By Leonore Russell
One of the first questions parents ask when they come to learn about a Waldorf school for their child is about the movement art taught in most Waldorf schools: eurythmy. What is it? Why does my child have to do this? After many years of working as a eurythmy teacher and in the administration of a Waldorf schools, I find myself still answering these questions. Yet the answers grow and develop as the years pass and new knowledge both in science and education are bring light to bear on the questions.
First of all, what is eurythmy? It is a movement art, living in the family of movement arts such as mime and ballet yet standing midway between these two arts. It shares meaning and gesture with mime, yet it is married to sound rather than objects or recognizable actions, and shares the moving to music and words with dance, but seeks to follow the invisible movement within sound rather than move to it or juxtapose itself against it. It is the expression of the human soul through gesture and movement.
A student once asked: “who thought this up?” after seeing the same gestures in the great art of the past. He had stumbled on the truth of the expressive gestures that artists such as Giotto and Michelangelo had mastered in their paintings. In the early part of the twentieth century Rudolf Steiner pointed us towards these gestures to learn their meaning and to find a new art of human movement. He worked with first a young girl and then an ever growing group of interested artists to develop this new art of movement. Continue reading
Eurythmy developed from its beginnings in 1912 with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. It occupies a unique position amongst the arts of movement, as it grows out of the lawfulness of speech and music. The profession of eurythmy teacher is practiced by men as well as women. Continue reading
By Robin W. M. Mitchell
At times, the question arises, “What is eurythmy, and why is it so important in Waldorf education?” In an attempt to answer these questions, I started by looking at a number of definitions of education. I have synthesized them into the following synopsis:
“Education brings about a state of knowledge and of aesthetic moral development, resulting from a learning process which develops skills needed by a person wishing to take charge of his or her own life.”
Encompassed in this definition, we can find attributes that go much further than a summation of known facts, held in memory. Knowledge may be in the foreground – but it is a form of knowledge that finds its validity in relationship to living one’s life and making one’s own decisions. Skills are also mentioned. Skills require practice so that they may be at the service of the individual who has taken the trouble to acquire them. Aesthetic development unfolds the ability to recognize beauty when one meets it – and the lack of beauty as well. On a different level, where knowledge presupposes the ability to look at facts as objective realities, aesthetic development presupposes that one has an inner life with a capacity for discernment. In the sphere of moral consciousness, we can see a need for ones objective qualities to meet ones subjective qualities in harmony. To sum it all up, we might say that education has to do with a journey into the knowledge of oneself in relationship to everything around us in the world.
How can Waldorf Education Meet the Needs of Children?
Five lectures given at the West Coast Teachers Conference in Fair Oaks, California, February 15-19, 1998 by Michaela Glöchler, M. D.
Rudolf Steiner College Press
9200 Fair Oaks Boulevard
Fair Oaks, Ca. 95628
101 pages Paperback
Copyright 2000 Reprint 2003
Permission to reprint kindly granted by Dr. Glocker. This excerpt is taken from pages 80-82.
Of course you could experience during the eurythmy performance and also through your own eurythmy study how important and differentiated and delicate the study of eurythmy is. You can experience, for example, that if a teacher does something like this, that this is not a eurythmy E. It is just a nice movement, isn’t it? But a eurythmy A, a eurythmy E, is something very different. It is an etheric stream. And if you start to practice often and learn from Rudolf Steiner that our heart is the source of the etheric forces and that all the vowels have their origin in the heart region, you will know that you need first to pull back all your movement capacity, to bring it into silence, to bring it into pure intention, and feel that this impulse is something which has no weight but has intensity. The etheric quality has no physical weight. It flows purely in time and not in space. Our physical body with its substance and weight reveals itself in three-dimensional space. Our etheric body lives only in time. It’s a system of circulations, of rhythms, of all those life cycles. It is a system of developmental laws living in time. It’s the basis for the streaming changing of evolution, and this together with the physical gives what we see as the physical-etheric constitution of plants, animals, and human beings. When you study eurythmy, you have to enter into this realm of the etheric and create even physical movements out of this etheric source. You have to study for years to come into this attitude and to be able to bring movements out of the heaviness of the physical body and into this etheric lightness. And one can’t do this in eurythmy without training. I did not mean that the class teacher should replace the eurythmy teacher at school. It can’t be. Eurythmy is something very special.
By Robin Mitchell
Lifetime learning requires challenges that move us out of our comfort zones, no matter how old we are. As we grow, we stretch our present limits to embrace new abilities, gaining confidence as we develop. This is as true for older people as it is for the young. When we are at school, we know that we are constantly learning new things and discovering new skills that add to the quality of our lives, thus adding to the sum of experience that establishes our relationship to the world around us – as well as to each other.
We look into the world and discover ourselves…
We look into ourselves and discover the world.
This is also true for older people who have been in the school of life for so much longer. Only, the challenges are rather different from those that face the young. Younger people tend to look forwards with an optimism that can transform ideas into ideals – and ideals into deeds that can change the course of life. Older people have already been in that situation – therefore they can look back and evaluate the ideals that have filled their lives, the decisions made and acted upon and the outcomes of those choices. Younger people are often unsure – or even unaware – of their abilities. Older people can look back upon a lifetime during which they exercised their abilities – or did not. The question arises: To whom does a young person turn when asking questions about life – its challenges, its tasks, its requirements and its values?
Artistic and Therapeutic Eurythmy speak for themselves. What about Educational Eurythmy?
By Mary Watson
The most important educational task of eurythmy is to aid the incarnating processes of the growing child, in order that these processes may take place in the most harmonious way possible; a very lofty ideal, but nevertheless one toward which every eurythmist strives.
Plunge into the world
These processes change and assume different forms in the various stages of childhood. The very young child lives very much in his surroundings; he is ‘at one’ with the world, and it is easy for him to transform himself, through the imaginative pictures of stories, into animals, plants, beings. In these early years he must plunge into and experience to the full the world around him. He must unite himself with every tree, bird and stone, immerse himself in the rhythms of the created world. At this time the eurythmy teacher can lead the class through a Paradise, where they can learn to know the created and the creator.
Between the seventh and ninth year, the child will then begin to stand back and observe the world. He will begin to separate himself from it in his experience and even begin to be critical of things around him. The closer his unity with the world before this time, the more his powers of reverence and wonder will be enhanced during these years of separation from the whole. During this time the spiral form becomes very important in the eurythmy lesson, where the child spirals into his own inner world, and out once again to the outer world. Repetition of this form with
various verses strengthens the individuality in its first awakening.
By Robin W. M. Mitchell
At times, the question arises, “What is eurythmy, and why is it so important in Waldorf education?” In an attempt to answer these questions, I started by looking at a number of definitions of education. I have synthesized them into the following synopsis: “Education brings about a state of knowledge and of aesthetic moral development, resulting from a learning process which develops skills needed by a person wishing to take charge of his or her own life.” Continue reading