conversation with Peter Thomson:

  1. Laban Efforts
  2. 2. Michelle Williams on working/training with Mike Alfreds and the Laban Technique

“MICHELLE WILLIAMS is an American stage and film actor, whose film credits include Brokeback Mountain, My Week with Marilyn, Fosse/Verdon, Manchester by the Sea. Her relationship began with MIKE ALFREDS in 2015. She had been looking for an acting mentor, and asked Mark Rylance for suggestions. Mark recommended Mike. Here she talks fascinatingly about her work with Mike: its challenges, its rewards, and how she has used what he has taught her in the most recent Steven Spielberg film she has just finished. She also talks about how she has taken these techniques and insights into her ‘real’ life.”

Expert on Yat Malmgren Technqiue James KempIntroduction Courses

Workshop/Regular Training in Berlin: Animal Work/Laban Technique/Little known Eastern Techniques

The 4 movement factors of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) are Weight, Space, Time, and Flow. The interconnection of each factor influences the overall quality and characteristics of movement.

  1. Weight: Weight refers to the level of effort or resistance given to movement. It can be light or heavy, and it affects the dynamic of movement. It can manifest weight in the muscles and the effort put into a movement. It influences the overall quality of the movement, such as its strength, tension, or relaxation.
  2. Space: Space refers to the area covered by movement and the relationships between the body and the surrounding space. It includes the size, shape, direction, focus, and level of expansion or contraction of movement in space. You can use space in various ways: direct it towards a particular point, expand or contract it, or define it by boundaries. Space influences the overall spatial qualities, dynamics, and patterns of movement.
  3. Time: Time refers to the duration, rhythm, tempo, and acceleration or deceleration of movement. It can be fast or slow, sudden or sustained, regular or irregular. Time influences the overall temporal qualities, pacing, and rhythm of movement.
  4. Flow: Flow refers to the overall quality or energy behind movement. It includes the smoothness or fragmentation, connectedness or disconnectedness, and the fluidity or abruptness of movement. Flow can be continuous or interrupted, even or erratic. It influences the overall quality of movement in terms of its smoothness, transitions, and connectivity.

These four movement factors are interconnected as they constantly interact and influence one another in movement. For example, the choice of weight affects the spatial qualities and flow of movement. The speed or tempo of movement affects both time and flow. The direction and focus of movement affect both space and flow. The relationship between these factors brings about a wide range of possible movement qualities and expressions. Understanding their interactions helps to analyze and interpret movement more comprehensively using LMA.