‘Visible speech’ is the most accurate and pliant definition of eurythmy as it manifests in connection with language. All that human beings convey audibly when they speak – sense, feeling, syntax, rhythm, the sounds of vowels and consonants – they can also make visible through eurythmy.
This is possible because the entire bodily and psychological constitution of the human being provides an articulate and expressive instrument for the act of speaking. The complex of organs we normally employ to speak (larynx, lung, ear, etc) make speech audible, but eurythmy is able to coax out of slumber the ability to speak (and listen) that is dormant in our entire bodily and psychological constitution. The result is a language of movement in which every vowel and consonant has a basic gesture, and there are choreographic and gestural principles to show the structural elements of language like grammar, verse or metre, and the psychological ‘drivers’ of thought, feeling, action, etc. All these elements allow for endless contextual variations, making eurythmy an art with inexhaustible possibilities.
Is all language worth speaking and is all speech worth making visible? An instruction manual or a menu would not be the first choice of the eurythmist, unless for its humorous possibilities. For the purposes of eurythmy performance (and eurythmy was developed initially as a performance art), narrative, drama and above all poetry are all sister arts that invite collaboration with and expression through eurythmy. But eurythmists cannot fully realise the potential of ‘visible speech’ until they enter into collaboration with colleagues trained in the arts of recitation and declamation based on the same anthroposophical insights, practice and research. Together, the eurythmist and speech artist have the possibility of co-creating a synthesized visible-audible speech.
One does not need to become a performance artist to engage with eurythmy. Under the guidance of a good teacher, anyone can begin to wake up these latent capacities within themselves and start to work creatively with the inner Word. The benefits to physical and psychological health of regular eurythmy work include harmonised breath and circulation, greater powers of concentration, enhanced dexterity and co-ordination and psychological equanimity.