Gia van den Akker
Berpke van Oers
Wieger: 'From behind our computer and television screens, so many things can be done with ease and simultaneously – but because of the speed and multitude of impressions, we are left with only superficial experiences. The movements of eurhythmy can offer an important and profound counterbalance.’
By the fire in in his living room, which has been decorated in mostly natural materials, Wieger talks frankly about how he succeeded in making a career switch at age 32 and his views on the profundity of eurhythmy.
Can you tell us what your life was like before you discovered eurhythmy?
Wieger: ‘Looking back, I suppose I was a bit of a drifter. It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I realized I could make a difference in the world. When I started looking for a way to make that difference, I got involved with yoga and astrology. I built up my own successful yoga studio and for a long time found a great deal of fulfilment in that. However, by the time I was pushing 30, drinking tea and socializing after classes had come to be more important than the classes themselves. It was becoming ever clearer to me that my classes provided only a temporary relief from tension. It bothered me that I could not provide the people who were taking my classes with something more enduring. I let go of several standard yoga rituals, because I no longer saw the point in them, which was then considered quite revolutionary in the yoga-scene. I called my re-vamped version of yoga “yoga 2000”.
I had also started a family, and my two children were attending an anthroposophy-based school. This Waldorf school is were I first heard about eurhythmy. I was on friendly terms with the children’s eurhythmy teacher and at some point she invited me to come and see a eurhythmy performance. It hit me like lightning: for two hours, I just sat and watched, completely electrified. I could see the way shapes turned into movements, and I was deeply impressed. At that moment, I knew I wanted to study eurhythmy. Not initially to save the world, or to help others – I just had this deep desire to change something in myself. I felt ready to take the next step in my self-development, and that the best way to take that step was to go and study eurhythmy.
When Wieger Veerman saw his very first eurhythmy performance at age 32, he felt as if he had been hit by lightning. Shortly after, he decided to completely turn his life around. He became a eurhythmy teacher, and later a eurhythmy therapist as well. Now, more than twenty years later, Wieger is still passionate about his profession. Wieger: ‘Eurhythmy is becoming increasingly relevant.
An interview with Wieger Veerman
How did you manage finishing another degree course?
‘ We had a house, a mortgage, two children growing up, and I wasn’t eligible for any student grants or aids. All the same, it was clear to me that if I were to study eurhythmy, I would have to remain authentic and true to myself which would mean closing the yoga studio. By implication, we would have very little money to get by for quite some time. In part, I owe it to my wife Gaby that I was able to pursue and eventually finish my eurhythmy studies and I’m immensely grateful to her for that. With the help of the Iona Foundation and monthly donations made by friends and acquaintances we managed to make ends meet. It was a very busy period for my family, and it wasn’t always easy. I rented a room in The Hague and became a weekend dad. During holiday periods, I worked temp jobs in regular health care, which had been my previous career. But it wasn’t until my second year work placement at a Waldorf School, which I enjoyed immensely, that I became certain that this was what I wanted to do professionally. After five years, when I was 39, I graduated with a qualification for teaching dance eurhythmy.’
After graduating, what did you do?
‘I found a job as a eurhythmy teacher at the Bussum Waldorf School. I was in my element and worked there for seven years. In addition, I took up teaching adults again, teaching eurhythmy this time. Many of my former yoga students made the transition from yoga to eurhythmy with me. Looking back, that feels very special.
At some point I enrolled in a part-time continuation course open to dance eurhythmy graduates, in order to become a eurhythmy therapist. I loved the idea of being able to help both adults and children in my own practice. Once I finished that course, at the age of 48, I started my own eurhythmy practice. And from day one, I knew: now I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do.’
What type of problems do you see in people who come to you?
‘People come to me with all kinds of problems. Over the years, I’ve been able to specialize in several areas, namely dyslexia, eyes and vision, high sensitivity and orthodontics. For instance, it is truly amazing what specific arm and leg movements can do to change and adjust dental development. Such changes are easier to achieve in children than in adults, and in some cases braces, which forcefully interfere with a child’s development, can be completely avoided.
In my practice, I see many so-called highly sensitive adults and children. There is much I can do to help them using eurhythmy therapy. I regularly treat adults with what are known as constitutional treatments, which come down to a kind of inner education and harmonization, often spread over a few periods per year, each period containing 7-8 treatments. I frequently work with people for several years and it is impressive to see how they grow.’
Can you describe your current professional life?
‘Two days a week, I work at the Deventer Waldorf School, and I have a private practice, in which I work for two days a week. Finally, one day a week I teach amateur eurhythmy courses to adults, something I’ve been doing for years. My goal is to make what I call artistic-hygienic eurhythmy accessible to everyone. People who take my courses are immersed in a nurturing artistic bath. In addition, I call it hygienic eurhythmy because eurhythmy can be used to ‘clean’ your inner self, helping you become more balanced. My courses provide people with more awareness of their bodies and the processes of life taking place inside. The groups are always full and have been for years; there is even a waiting list of several months. I enjoy the variety that comes from classroom education at the Waldorf school on the one hand, and the individual therapeutic work in my practice on the other. Switching between the two is very refreshing, it’s what keeps me awake and alert.’
Can you describe what you believe is the value of eurhythmy?
‘Rudolf Steiner envisioned what people in the 20th and 21st century would need, and in that sense, he was a genius for providing us with eurhythmy in today’s world. In a way, eurhythmy is the perfect answer to all developments human beings are experiencing in what I call this ‘shallow age of computers’. My profession gives me the opportunity to let people experience the difference between staring at a screen or doing eurhythmy. To provide a counterbalance for their current ‘multitasking’, during which people are entirely outward-focused, I have people do multiple things at once, too. For example, I will have them walk a particular rhythm, do something with their arms and simultaneously add a quality of movement. On top of that, I will ask them to describe their sensory perceptions. This can lead to a profound physical experience, which can in turn have a healing effect. To me, it is a daily challenge to stop and think about the relevance of eurhythmy in our fast, virtual world. When children ask me why eurhythmy is good for you, I often tell them: gymnastics makes you strong on the outside, eurhythmy makes you strong on the inside.’
After obtaining his BA degree, Wieger Veerman went on to complete the part-time Eurhythmy therapist course. Find out more about this course here: www.euritmietherapie.nl
Text: Petra Essink
Photography: Hapé Smeele