Anthroposophy,  Podcast,  Waldorfy Podcast

An Introduction to Eurythmy

This was a very special interview for me to conduct. I made up my mind quite a while ago that I wanted to feature an episode on eurythmy. It was an extra special treat to get to have my mother-in-law Carol Renwick as my guest.

Carol met Anthroposophy and eurythmy in her twenties when she was a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Toronto. Eurythmy spoke to her soul and held out a promise of supporting her to become a whole, integrated person, not just a walking head and dancer with little connection between the two.  She decided to commit to the 4 year training and then also studied eurythmy pedagogy.  She taught in various Waldorf schools, both to children and parents, while also raising two children. She has also taught residents and coworkers in communities for people with developmental challenges. 

 Her path also took her into energy healing which she sees and experiences as very related, both helping her to develop herself, and deepen her understanding of our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical being. 

She has subsequently taught eurythmy in Mexico as well as the USA and enjoyed the challenge of working in Spanish. This has helped her to understand the special character and genius of both Spanish and English. 

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In this episode Carol and I discuss how she discovered eurythmy, and then what eurythmy is. To define it simply, eurythmy is a style of movement. Similar to dance, but not quite the same. One of the most distinct qualities about it, as Carol points out is how it can be used with spoken words like poetry. She gives examples of exactly how the phonetics of words can be illustrated through eurythmy. We also discussed the intended uses of eurythmy and why it's taught in Waldorf schools.

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Resources:

Books~
The origins of eurythmy:
How the New Art of Eurythmy Began: Lory Maier - Smits, The First Eurythmist
By Magdalene Siegloch
An engaging biography of Lory as she finds her path in life and in eurythmy as a co-creator with Rudolf Steiner of a new art
Thomas Poplawski has written a number of books about eurythmy,
One is Eurythmy, rhythm, dance and soul, which presents the origin of eurythmy in the context of the search for new ways of moving in the early 20th century.
Rudolf Steiner’s Introductions to Eurythmy is a collection of his remarks preceding the first performances, placing eurythmy in the context of Anthroposophy and also Goethean science!
There are the collections of lessons given by Steiner to eurythmists later:
Eurythmy as Visible Speech
Eurythmy as Visible Music.  Or Visible Singing.
The book Carol mentions which helps us understand how sound creates forms is Cymatics by Hans Jenny.  It is a treasure of beautiful images all created by sound. On YouTube there are videos of the creation of these forms so one can see in movement the forming process.
Sensitive Chaos, by Theodore Schwenk, is another book Carol recommends about the formative powers of air and water.  It has wonderful illustrations of flow forms in nature and in art.
Videos:
Because eurythmy is a visible art form, a performing art, it is so valuable to see it. As there are very limited possibilities for this, especially during this present health crisis we're experiencing in 2020,  the resources available on line are definitely helpful.
Carol mentioned, Kindergarten Eurythmy, a delightful lesson, available on YouTube.
There are other offerings online.
Eurythmy4you.com has a great introduction.
Eurythmyonline has some fine lessons on individual sounds.
Some additional notes from Carol:
Thomas Cole, an American painter, painted 4 large canvases in the mid 1800’s called The Voyage of Life.  These can be found on line.  They are valuable because they show the archetypal nature of the sounds and the soul qualities expressed in the vowels:  the open wonder of the child in the Ah sound, the upright adventurer of the youth in the Ee sound, the confrontation with life of the mature person in the Ay sound, and the contracting and focusing toward the beyond the old person in the Oo sound.
A final quote from Steiner:
Man is a form proceeding out of movement. Eurythmy is a continuation of divine movement, of the divine form in man.  By means of Eurythmy man approaches nearer the divine than he otherwise could.
(I believe we can change all the Man words to human being, because clearly Steiner meant all human beings not just one gender!)
Steiner said that if we could sound all of the sounds of the alphabet at the same time, we would have the whole etheric or life form of a human being before us!

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2 Comments

  • Carol Renwick

    After seeing the beautiful felt painting of the root children walking up and bringing flowers to the earth, I thought of the following play. Two people, a parent and child, two children, or even two adults are enough, however any number can join in.
    One person or group are the seeds and they curl up really tightly on the flour.
    The other person or group are the sunbeams. They come and send sunbeams down onto the seeds.
    They can describe how they are shining and awakening the seeds.
    The seeds begin to uncurl, sending up arm shoots.
    Depending on the age of the children, the seeds can continue to develop stems, leaves , buds and blossoms.
    Then the participants can change roles.
    Many variations are possible. Rain fairies can join in too to bring their gentle blessing of rain.

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