What is Eurythmy?

There was movement in the ‘youwithme’ room,

As the word had got around –

The movements that we’re here to do

Are the movements of the sounds.

 

What is Eurythmy? Where/who does it come from? Why do we do it in school?

Rudolf Steiner gave indications, when asked, regarding the renewal of many aspects of life – resulting in the development of Steiner/Waldorf schools, Biodynamic Agriculture, Anthroposophical Medicine, and a whole new way of practicing the fine and performing arts of painting, sculpture, drama and dance. In this way, in 1912 in Switzerland, the art of Eurythmy began – as a new way of moving in relation to the sounds and rhythms of language (and later also, music). It was soon seen to hold great potential for artistic, pedagogical, and therapeutic practice, from which the three inter-related areas of Eurythmy developed.

This moving in relation to the sounds of speech and music, and all importantly in school – learning to do so with one another harmoniously – creates a wonderfully healthy experience of being brought into deeper relationship with one’s self, one another, and the world. It is a practice of the “middle path” – by which the often disparate aspects of our selves, and one another, learn to integrate and move harmoniously together. That is, we bring our thinking, feeling, and willing together – to think and feel what we do, do what we think, and feel it, and so on. From the recent Kolisko conference I attended on the theme of ‘Trauma in Childhood’ (bringing together doctors and teachers working out of Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Science), one resounding indication for developing resilience and healing trauma was this strengthening of personal integration and social connection. This is one of the deepest intentions within a healthy school Eurythmy program – the development of individual presence, personal and social integration.

The different languages and instruments all have their own gesture and reveal something unique and significant about the culture and country (in the local, geographic sense) they come from. I’ve lived a few places around the world, and am at once in awe of all that is common between us, and inspired and interested by the unique expressions the universal takes in different geographic contexts. Eurythmy offer us, by being an embodied art of movement in relation to the sound-artefacts of culture in language and music – a path of profound, sense-able land and star connection, a culture-creating activity. It develops a deep listening, revealing the inner aspects of whatever it is we are working with. I am always on the lookout for more local stories, insights and experiences that could come into beautiful, meaningful movement through Eurythmy.

Here’s a run through of what a class generally involves (with subject matter and manner of presentation obviously differing vastly for the different classes):

  • Begins by entering the room with music, to which we move inspired by its beat, rhythm and melody, and may also be picking up and twirling copper rods, or concentrating on stepping the bass and clapping the upper voice.
  • A musical and speech opening piece, often carried and developed over the whole term or year. The musician plays, or the teacher speaks, and the students practice the movements.
  • A concentration/dexterity warm-up.
  • Moving in archetypal ‘spatial form’ together, such as the Curve of Cassini (progression of division found in nature), rotating geometrical patterns, or weaving patterns.
  • The main work of the season; could be a story brought into movement with musical interludes and activities for the younger children, or a poem or musical piece with more complex movement forms in the space, and developed gestures, working towards a performance with the older children.
  • The playing of a game, skipping a big geometric social form, or sometimes just listening to the mesmerising music, comes at the end of the lesson to leave the students feeling well in themselves and with one another, ready to take on their next concentrated learning tasks.
  • Closing musical and speech piece, and a time of silent rest, concludes the lesson.

As students come to the door to say goodbye, we’re again guided by the beautiful music of world greats played by musicians (whom we’re so grateful for!) John Tungyep or Charles Affleck.

This term is a “Eurythmy extravaganza” time– with classes 6, 7 and 8 holding evening performances and some of the younger classes sharing their work with each other and parents. On the last day of term classes 4-8 will perform their main pieces for the whole school in a festival celebrating the surge of life forces as we approach the September equinox.

Warmly looking forwards to sharing our work with you,

Nicole Peterson

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