Students participate in International Youth Eurythmy Project in Berlin

The two performances were scheduled for August 3rd and 4th 2012 at the Freie Waldorfschule Kreutzberg in Berlin, and suddenly tickets were scarce. Phones rang and emails pinged from around the world as people tried to secure the last precious seats. The secret was out, and the buzz was loud – something very special was stirring in Berlin!

Both performances were sold out. The fortunate ones in the hall were indeed moved – greatly, unforgettably, and in manifold ways. The performance began with J.S. Bach’s famous Air, sensitively and tunefully rendered by a premier Russian youth orchestra, Gnessin Virtuosen Moskau, directed by Michail Khokhlov. Then, silently, eighty-three young performers appeared in two streams from the wings, meeting in pairs downstage center, separating onto the aprons and moving slowly around the hall, encircling the audience with the vibration of potential energy clothed in white trousers, tunics and short veils. As the peripheral movement ended, the performers graced the audience in the center with a powerful E-vo-e. This was the cue for a vortakt to begin on stage, ushering in the orchestra with Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, a haunting series of nine variations punctuated by drum and claves. Different groups of performers presented each movement in eurythmy,and the circulation around the hall continued in between. The largely geometric forms suited the piece perfectly, yet the movements were filled with longing, and the breaking of the fourth wall gently swept the audience into the performers’ movement.

The young performers had rehearsed intensively for four weeks to master Fratres and also Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, an astonishing undertaking. Divided into four groups, they worked with different artistic directors who created original choreography for each movement: Astrid Thiersch from San Francisco, first movement; Ulrike Wendt and Mikko Jairi from Türingen and Berlin, second movement; Reinhard Wedemeier and Jakob von Verschuer from Berlin, third movement; and Sonnhild Gädeke-Mothes and Aurel Mothes from Kassel, fourth movement.

After an ebullient intermission the main event began. From the famous off-beat beginning through all of the themes – insistent, reflective, humorous, joyous, triumphant – the performers moved with every note and nuance. The music was deeply within them, and powerfully revealed in their gestures and in the wonderfully inventive and expressive choreography. The colors of the gowns and veils, carefully chosen, and the dramatic qualities of the music were beautifully enhanced by Peter Jackson’s adept and sensitive lighting. The overwhelming impression from the performers was of focused energy and total involvement. Through eurythmy, these young people found a channel to express the depths and heights of their feeling and the breadth of their physical and soul agility. They were completely committed to every movement and to each other, and their resonant energy created a final movement in the audience of prolonged standing, stamping, clapping, calling and celebrating a breathtaking accomplishment.

In the run-up to the performance the participants took over the Rudolf Steiner Schule Dahlem. They ate and slept there, and rehearsed long hours for four intensive weeks; some called it ‘extreme eurythmy’ or the ‘eurythmy Olympiad’. Aged seventeen to twenty-three, they came from fourteen countries and were nearly all former Waldorf students. All were amateurs (no eurythmy students were allowed), and all were eager to re-discover the experience of eurythmy as deeply as possible. This they did, and conveyed their experience in a wonderfully vibrant way.

“What Moves You?” was the inspiration of Project Director André Macco, who had a vision, kept it alive, and inspired others to join in the work and give financial support. André and his supporting team truly created the event as reality: Johannes Duve, Assistant Project Director and master of detail; Gislind Christiane Macco, who wove the social fabric together through loving care and inventive morning exercises; and Tamali Duve, who kept everyone fed, rested and healthy. The project behind the scenes was immense, and the gratitude of all of us to this team can be no less.

The Artistic Directors approached the task with the full intention of realizing it, but they had to ask if it really would be possible. The students answered with positive unanimity that yes, they could accomplish it. In the end everyone was a little astonished, somewhat humbled, and very grateful. Witnessing this extraordinary achievement in this hundredth year of eurythmy, some questions arise: What moment was this in the history of eurythmy? Who were the members of this special team? How were they able to do this? How was it possible for eurythmy to incarnate so gloriously in this moment? What will these young people bring out of this impulse?

The vision and innate talent of the team of leaders and teachers was the basis of everything. The remarkable passion of the students lifted the work on high. And perhaps the lightning of inspiration came from friends who had gone before, who saw an opportunity to make a kind of eurythmy history. What moved these young performers? One could see forces combine, flowing from exceptional teachers and from guiding spirits of eurythmy. In the end, the most powerful force may be a drive within the souls of these young people to experience art as a reaching to the realm of the spirit, and to create a vital contribution to human life. This dynamic and compelling movement in Berlin clearly augurs well for the future.

– David Weber
San Francisco