What is Eurythmy?
By Kristina Hamilton, Eurythmy Teacher
Trying to define Eurythmy is like trying to see the wind. You can watch the movement of the leaves in the tree, a dancing kite high in the sky, or the billowing sails of a boat, but can you really see the wind itself? Similarly with Eurythmy, can you really see the force which allows the child to replace baby teeth, later to develop interest and love for others, enabled by a new-found joy in language, or still later to be able to think about the world around him? These are invisible forming forces which allow for growth and change, so powerful that even a tender blade of grass can push its way through a tiny crack in the concrete to new life and light. Eurythmy aims to make these invisible forces of life visible through movement.
Unlike other forms of movement such as sport or gymnastics which develop a person’s capacity to fit into the surrounding laws of the physical world, Eurythmy works with inner soul forces. It is sometimes called “Soul Gymnastics”. In Rudolf Steiner’s words, “Eurythmy lets the soul life flow outwards and thereby becomes a real expression of the human being, like language is. Eurythmy is visible speech.” Eurythmy gestures are not arbitrary but follow the organic laws of movement, particularly within the larynx while speaking. Through the insight of Rudolf Steiner we learn how to make these inner movements visible through outer arm gestures. The arms begin to silently “speak” or, in the case of music with its own laws and gestures, silently “sing”. Children, being naturally much closer to the spiritual origin of the Word, can “read” these gestures with ease. For the adult, Eurythmy becomes a path of conscious awakening to the spirit.
There are two subjects that are unique to Waldorf Schools: Eurythmy and Form Drawing. With utmost care and observation of the ever-changing formative life forces, a Eurythmy curriculum has been developed over many years which meets the budding capabilities of each particular age group. Much of its subject matter reflects themes from the Main Lessons. As well as the obvious benefits to the skills of writing and reading, Eurythmy acts as an antidote to the hardening forces of our modern technological world. It cultivates harmonious and enlivening forces, inner strength of soul, and a feeling for artistic beauty, all of which are under threat daily through the materialistic distractions of sensory overload.
To appreciate the world-wide influence Eurythmy now has, it is important to know of its humble beginnings.
The art of Eurythmy was born through Rudolf Steiner in the early part of the twentieth century in response to
a conversation with a mother looking for a worthwhile vocation for her daughter who was about to choose
a career. As well as bringing renewal to the art of dance through the birth of Eurythmy, this great and
remarkable man (through his “Anthroposophy”, meaning “Wisdom of the Human Being”) also brought
renewal to the art of education through the Waldorf Curriculum, to agriculture through Biodynamics, to
medicine, religion, the sciences and to almost every human endeavour one can imagine.