Fairy Tales and a Poem for Eurythmy Below are the texts, music and forms for a number of eurythmy fairy tales and stories. Feel free to use them with credits. The forms are 'first round' versions, later they were amended as needed, either by the director or the eurythmists, but no record was kept of the final outcome.
The Dance of the Planets Here is a translation of Rudolf Steiner's poem, The Dance of the Planets. The translation adheres to the rhythms of the original. Steiner made a 'simple' form for this piece.
The Bremen Town Musicians go West Originally written in verse form for kindergarten this tale was repurposed and performed by the Vancouver Waldorf High School Eurythmy Troupe back in the mid 1980's. Then the setting was converted to the American Wild West and performed by the 2008 graduating students from Rudolf Steiner College eurythmy training. A few years later in 2012 the eurythmists in Portland, OR, were in need of a ready-made tale for 8 at short notice and this one fit the bill. Run time is about 20 mins.
The White Duck Performed by Portland Eurythmy for their 2015 season, this Russian tale is traditional in style but has deep waters which relate, in my opinion, to the future and what Rudolf Steiner called the sixth epoch. Run time is about 20 mins.
Snow White and Rose Red Originally performed by the Vancouver Waldorf High School Eurythmy Troupe in 1987 or so. Fresh music was composed by Liliya Pachuliya in 2009 and the tale performed by the graduating group from Rudolf Steiner College eurythmy training in 2010. Run time about 30 mins.
The Crane Wife A sad, hauntingly beautiful Japanese tale, often performed in puppetry. This was the graduating story of the 2006 Rudolf Steiner College eurythmy training. For 4 eurythmists ... yes, it was tight at times, so 5 or 6 would be better! Run time about 25 mins.
The Being of the Arts For those interested in the spiritual aspects of the arts I have translated Rudolf Steiner's The Being of the Arts. This tale, told in 1909, has lost none of its originality and vividness. It is as relevant and powerful as when it was first told. It presents the reader with a series of images and beings drawn directly from the spiritual world, but in such a way that, through art, a bridge is built between the spiritual and earthly worlds.
Anyone who likes color tales and color poetry might like this chapter from The Midsummer Mouse, in which Tiptoes meets the Sunset Angels. Also, the short story, Lilac lived in Lala Land, might be of interest.
Eurythmists, and those interested in a view of language informed by an anthroposophical view point, might find Adam's Alphabet, interesting. It is a literary journey through the alphabet in imaginative form, touching on the outer and inner aspects of each 'letter-sound'. Even though I have been aware of and have worked with the sounds of speech in eurythmy for decades, I was surprised by what revealed itself when I used the alphabet as the basis of a continuous tale. The alphabet is not at all random ... which eurythmists know, but to see its finer structures! The English alphabet is a little tattered and beaten up from all the various linguistic streams flowing into it, but still, within the tattered coat there is no tramp but a being quite extraordinary.
Click HERE for the new, supplementary chapter to the 2nd edition of Color and Gesture (if you have the first edition).
The second, revised and updated edition of Color and Gesture is now available on Amazon. It has a supplementary chapter in which all amendments and additions are found—see link above for a PDF download for those who already have the first edition. In addition to supplementary material, the second edition contains a number of new eurythmy, tone and acting figures.
Color and Gesture explores the inner life of color in a way that only eurythmy and the initiation science of Rudolf Steiner make possible. What appears is a world of incredible richness, depth and beauty in the most common, unlikely and unexpected of places—gesture. Gesture reveals the human soul, and the fabric of the soul is color; as a result, we find that the souls’ infinite expressiveness, with all its goodness, pathos, waywardness and humor, is intimately woven through with color experiences.
When we approach gesture via color, we discover whole gesture families, with, at times, the most unforeseen of bedfellows. We gain new insights into soul gestures, acting gestures, animal, planetary and zodiac gestures. The underlying eurythmic gestures of speech and music are also explored, and we learn to experience how the color chords underlying gesture are themselves a structured, musically-ordered language.
And when we approach color via gesture, we find inner laws, relationships and dynamics which allow us to gain, via artistic activity, not only a deeper understanding of color as a whole, but also a conscious foothold in the astral and etheric worlds.
Contents include: 51 Chapters plus Overview and Indexes, 250+ Figures and 170+ Haloes.
Subjects covered: Color Dynamics, Rudolf Steiner’s Eurythmy Figures, Soul Gestures, Color Figures, Acting Figures, Animal Gestures, Speech and Music Figures, Eurythmy Exercises, Elements and Ethers, etc.
REVIEW: The following review is by Therese Schroeder-Sheker, founder and academic dean the School of Music-Thanatology. Formally, thanatology is the scientific study of death, investigating the bodily changes that accompany death, as well as the wider social aspects related to death and dying. It is primarily an interdisciplinary study offered as a course at colleges and universities. Therese’s work is centered on playing music for the dying in clinical, hospice and home settings. Her approach is informed by anthroposophy and her work has been the subject of an award winning documentary. This review will appear in the Zoe, the journal for music-thanatology and contemplative musicianship, and Coherence, a professional journal for music therapists, the newsletter of the Eurythmy Association of North America and the Eurythmy Association of Great Britain and Ireland. See www.chaliceofrepose.org for further information on Therese's work, bibliography and discography.
“My highest praise and appreciation go to Reg Down for these quiet, sensitive, lucid and lyrical pages. Color and Gesture presents a series of meditative essays and illustrated explorations on the formative and transformative power of color and gesture, sound and music, body and soul from the perspective of a practicing eurythmist. Surely this represents a life-work, penned by someone who is an artist and philosopher, and who has taken the art of pedagogy seriously. Each section is carefully developed, and reflects the author’s capacity for observation. With rare sensibility he describes interior and exterior phenomena, inner space and outer space. As both participant and observer, his sensitivity toward color, gesture and sound models for all readers a rare balance between the human capacities for thinking, feeling and willing. All three are represented in this work in such a way that they are equally present, interconnected, mutually fructifying, and life-giving. One way of knowing does not eclipse another way of knowing, and his knowing does not eclipse being nor drown out feeling.
We can learn so much from this book, not only for the innate content, accompanied by a sensitive use of language, but also for the model of reflection the author presents. I am not a dancer, nor a eurythmist. I am a contemplative, an artist and a musician-clinician, and long ago promised myself to nourish the capacity to learn from everyone and everything, personally and professionally. It is my hope that representatives from many of the arts and humanities will seek out and learn something profound from Mr. Down’s imaginative work. When he speaks about yellow or violet, incarnation or excarnation, color theory, muscle tension, or major and minor scales, he speaks in such a way that I listen. Although Color and Gesture is implicitly a work about the inner life of color, I can’t help but be struck by the fact that this work also offers a new kind of curriculum in presence-of-being. Reg Down is a master of witnessing. Seeing and hearing are culturally conditioned, and we do not all see or hear in the same way. Most moderns are bombarded with such a surplus of undigested sensory impressions that we can at times become numb with overload, to possibility, to quivering potential, to reality. When we add to this the tendency to function through theory or abstraction, an experiential work of this magnitude lights up as radical and life-giving. To this end, Color and Gesture is a significant work, it helps repair the modern malaise of fragmentation. Whether taking a walk at night in order to gaze at the evening stars and breathe them in, or attending someone suffering with metastatic breast cancer, this book has affected me. I am more beautifully sensitized and prepared to meet the dynamism, subtlety and terrain of health and illness, living and dying, human encounter and relationship with Nature, after spending time with this strong and searching work.”
Therese Schroeder-Sheker, Academic Dean, School of Music-Thanatology
Chalice of Repose Project, www.chaliceofrepose.org
Further Reviews and Commentary
“Reg Down’s Color and Gesture is a monumental work that explores in depth and with beauty the inner life of color as expressed through eurythmy and Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual vision—this is an amazing book!” Nancy Parsons, Waldorf Books, www.waldorfbooks.com
“I love what you have given in the book. It has taken me into a world I found quite inspiring.” Sue Laing, visual artist and educator—from correspondence.
“It is a revelation to just skim through the text, sensing just how carefully, thoroughly and expertly you treat this vast field of human life. For me—and when I say this I fully realize the consequence of what I am saying—this work can stand in our time and into the future, as one of the greatest researches in the evolving understanding of color. I believe it equals and perhaps surpasses in its own way, the great achievements of Goethe in this field since it has potential for application in not only the arts both stage and visual, but for the whole of life in a deeper age of materialism than Goethe’s time.
If eurythmists everywhere pass up the vista of opportunity as here presented, they are missing an opportunity of this lifetime! I hope that this work becomes recognized by generations of eurythmists and by all people genuinely seeking a deepening of their experience of color, as it is the soul of life. Stage artists and visual artists alike can benefit from this. Painters especially could gain in developing a new and strong impulse in figurative painting and sculptors could gain from it for inspiration in creating a mood-filled gestural language in form.” John Stolfo—visual artist, www.artspirit.asia—from correspondence.