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Artists make music Visible
article originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee

Using their bodies to interpret the music, four women move across the hardwood floor of the performance hall at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks as a pianist plays the prelude from the "Suite Bergamasque" by Claude Debussy.

The women, wearing colorful flowing garments, are rehearsing an art form called eurythmy that is designed to make music visible.

Eurythmists spend four years studying the art, training themselves to listen to what the composer was saying, not what the music evokes in them, said Cynthia Hoven of Fair Oaks.

"The inspiration behind it was to add a new dimension to poetry and music," Hoven said. "The training involves how to listen to music and poetry intensively."

Hoven, a teacher at the college, rehearses with Annie Frouws of Fair Oaks; Linda Dobranowski of Rancho Cordova, a teacher at the Sacramento Waldorf Elementary School in Fair Oaks; and Nanci Danilov, a native of Brazil who moved to the area in December.

The four will perform at the open house and weekend Festival of the Visual and Performing Arts from Nov. 9-11 at the college, 9200 Fair Oaks Blvd.

A public performance, "Autumnal Changes: An Evening Performance of Eurythmy, Music and Poetry," is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10. The cost is $12. The performers also will give a free demonstration of the art form at 2:45 p.m. Nov. 11.

According to biographical information on Rudolf Steiner, eurythmy was developed in 1912 when the Austrian-born artist, philosopher and scientist gave a private lesson to a student named Lori Smits. In 1915, Steiner taught a course on eurythmy to a group of students. The same year, eurythmy began as a stage art in Switzerland.

Eurythmy is a part of Waldorf education. The kindergartners through eighth-graders at the Sacramento Waldorf Elementary School work with a eurythmist once or twice a week, said Frouws, who taught at the school for seven years.

Because live music has tones and nuances that become lost in recordings, Danilov said eurythmists perform with a musician.

"With a tape recorder, you always hear the same thing," she said. "We are trying to work in the opposite direction."

The women perform with a pianist, Noriko Meguro of Fair Oaks.

"The most fun is when you have enough instruments," Hoven said. "The best is done to a full orchestra. The weaving that happens on stage is so exciting."

The four also move to the poetry readings. Such a performance requires someone who is able to recite well, Hoven said.

"In our training, we learn to lift language into movement," said Frouws, who studied the art in New York. "We also have people who are trained for speaking."

Poetry uses words to convey feeling and meaning, but Hoven said there is more movement in poetry than most people realize.

"A poet has a lot of movement in thought when they come to write the poem," she said.

Frouws contends that eurythmy can help dyslexic children with spatial orientation.

With age-appropriate material, eurythmists help children to move together, she said.

"Children have a natural enthusiasm to move together," Frouws said. "Eurythmy brings versatility and inner harmony. It fosters healthy breathing and strengthens posture and agility."

Advanced training in eurythmy is available for those who wish to work in therapeutic eurythmy. Hoven said she trained in Europe and worked for seven years with a physician to help patients with digestive disorders, breathing difficulties and problems with movement.

Marsha Hart can be reached at (916) 348-2746 or .

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"Seek the truly practical life, but seek it in such a way that it does not blind you to the spirit working in it. Seek the spirit, but seek it not out of spiritual greed, but so that you may apply it in the genuinely practical life." -- Rudolf Steiner