Eurythmy and speech online?

Eurythmy and speech online?

23 August 2021 Wilburg Keller Roth 4353 views

The Section for Performing Arts at the Goetheanum held its 2021 Easter Conference online. The physician Wilburg Keller Roth described her impressions of this event in the June edition of the magazine ‘Auftakt’. Below are extracts from her article.

Choosing as the main topic the problem of electronic communication and inviting the first courageous experts in this field to contribute to the conference was a good move. As previous generations had to do with the railway, automobiles or the telephone, we now have to gain experiences and acquire specific skills in dealing with electronic communication.

Image and life

Watching almost all the eurythmy videos on offer left me exhausted! My conclusion: eurythmy on video is not enlivening, just as having a wall paper depicting a forest cannot replace a real forest. This is true even for eurythmic movements that are filmed in nature. But nature becomes a calm and appropriate visual setting that harmonizes with the gestures. What videos can convey, however, is the aesthetic of the movement, rhythms, colours and forms in time, particularly with tone eurythmy. The slow speaking for speech eurythmy is even more of a problem on video than it can be on stage. Aspects that have been neglected catch the viewer’s attention and become distractive: the shoulder that has not been fully penetrated, a tummy sticking out … The wide-angle perspective of the mobile phone camera distorts faces; unfavourable light changes the colours. Advance television technology has raised our expectations. The sound quality can also be problematic, as can a piano that is out of tune. Of course this does not prevent the viewer from rejoicing in the enthusiasm of children and teachers doing school eurythmy. Eurythmy was wrested from Ahriman and he takes it back wherever he can if we let this happen. That we should be aware of this – as well as of the Luciferic temptations – was an important concern of the Stuttgart eurythmy therapist Ursula Ziegenbein (DE).

Visual and aural spaces

Visual space objectifies; it focuses us on the centre. Aural space spiritualizes; takes our attention to the periphery. We can experience the difference by first closing our eyes and listening, and then opening them again: the spatial experience is totally different. Eurythmy needs to be approached from the aural space. How can this be conveyed through a visual medium?

A video does not add anything to a thoughtful presentation: when I blank out the picture, the ‘quiet imagining’ that accompanies the listening (Rudolf Steiner, GA 315, lecture of 17 April 1921) is enhanced and I can remember more easily what I have heard.

Stefan Hasler’s wonderful presentation on the Apollonian Course, for which he used images, tables and eurythmy demonstrations, showed how much preparation is needed to optimally use the online facilities. We all have much to learn!