Thursday, 14 February 2008

Sweet dreams are made of these...

Eurythmy is an essential element of the child's education in a Steiner school. They experience it from Kindergarten (age 4/5) and it goes all the way up to Class 12 (16/17 yrs). It is an art form in itself and many Steiner communities would have their own emsemble of dancers/prationers. But it is more than dancing. Here are a few links to some definitions and other eurythmy sites.

Eurythmy Spring Valley
FAQs on eurythmy

I summarise here from the cirriculum:

Eurythmy aims to harmonise the child's soul-spiritual nature with the bodily organisation by making the body a more flexible and responsive instrument to the soul's intentions.

Practising the elements of eurythmical movement helps the children become more graceful in their movements, more cordinated, more alert and more at ease with themselves. Eurythmy also reveals blockages and hinderances within the movement organisation. What the children reveal in their movements can, to the practised eye of the teacher contribute to an overall picture of their potneital and what can be done to release it.

Through learning the gestural vocabulary of sounds and musical tones in eurythmy, the children form an inner connection to the qualities inherent in the elements of language and music, a process which both engages the whole human being whilst supporting the development of linguistic and musical literacy.

The artistic work done through the cheography of poetry, prose text, narrative and instrumental music deepen the children's aesthetic appreciation of oiterature and music experentially, a method which complements other approaches in the cirriculum.

Working with geometrical forms and their transitions in three dimensional space help the children have a more comprehensive experience of the principles of geometrical form and cultivate an inner sense of orientation.

When working in groups the children have to concentrate on their own movement while developing the social capacity to sense the movements of the group as a whole. When both are successful, they enjoy their participation in thei mutual flow of movement. Being able to move in a harmonious and coordinated way together with others requires not only peripheral perception but also a willingness to allow the others to have their own space. The mutuality of social processes is a quality which eurythmy cultivates at many levels.

Experiencing eurythmy performances by other pupils or adult professional groups can work at a non-intellectual level that only an integrated artistic medoum can engage. It is not read but experienced holistically, given openness on the part of the viewer. Children of all ages can enter this realm of expeirence through good eurythmy performances, which reach beyond the stage and meet an uninhibited response in the audience through a rich tapestry of sense experiences. They can receive vivid living pictures which the soul can digest. Like all good art, eurythmy provides subtle yet powerful nourishment for the soul life.

Eurythmy is taught by a qualified practitioner. In our school, by Marie-Louise.

Class One

Spatial forms and arm movements are developed out of and in accordance with the children's imaginative experience. The cirlce of children is experienced as the 'sun' or the 'castleg garden'; the straight line is the 'golden bridge' or the 'magic ladder', and so on. the archetypal form of the circle is the starting point for eurythmy lessons and all movements start from the circle and return to it. The content of the lesson is woven into a narrative whole, the different elements flowing one into the other. In an ideal situation, the lessons flow as one integrated movement, articulated by a strong overall picture.


A group of giggling and excited seven and six year olds lines up at the entrance to the hall 10 to 9. I have seen many classes do this before, but for the first time, i understand what they'll be doing next. Eurythmy. Many, many, many years ago i saw a Beethoven symphony performed by the Dornach emsemble. It was the first time i saw music danced - where the performers had so tenderly and skillfully woven the ego and the experience of the music together. It was a strong yet gauzy fabrication and even today, i still see the violins dancing gracefully amongst the cellos and double bass. Today's little exercise was like the seedling of that massive proud oak i saw in what seemed a lifetime ago.

The children circled round and Marie-Louise helped them recall and enact simple verses which grounded them to the earth, that lifted them into the air, that sent their little souls to the stars, that returned them to a pond.

I see the sun and the sun sees me
I see the moon and the moon sees me
I see my star and my star sees me
I see my friends and my friends see me

The affirmation of being here, of being held. Not in competition, but in companionship. All this to live piano music. It has been such a long time since i heard children's music played live and remembered the difference between live and recorded music - the same difference between a real rose and a plastic one.

For nearly half an hour they wove figures of eight, spirals, circles, pretended to be bees, rats, birds and gnomes. For half an hour we were transported with them to that tender Realm of Childhood. Where dancing, playing, and music - and beauty - innate and gentle, happily ruled.

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