Feb 06 04 by Published in: Interviews No comments yet

In a flutter of red silk, Kristin Seeley dances the alphabet, flowing through the musical scales.

He finds the spaces between sentences and listens to the turn of a musical phrase, tracing their patterns in geometric forms with his feet, as his hands sing the vowel sounds, giving shape to each note.

As an eurythmist, Seeley uses his body as an instrument to make music and poetry seen.

“Eurythmists make visible the creative forces behind human speech, behind music,” he said of the nearly century-old art form.

Seeley has spent years studying the “art of being human” through the movement discipline of eurythmy. His training involves learning how to listen to poetry and music intensely, looking for the creative force behind the work, and then interpreting and bringing to form that energy which brings a poem or a song into being.

“A poem or a piece of music is inspired. There is movement in that creation. There is a spiritual form,” he said. “Eurythmy makes that visible.”

Rather than coming from a personal response to words or music, eurythmy gestures arise out of the original creation of a piece.

When choreographing, Seeley tries to connect with this original intent by “living inside” the work. He searches for a way to connect with the source of the energy that authored each piece.

Since January, Seeley has been teaching local students and adults how to look to the creative forces of a work and bring them out into movement.

Now, with the help of some of his students, he will give a public performance of this little-known art form, allowing an audience to watch the way words and sounds can blossom into gesture.

This free performance is scheduled Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Leffler Chapel at Elizabethtown College.

Elizabethtown musician Kym Carkhuff-Helwig will accompany the performance on flute and piano.

Although its roots are in the mystery dances and cultural awakenings of ancient Greece, eurythmy developed as an art form in Europe during the early 1900s under the guidance of artist, philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner. It evolved at the same time that Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were likewise breaking ground in the field of movement, looking for new kinds of expression beyond classical ballet.

“Eurythmy is a spiritual form of movement,” said Seeley. “Modern dance holds as its ideal the reaching toward the etheric that eurythmy offers.”

Seeley describes his work as intuitive.

“People naturally do it. When you ask them to show what the letter B sounds like, they move like this,” he said, gesturing the roundness of the sound, scooping the air toward his body.

Rehearsing at the Susquehanna Waldorf School in Marietta, students trace the floor in the pattern of a five-pointed star, while their arms breathe and embrace each of the five vowel sounds. At once this movement seems mystical, and yet, perfectly obvious. The “ah” sound is a wide open-armed gesture of acceptance and awe. The “oh” sound is a great embracing hug of compassion and comfort.

Sculpting the aural words and tones in the visible air with their bodies, the students first look to Seeley for guidance, then begin to make the movements their own.

When the circle is slightly off, or the arms translate the wrong letter sound, classmates are there to self-correct the group, catching each other’s mistakes in order to work back to the ideal form.

“Eurythmy is really a social art,” said Seeley. “When they work together, children can help create the forms, telling each other how to move. It helps them find their way into their bodies, not just in a physical way, but in a spiritual way.”


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