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Rudolf Steiner and Eurythmy

Eurythmy is a new art form created by Rudolf Steiner. Eurythmy is an art, like modern dance or sculpture. In a slightly modified form, it can also be applied therapeutically, similar to the way the painting can be applied as a form of therapy, known as Art Therapy.

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Quotes

Rudolf Steiner:
That is the essential point — that Eurythmy is visible speech, visible music. One can go even further and maintain that the movements of Eurythmy do actually proceed out of the inner organisation of man. Anyone who says: “As far as I am concerned, speech and music are all-sufficient; there can surely be no need to extend the sphere of art; I, for my part, have not the slightest wish for Eurythmy”; — such a man is, of course, perfectly right from his particular point of view. There is always a certain justification for any opinion, however conventional or pedantic. Why should one not hold such opinions? There is certainly no reason why one should not — none at all; but it cannot be said that such a standpoint shows any really deep artistic feeling and understanding. A truly artistic nature welcomes everything that could possibly serve to widen and enrich the whole field of art.
Lecture of 26th August, 1923

Rudolf Steiner:
Eurythmy can be accompanied, not only by recitation and declamation, but also by instrumental music. But here it must always be borne in mind that Eurythmy is music translated into movement, and is not dancing in any sense of the word. There is a fundamental difference between Eurythmy and dancing. People, however, often fail to make this distinction when seeing Eurythmy on the stage, owing to the fact that Eurythmy uses as its instrument the human body in motion. I myself know of a journalist — I am not personally acquainted with him, but his articles have been brought to my notice — who, writing on Eurythmy, says: “It cannot be denied that, when one witnesses a demonstration of Eurythmy, the performers on the stage are continually in motion. Eurythmy must, therefore, be looked upon as dancing, and must be judged accordingly.” Now I think it will be admitted that what we have seen here of Tone-Eurythmy, of this visible singing, accompanied as it is by instrumental music, is clearly to be distinguished from ordinary dancing. Tone-Eurythmy is essentially not dancing, but is a singing in movement, movement which can be carried out either by a single performer, or by many together.
Lecture of 26th August, 1923

Rudolf Steiner:
... But some little time after the founding of the Waldorf School, it was discovered that Eurythmy can serve as a very important means of education; and we are now in a position to recognise the full significance of Eurythmy from the educational point of view. In the Waldorf School, [The original Waldorf School in Stuttgart of which Steiner was educational director] Eurythmy has been made a compulsory subject both for boys and girls, right through the school, from the lowest to the highest class; and it has become apparent that what is thus brought to the children as visible speech and music is accepted and absorbed by them in just as natural a way as they absorb spoken language or song in their very early years. The child feels his way quite naturally into the movements of Eurythmy. ... The Waldorf School has already been in existence for some years, and the experience lying behind us justified us in saying that in this school unusual attention is paid to the cultivation of initiative, of will — qualities sorely needed by humanity in the present day. This initiative of the will is developed quite remarkably through Eurythmy, when, as in the Waldorf School, it is used as a means of education. One thing, however, must be made perfectly clear, and that is, that the greatest possible misunderstanding would arise, if for one moment it were to be imagined that Eurythmy could be taught in the schools and looked upon as a valuable asset in education, if, at the same time, as an art it were to be neglected and underestimated. Eurythmy must in the first place be looked upon as an art, and in this it differs in no respect from the other arts. And in the same way that the other arts are taught in the schools, but have an independent artistic existence of their own in the world, so Eurythmy also can only be taught in the schools when it is fully recognised as an art and given its proper place within our modern civilisation.
Lecture of 26th August, 1923

Rudolf Steiner:
Shortly after the founding of the Waldorf School, a number of doctors having found their way into the Anthroposophical Movement, there arose the practice of medicine from the Anthroposophical point of view. These doctors expressed the urgent wish that the movements of Eurythmy, drawn as they are out of the healthy nature of the human being, and offering to the human being a means of expression suited to his whole organisation — that these movements should be adapted where necessary, and placed at the service of the art of healing. Eurythmy, from its very nature, is ever seeking for outlet through the human being. Anyone who understands the hand, for example, must be aware that it was not formed merely to lie still and be looked upon. The fingers are quite meaningless when they are inactive. They only acquire significance when they seize at things, grasp them, when their passivity is transformed into movement. Their very form reveals the movement inherent within them. The same may be said of the human being as a whole. What we know under the name of Eurythmy is nothing else than the means whereby the human organism can find healthy outlet through movement. So that certain of the movements of Eurythmy, though naturally differing somewhat from the movements which we use in Eurythmy as an art, and having undergone a certain metamorphosis, can be made use of and developed into a Curative Eurythmy. This Curative Eurythmy can be of extreme value in the treatment of illness, and can be applied in those cases where one knows the way in which a certain movement will react upon a certain organ with beneficial results.
Lecture of 26th August, 1923

Books

Thomas Poplawski. Eurythmy: Rhythm, Dance and Soul. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1998.

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