This month, we are in Chestnut Ridge, NY, which is home to a vibrant community built around the teachings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, founder of the international Anthroposophical Society.
To my knowledge, there is no other community quite like this in North America. Founded in the 1920s, the Threefold Community includes a biodynamic farming training center, a school of eurythmy, an assisted living home, a large Waldorf school, a Waldorf teacher training center, a Waldorf toys and bookshop, a swimming pond, the Threefold Education Center and auditorium and more. All the centers are basically along the beautiful wooded Hungry Hollow Road. The stated goal of Threefold is to promote spiritual values in the arts, education and community life.
What makes it more interesting is it’s this peaceful oasis surrounded by the urban craziness of the Northeast. It’s just 45 minutes away from New York City and right by malls of every kind, packed highways and some blight.
I got to meet some of the wonderful residents recently when I answered a call on Facebook for help Lazure painting the School of Eurythmy. Eurythmy is an an art that combines movement, form and language. It looks to my untrained eyes a bit like modern dance. Lazure painting, yet another interesting art inspired by Steiner is a technique of painting in which you make brush strokes in the formof a figure 8. The effect is a room that gives the feeling of a lot of motion through the paint. It looks to me like floating clouds. Waldorf school classrooms are painted in this style.
The women I met at the school (they were all women) were very friendly. They were from many parts of the world including Australia, Taiwan and different parts of America. I learned that this School of Eurythmy is the biggest English language school in the world. Elsa, one of the teachers, helpfully started showing me some of the basics of mixing paint in the Lazure painting process. We weren’t able to finish but I hope we pick up our conversation later.
I got to tour their building, which included a small library and beautiful cut-out figures showing different eurythymy gestures. Eurythmy is incorporated in many contexts. It can be performed on a stage (I hope to see a show later this month) and used for therapeutic purposes to help children and adults with a variety of health concerns. I hope to learn a lot more about eurythmy while I’m here.