What is the aim of this art of movement?
The aim is to speak and sing through movements and gestures that reveal to the eye what language and music bring to the ear. The movements of the eurythmist reveal inner soul experiences and relate to the srrounding space. They can vary from simple hand gestures to whole body movements. The elegance and capacity for revealing the innermost experiences of the human larynx is extended to become whole-body movement. For this reason eurythmy is an original artistic movement discipline rather than a dance form.
“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” - Paul Klee
Eurythmy answers the riddle: what does language and music actually look like? What we could previously only hear, we can now see in eurythmy. What is only heard is partly hidden so gestures have always been an important component of expression and communication. Language and music are made visible in eurythmy: as in the ear, so also in the eye. When eurythmy is at its best, we may see far more than we hear. At last we can see what the words look like, and watch an octave blossom through the medium of gesture and movement. we can see the difference between great and grate, between a harmonic chord and a dissonance. Words and music are not interpreted, the implicit inner qualities are displayed in their authentic movement, feeling and character.
The discipline of visible speech is quite different from the skills of visible singing. In visible speech the eurythmist uses gestures inherent in the vowels and consonants, moving spatial forms according to the content of the spoken poem or prose. By incorporating gestures that express soul moods, planetary and zodiac influences, the eurythmist also reveals what lives silently within the audible.
In visible singing, the eurythmist makes use of gestures for tones and intervals, making visible the pitch of the melody. The beat and rhythm can be shown as well as the harmony. The gestures are from the music as written in the score and shown in the character of the instrument playing. When the intervals between the notes of music are made visible, we can see what is inaudible in the music. Eurythmy combines with 'live' human speech and instrumental music. Electronic sources, amplification or enhancements are never used. There is no life in electronic sound sources and it is the life that a eurythmist attempts to show. For this reason there are no CDs of eurythmy music.
Compositions of pure eurythmy are sometimes performed that are unaccompanied by language or music. These are often profoundly meaningful for audiences and in my view are an essential contribution to the repertoire. Such compositions have been included from the early days, as preludes and codas surrounding spoken word choreography.
There are a number of ways in which eurythmy is used beyond the stage. Eurythmy therapy addresses many types of illness. Eurythmy is taught to children in Waldorf (Steiner) Schools and in curative education and anthroposophical social therapy for those with complex needs or learning disabilities. Eurythmy also comes into the office and factory bringing a range of benefits.
Doctors trained in anthroposophical medicine may prescribe specific eurythmy exercises to their patients. It is always necessary to have a personal referral from an experienced doctor before working with a eurythmy therapist.
Now all that can be perceived by supersensible vision, all that can thus be learned about the nature of these forms and gestures of the air, can be carried into movements of the arms and hands, into movements of the whole human being. There then arises in visible form the actual counterpart of speech. One can use the entire human body in such a way that it really carries out those movements which are otherwise carried out by the organs connected with speech and music. Thus there arises visible speech, visible music — in other words, the art of Eurythmy. -- Rudolf Steiner (Lecture on eurythmy)
Eurythmy is beautifully described at Eurythmy Spring Valley »
Eurythmy at Wikipedia » Rudolf Steiner »
Eurythmy therapy » Eurythmy in education »
Eurythmy in the Workplace »
Further reading »