«One must be able to think in colors and forms as one is able to think in terms and thoughts.»

Eurythmy as stage art

Else-Klink-Ensemble Stuttgart (Foto: Charlotte Fischer)

The auditorium is dark. The curtains open to reveal a stage bathed in coloured light. As a group of four eurythmists appears from the wings, a string quartet in front of the stage begins to play. The music is quiet at first, the Instruments seem to melt together. The eurythmists convey this in their choreography, gently weaving in between one another, all moving in the same direction. Their garments, veils of very fine silk, float on the air tracing and extending the gestures that are made.

Then we hear the first violin rise above the other Instruments. Here one of the eurythmists, dressed in yellow, breaks away from the others to express this soaring melody. Later the music becomes more dramatic and builds to a climax. One instrument breaks in upon another, echoing its furious descent. The stage has darkened to a deep red and the eurythmists rise and plunge in a whirl of coloured veils. Finally, they are all caught up in a sweeping movement which glides in unison over the whole of the stage as the intensity is resolved in the harmony of the final cadence.

Such a piece might open a programme of eurythmy. There are eurythmy companies performing all over the world. Some productions are small, perhaps an evening of music and poetry in the local hall, or a fairy-tale for children in a school. Other performances are on a larger scale, touring major cities and involving an entire orchestra, specially-trained Speakers and lighting technicians.

Programmes vary greatly in theme and content, often including both modern and classical works, texts in different languages, with serious and humorous pieces. Sometimes the entire programme consists of one longer story, play or musical work.

'Dramatic eurythmy' also plays an important part in the stage art. We experience this particularly in the performance of a nursery rhyme, legendary fable. In such pieces, the inner nature of an animal would be expressed in its form and gestures - the quick, nervous movements of a bird darting to and fro, the plodding of an elephant with its rounded back.

Characters in a fairy-tale or folk-tale would also show a particular style of movement, often accentuated to bring out the dramatic elements of their personalities. The wicked witch, for instance, might lead her sharp movements with the chin and nose, and emphasize her fingers - crooked, bony and out-stretched.

The costumes worn for such pieces are more like those met in the theatre, yet they are not naturalistic. They are designed to help the movement capture the essence of the role: bear, frog, miser, fool, as the case may be. Masks and headpieces are sometimes worn and stage make-up, of course, is also used.

Eurythmy is also occasionally used in combination with acting - actors and eurythmists on stage together. In a play like A Midsummer Night's Dream, the roles of Puck and the fairies might be expressed in eurythmy, the lines being spoken off-stage, while the mortals are played by actors. In this way Shakespeare's magical fairy world appears as another dimension, touching and playing with the earthly one.

Finally, a word about the audience! Any live performance is a creative risk, an exchange between the onlooker as well as the performer. Each gives and receives. It is this mutual involvement which ultimately determines the success of any eurythmy performance.