Eurythmy

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Eurythmy is an expressive movement art originated by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Marie von Sivers in the early 20th century. Primarily a performance art, it is also used in education, especially in Waldorf schools, and  as part of anthroposophic medicine   for claimed therapeutic purposes. [1] [2]

Rudolf Steiner Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

Marie Steiner-von Sivers Anthroposophist

Marie Steiner-von Sivers was the second wife of Rudolf Steiner and one of his closest colleagues. She made a great contribution to the development of anthroposophy, particularly in her work on the renewal of the performing arts, and the editing and publishing of Rudolf Steiner's literary estate.

Pedagogy Theory and practice of education

Pedagogy refers more broadly to the theory and practice of learning, and how this process influences, and is influenced by, the psychological development of learners. Pedagogy, taken as an academic discipline, is the study of how knowledge and skills are imparted in an educational context, and it considers the interactions that take place during learning. Both the theory and practise of pedagogy varies greatly, as they reflect different social, political, and cultural contexts. Pedagogy is the act of teaching. Theories of pedagogy increasingly identify the student as an agent, and the teacher as a facilitator. Conventional western pedagogies, however, view the teacher as knowledge holder and student as the recipient of knowledge.

Contents

The word eurythmy stems from Greek roots meaning beautiful or harmonious rhythm.

History

Eurythmy was conceived in 1911 when a widow brought her young daughter, Lory Smits, who was interested in movement and dance, to the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Due to the recent loss of her father, it was necessary for the girl to find a career. Steiner's advice was sought; he suggested that the girl begin working on a new art of movement. As preparation for this, she began to study human anatomy, to explore the human step, to contemplate the movement implicit in Greek sculpture and dance, and to find movements that would express spoken sentences using the sounds of speech. Soon a number of other young people became interested in this form of expressive movement.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising nine federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly nine million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

During these years, Steiner was writing a new drama each year for performance at the Anthroposophical Society's summer gatherings; beginning in 1912, he began to incorporate the new art of movement into these dramas. When the Society decided to build an artistic center in Dornach, Switzerland (this later became known as the Goetheanum) a small stage group began work and offered weekly performances of the developing art. Marie Steiner-von Sivers, Steiner's wife, who was a trained actress and speech artist, was given responsibility for training and directing this ensemble. This first eurythmy ensemble went on tour in 1919, performing across Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany. [3]

Anthroposophical Society

The General Anthroposophical Society is an "association of people whose will it is to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world." As an organization, it is dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the inner path of schooling known as anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner.

Dornach Place in Solothurn, Switzerland

Dornach is a municipality in the district of Dorneck in the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi), and land area of 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.

Steiner saw eurythmy as a unique expression of the anthroposophical impulse:

Anthroposophy philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner

Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded in the early 20th-century by esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and specifically seek a precision and clarity in studying the spiritual world mirroring that obtained by natural historians in investigations of the physical world.

It is the task of Anthroposophy to bring a greater depth, a wider vision and a more living spirit into the other forms of art. But the art of Eurythmy could only grow up out of the soul of Anthroposophy; could only receive its inspiration through a purely Anthroposophical conception. [4]

Rudolf Steiner

According to Steiner: In eurythmy we present in the form and movement of the human organism a direct external proof of a man's share in the life of the supersensible world. When people do eurythmy they are linked directly with the supersensible world. Whenever art is formed from a truly artistic conviction it bears witness to the connection of the human being with the supersensible world. (Dornach, 12 September 1920) [5]

In 1924, Steiner gave two intensive workshops on different aspects of eurythmy; transcripts of his talks during these workshops are published as Eurythmy as Visible Speech and Eurythmy as Visible Singing.

Eurythmy ensembles in Stuttgart, Germany and at the Goetheanum soon became established parts of the cultural life of Europe. The Goetheanum ensemble was recognized with a gold medal at the Paris Expo of 1937/8. The Stuttgart training and ensemble, led by Else Klink, had to close in the Nazi period but reopened shortly after the close of World War II. There are now training centers and artistic ensembles in many countries. [3]

Etymology

The word eurythmy stems from Greek roots meaning beautiful or harmonious rhythm. The term was used by Ancient Greek and Roman architects to refer to the harmonious proportions of a design or building; [6] The English word eurythmy was used from the 17th to 19th century to refer not only to harmonious architectural proportions, but also to "rhythmical order or movement" and "a graceful proportion and carriage of the body". [7]

Movement repertoire

The gestures in the eurythmist's movement repertoire relate to the sounds and rhythms of speech, to the tones and rhythms of music and to "soul experiences", such as joy and sorrow. Once these fundamental repertoire elements are learned, they can be composed into free artistic expressions. The eurythmist also cultivates a feeling for the qualities of straight lines and curves, the directions of movement in space (forward, backward, up, down, left, right), contraction and expansion, and color. The element of color is also emphasized both through the costuming, usually given characteristic colors for a piece or part and formed of long, loose fabrics that accentuate the movements rather than the bodily form, and through the lighting, which saturates the space and changes with the moods of the piece. [8]

Eurythmy's aim is to bring the artists' expressive movement and both the performers' and audience's feeling experience into harmony with a piece's content; [8] eurythmy is thus sometimes called "visible music" or "visible speech", expressions that originate with its founder, Rudolf Steiner, who described eurythmy as an "art of the soul".

Most eurythmy today is performed to classical (concert) music or texts such as poetry or stories. Silent pieces are also sometimes performed. [8]

Eurythmy with music

When performing eurythmy with music (also called tone eurythmy), the three major elements of music, melody, harmony and rhythm, are all expressed. [8] The melody is primarily conveyed through expressing its rise and fall; the specific pitches; and the intervallic qualities present. Harmony is expressed through movement between tension and release, as expressions of dissonance and consonance, and between the more inwardly directed minor mood and the outwardly directed major mood. Rhythm is chiefly conveyed through livelier and more contoured movements for quick notes, slower, dreamier movements for longer notes; in addition, longer tones move into the more passive (listening) back space, quicker tones into the more active front space.

Breaths or pauses are expressed through a larger or smaller movement in space, giving new impulse to what follows. Beat is conveyed through greater emphasis of downbeats, or those beats upon which stress is normally placed. Beat is generally treated as a subsidiary element. Eurythmy has only occasionally been done to popular music, in which beat plays a large role.

The timbre of individual instruments is brought into the quality both of the tonal gestures and of the whole movement of the eurythmist. Usually there will be a different eurythmist or group of eurythmists expressing each instrument, for example in chamber or symphonic music.

A piece's choreography usually expresses elements such as the major or minor key, the shape of the melody line, the interplay between voices or instruments and the relative dominance of one or another voice or instrument. Thus, musicians can often follow even the finest details of their part in the movements of the eurythmists on stage. Particular musical forms (e.g. the sonata) can have special characteristic choreographic expressions. [9]

Eurythmy with spoken texts

Eurythmy is often performed with spoken texts such as poetry, stories or plays. Speech eurythmy includes such elements as the sounds of speech, rhythms, poetic meters, grammar and mood. In speech eurythmy, all the sounds of language have characteristic gestural qualities: the sound of an 'A' is open due to the position of the articulators during the vowel. A 'k' sounds sharper due to the manner of articulation of the consonant, that it is a plosive. Note that it is the audible sounds themselves, not the letters of the written language, that are expressed. [10]

Eurythmy as a performing art

There are notable eurythmy ensembles in Dornach, Switzerland; Stuttgart, Germany; The Hague, Netherlands; London, England; Järna, Sweden, and Chestnut Ridge, New York (near New York City). All of these groups both perform locally and tour internationally. Many smaller performing groups also exist (see list). High schools that have their own performing ensembles include the San Francisco Waldorf High School ensemble.

Pedagogical eurythmy

When the first Waldorf School was founded in 1919, eurythmy was included in the curriculum. [11] It was quickly recognized as a successful complement to gymnastics in the school's movement program and is now taught in most Waldorf schools, as well as in many non-Waldorf pre-school centers, kindergartens and schools. It is taught to all ages from pre-schools through high school and into college. Its purpose is to awaken and strengthen the expressive capacities of children through movement, stimulating the child to bring imagination, ideation and conceptualization to the point where they can manifest these as "vital, moving forms" in physical space. [8] It is also thought to improve balance, coordination, concentration, rhythm, and form an awareness of patterns.

Eurythmy pedagogical exercises begin with the straight line and curve and proceed through successively more complicated geometric figures and choreographed forms, developing a child's coordination and concentration. An extensive set of special exercises has also been developed for pedagogical purposes. [8] These include metamorphosing geometric patterns and dynamic movement sequences.

Rods or balls are sometimes used in exercises to develop precision in movement, to expand the experience of space, develop precise balance, and to objectify the movement experience. The rods are usually approximately the length of an arm; the balls are of a size to fit comfortably in one hand. Both are generally made of copper, a material receptive to warmth.

Though there are some independent post-graduate trainings for pedagogical eurythmy, this aspect is frequently included in courses focusing on artistic work.

Therapeutic eurythmy

Eurythmy is a component of anthroposophic medicine, [1] a system of alternative medicine which has been criticised as unscientific, [12] pseudoscientific [13] and as "pure quackery". [14]

According to the precepts of anthroposophic medicine, a human has four aspects which need to be treated: spirit, soul, life and matter. [2] Eurythmy is one of the practices said to act on the "life" aspect, and is claimed to effect an "improvement of health related life functions". [2] A person receiving eurthymy therapy moves under the guidance of a eurythmy therapist, who will have been trained two years beyond the four-year fundamental course in eurythmy. The movements may be adapted to the condition of the person being treated; for example, they may be done while either sitting or even lying down. [15] Therapeutic eurythmy is claimed to bring about a "re-integration of body, soul, and spirit." [2]

A 2008 review in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine said that eurythmy was a "potentially relevant add-on" to a therapeutic program, [16] but though the studies reviewed reported improvement in symptoms, limitations in the underlying data and in the review methods means these conclusions "warrant cautious interpretation". [17]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Rawlings, Roger. "Rudolf Steiner's Quackery". QuackWatch . Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Heusser, Peter; Kienle, Gunver Sophia (2009). "Anthroposophic medicine, integrative oncology, and mistletoe therapy of cancer". In Abrams, Donald; Weil, Andrew (eds.). Integrative Oncology. Weil Integrative Medicine Library. Oxford University Press. p. 327. ISBN   978-0-19-988585-5.
  3. 1 2 Alan Stott, Eurythmy: its Birth and Development, ISBN   0-9541048-4-6
  4. Rudolf Steiner's "Lecture on Eurythmy" August 26, 1923
  5. Biesantz/Klingborg, The Goetheanum: Rudolf Steiner's Architectural Impulse (London, 1979), p. 49
  6. Matila Ghyka, The Geometry of Art and Life, Sheen and Ward, NY 1946, p. 5.
  7. "Eurhythmy", Oxford English Dictionary, accessed 1/14/14
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Carlo Willmann, Waldorfpädogogik, Böhlau Verlag, ISBN   3-412-01898-8, 1998.
  9. Robert A. McDermott, The Essential Steiner, ISBN   0-06-065345-0, p. 403
  10. [ non-primary source needed ] Steiner on eurythmy.
  11. Karl Stockmeyer, Rudolf Steiner's Curriculum for Waldorf Schools, Steiner Schools Fellowship, 1985
  12. McKie, Robin; Hartmann, Laura (29 April 2012). "Holistic unit will 'tarnish' Aberdeen University reputation". The Observer.
  13. Dugan, Dan (2002). Michael Shermer (ed.). Anthroposophy and Anthroposophical Medicine. The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. ABC-CLIO. pp. 31–32. ISBN   978-1-57607-653-8.
  14. Jump, Paul (11 May 2012). "Aberdeen decides against alternative medicine chair". Times Higher Education Supplement.
  15. Hübner, Jutta (2008). Komplementäre Onkologie: supportive Maßnahmen und evidenzbasierte Empfehlungen. Schattauer Verlag. pp. 13–14.
  16. Büssing A, Ostermann T, Majorek M, Matthiessen PF (2008). "Eurythmy Therapy in clinical studies: a systematic literature review". BMC Complement Altern Med. 8: 8. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-8. PMC   2322948 . PMID   18377647.
  17. "Eurythmy Therapy in clinical studies: a systematic literature review", Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, 7 April 2009 http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/CRDWeb/ShowRecord.asp?AccessionNumber=12008103765#.U0Yu14XePN0 Missing or empty |title= (help)

Bibliography