What is Dalcroze Eurhythmics?
Most of my readers on seeing this word “eurhythmics” may think of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of the most famous pop group of the same name. My reference point, though, is the same as Annie Lennox who named the group after the movement technique she learned in school.
Expressed succinctly eurhythmics (sometimes spelled as eurhythmics) can be defined as “harmonious bodily movement as a form of artistic expression – specifically, the Dalcroze system of musical education in which bodily movements are used to represent musical rhythms.”
Eurhythmics was developed around 1905 by a Swiss musician called Emile Jaques-Dalcroze. He was a Professor of Harmony at the Geneva Conservatory. He felt that the conventional way of training professional musicians was very unsatisfactory. He was looking for a way to improve his student’s musical abilities through increasing their sensitivity to rhythm and through this he hoped to enable them to bring deeper personal interpretations to the music they played. He believed that this would enable students to experience music at a more visceral level.
His method was founded on rhythmic movements of the body, ear training, and voice or instrumental improvisations. All exercises were designed to develop deeper powers of concentration and fast, physical responses. The motivation and inspiration for the movement are the rhythms of the music.
Benefits of Taking Dalcroze Eurhythmics Classes
The Dalcroze method includes three main elements learnt in the class. The first is Eurythmics that helps learners to express their attitudes of the music with own bodies. It also advocates increasing rhythmic perception in class.
The second part is solfege that maintains learner’s pitch and also tonality as they sing together in the classroom.
The third and final component is improvising, Dalcroze class encourages students to find meaning in harmony by spontaneous creation.
Dalcroze classes are originally aimed towards producing actors, musicians, and dancers. The elevated musical, bodily, and improvisational expression that emerged from the classes was designed to improve artists’ production.
In Dalcroze’s system time is shown by movements of the arms and time duration (note values) by movements of the feet and body. For example, a quarter note is shown by a single step. The teacher would play one or two bars of music which the student then actively performed as movements while the teacher played the next two bars. So the student has to listen to a new rhythm while performing the one already heard. These exercises required and helped to develop the students’ concentration. Some of his exercises were deceptively simple.
Jaques-Dalcroze first applied his new method to children in elementary schools.Young children are so delightfully open to trying new things without preconceived ideas. The activity just needs to hold their attention. After this, in 1910 he set-up an institute near Dresden and a Central School was later established in Geneva. To-day there are institutes of eurhythmics in London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and New York City. The method is taught in schools throughout Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
Jacques-Dalcroze considered the rhythmic movements in eurhythmics to be a form of musical education. As much as he was concerned, they were not an end in themselves or a form of dance. Nevertheless, his methods were an important influence on 20th-century theatrical dance, especially in European and American modern dance.
To early modern dancers, eurhythmics were considered to be an alternative, balletic choreographic technique. Ruth St. Denis used rhythmic principles in her work. Mary Wigman and Doris Humphrey turned their backs on musically influenced choreography and developed new forms of pure dance.
In the word of ballet, Sergei Diaghilev was one of the first people to become interested in the Dalcroze system, and Nijinsky’s revolutionary “The Rite of Spring” choreographed in 1913 for Diaghilev’s company shows strong eurhythmic influences. Marie Rambert and Hanya Holm were pupils of Jaques-Dalcroze, and through them and others, contemporary ballet and theater dance have been influenced by Eurhythmics.
Keep reading: “4 Vocal Techniques To A Better Voice”>>