"I used to play the cello," Isabella recounts. "When there is perfect pitch in any key, the D string vibrates. That is when you know you are completely in tune. And that is similar to what is possibly in eurythmy – when one is able to truly make tones and intervals visible, it will sing."
Isabella returned to San Francisco Waldorf School over winter break to talk about her unique path from the high school (Class of 2011) to international eurythmist-in-training. She is nearing the end of her four years of study at the Eurythmeum Stuttgart in Germany where she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Eurythmy.
The conversation was sprinkled with insights into the world of a young eurythmist who is deepening her understanding of the meaning behind the movement and discovering the sweeping possibilities of the practice -- in education, the arts, therapy.
"When you see Eurthymy in Germany and compare it to the practice here, we are just so new," notes Isabella. "It is simply not as widespread or developed, and there are great possibilities to share the art form. Eventually, I'd like to come back and offer eurythmy to people who wouldn't come in contact with it – people outside of Waldorf education of all ages. It is awesome and all-encompassing in its breadth, and more people should have opportunities to experience eurythmy."
Isabella attended a Waldorf charter school in grade school that had everything but eurythmy. So her first exposure came at San Francisco Waldorf High School, and she took to it immediately, first in ninth grade class and later as a member of the school's performance troupe where she toured internationally. She describes herself having stage presence from a young age, feeling alive in performance, and drawn to movement.
As high school graduation approached, Isabella applied to colleges but didn't know what she wanted to study. "Art or communications were possibilities," she recalls, but questioned, "Is that really me?" She was drawn to continue her studies of eurythmy and found a mentor in Astrid Thiersch, the high school's Eurythmy teacher. "I saw her practice Eurythmy. I saw her art and her life and her role as a teacher. I decided that is what I want – to learn and to teach eurythmy."
Isabella didn't know much about Steiner's philosophy, but followed her heart to Germany to study. Like many adventurous young people, she did not know what she was getting into. First, there were immense practical challenges of living independently abroad: with only a few months of the language under her belt, she began her undergraduate studies in German. The intensive program includes six hours of eurythmy daily in addition to course work in anthroposophy, taught using the block system – at a place that she describes as a Waldorf college.
"The first year I returned and wondered if I could keep going," notes Isabella. "Where is the sun? It was cold and grey, and I wasn't able to fully express my feelings about the studies. (Steiner is difficult enough to read in English!) But I said, 'Ok, I really love eurythmy. Keep going. It will be fine.' Now I am almost finished – I did it."Isabella looks back fondly to her years at the high school, noting the confidence she gained from her academic studies and the practical toolkit that gave her a broad range of unusual skills. (She earns college money by sewing.) She and her classmates also recognize their strengths in creative problem solving, applicable in all facets of life.
"I understand German well now, but recognize that I am not a eurythmy expert. I see this as a lifelong journey – to understand Steiner's teachings and to express myself through the art of euythmy. It is time to go out in the world and try out what I have learned."