Visible Speech. Simbiotics in Eurythmics

Term Paper, 2010

15 Pages, Grade: 1,7




2.Eurythmy and Semiotics
2.1 Connection between movement and word
2.2 Deeper meaning of each sound

3.urythmy as a real language
3.1 Body as voice box
3.2 Grammar
3.3 Speech- and Toneurythmy in use

4.Eurythmy and promotion





What is Eurythmy? Is it a language? Why are people dancing instead of speaking? What kind of semiotic elements are used to make speech visible? Do we understand Eurythmy without knowing anything about it? In this paper those and other question will be tried to explain.

Eurythmy, derived from Greek (eu rythmos = good rhythm) [Grassmann, Lothar] is an expressive movement art also called visible speech.

Eurythmy still is a little explored phenomenon but what is known about it is very interesting for semiotic studies. When we move in daily routine, we do not pay attention to how we use our body. Eurythmists do: the “Art of Soul” [Zanker, Claudia] combines body and soul and visualizes sounds and speech by moving the whole body in space instead of speaking words out loud. Also it “brings the essence of music and language to visible manifestation” [Austin Eurythmie Ensamble].  This is not about doing any arbitrary exercises but more about following strict rules connected to sounds and rhythm of language. What is deep inside while speaking is shown by gestures, what touches the soul by listening to music can be seen by watching people.

Eurythmy was developed by Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner. In cooperation with Marie von Sievers, who decided about the name “Eurythmy”, Steiner created the first motion sequences in 1912 and after a while the whole masterpiece with all its rules and sections.

Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, esoteric and educator. He lived from 1861 till 1925. During his lifetime he founded the anthroposophical ideology (Anthroposophy = human’s wisdom) and the concept of Waldorfschools as well. The first Waldorfschool opened its doors in 1919. In Steiner’s opinion the eurythmical character is to let “the insides move out” so that mind, soul and body work together harmoniously. [Krämer:35]

Today Eurythmy is used in education and therefore obligatory subject in all grades of Waldorfschools. The students learn Eurythmy as a language and also as “Visible Music” [Steiner:Gesang]. There are many different performances of all kinds of music that can be seen worldwide. Every performance is presented in special rooms, some by professional Eurythmists who have completed a five year program at an university. Every actor wears long, wide, and flowing robes.

Furthermore, Eurythmy is used as a kind of movement therapy for any kind of illnesses or children with behavioral problems or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It helps to concentrate and to coordinate movements. In case of illness it strengthens the organism and helps it to heal itself. In Germany health insurances pay for therapeutic Eurythmy.Even in everyday life we are confronted with eurythmical elements without even noticing them.

2. Eurythmy and Semiotics

To elaborate the link of Eurythmy and semiotics it is necessary to regard Eurythmy as language. Eurythmy is not just an art. Arts do not “have ways and agency which come so close to a human being as Eurythmy” [Steiner:Sprache:2]. Since Eurythmy visualizes spoken sounds, and is therefore called “Visible Speech” or “Visible Music”, the term language is implied.

This language consists of different movements which can be seen as different signs. They have to be learned as vocabulary to understand and “speak”. Each thing has its own meaning.

2.1. Connection between movement and word

Although Eurythmy uses the human body as means of expression, it is not a dance. The motions do not appear arbitrary. Eurythmy moves “less expressional limbs” [Steiner:Seele:27] as legs and feet, which move a lot while dancing, only a little bit.

Eurythmy is much more than that. “It is a true sounding or singing through the body as an instrument” [Austin Eurythmie Ensamble]. Eurythmy shows the soul, it shows the feeling we have when we say something. Eurythmy gives every word, every sound its own character. Shapes and motions are not just imitated, they are experienced inside. To say something in eurythmical language means to feel it. Feeling it in a way that “you evoke that, what should be felt, that Eurythmy is a language, a language which one can absolutely understand, if one positions oneself to a natural perception. “ [Steiner:Sprache:52].

Eurythmy looks behind the simple word. Every single word has a deeper meaning and an origin which people do not see by simply saying it.  “Wind, waves and water do not arbitrarily have the “w” at the beginning. This becomes obvious if one translates these words into eurythmical motion.” [Sagvosdkina] If, for example, the English language is translated to eurythmy, one can definitely tell that it has something to do with the “waving ocean” [Steiner:Sprache:55].

Motion is Eurythmy’s heart. Words are built by sounds flowing into each other, that is what it is all about. The “Process of representation, not the statue is the character of sound” [Drambyan], like a lightning that we cannot really draw because it is in motion.

2.2. Deeper meaning of each sound

Like every other language Eurythmy has its own alphabet. Undoubtly different is that every sound has a much deeper meaning than it is usual in common languages. Languages which are popular are spoken languages they connect mouth and ear. Eurythmy instead,connects soul and soul. Let’s picture following situation: a woman sitting at a bar, alone, her legs are crossed. What does this show us? Since the woman is alone she tries to feel at least herself. By crossing the legs she uses the eurythmical “E”.


Excerpt out of 15 pages


Visible Speech. Simbiotics in Eurythmics
University of Kassel
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visible, speech, simbiotics, eurythmics
Quote paper
Melissa Grönebaum (Author), 2010, Visible Speech. Simbiotics in Eurythmics, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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