Pacifica College of Eurythmy: Update

Greetings from all of us here at Pacifica College,

We are now halfway through our second year of operation, well time to share an update on developments and activities in 2020, and there have been quite a few!

Opening our new studio

Our studio next door

The year began with a celebration in a lovely studio on the property adjoining our host, Samford Valley Steiner School. The house, with its beautiful five acre grounds, was bought last year by four individuals who are also warm supporters of Pacifica and offered the space so we could accommodate a second intake of students. Chris Jack, Chair of the SEA- board, was our guest along with old and new friends, as we welcomed our six returning (Alpha course) students, and six beginners (Beta course), a total of nine women and three men.

At the time of writing, two further students will join the Beta course in July bringing the total to 14, and enquiries continue to come in a steady trickle.

Termites

Speech and drama with Nicole Ostini

In late January a significant termite infestation was discovered in two classrooms at SVSS, which meant the eurythmy room suddenly needed to accommodate class four for one term so we were very glad to have the studio ready for use. The school kindly let us work in their hall in the meantime and to our great relief the training could continue uninterrupted.

Then COVID 19 struck…

At the end of term one lockdown was declared and distancing formalised, but we just managed to fit in a legal student presentation that was attended by a widely spaced group of staff and have tutor Sue Simpson return safely to NZ where she nevertheless had to sit out two weeks in isolation.

Against all odds we were legitimately able to start second term as planned. Under QLD COVID19 rulings education institutions unable to work online were entitled to continue operations. SVSS confirmed with Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) that there was no issue for the school, and with the college’s full approval, we got straight back to work at the end of April. Happily, eurythmy is a non-contact art form, so keeping our distance has not been so hard!

COVID conditions mean we have been unable to offer work in the classroom with SVSS children for the last months, a practice we will resume as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Working with SEA

By way of building connections with the wide community of Steiner schools, and to share a picture of our work we had been invited to present Pacifica at a meeting of all Steiner schools’ delegates in March, and to prepare a presentation and performance for the Governance and Leadership conference (GLaM) in May. Both events were cancelled as the country ground to a halt, but there will be other opportunities into the future. A Eurythmy mandate group has been established with SEA to continue working on pathways for improving the status and reach of eurythmy in schools and beyond.

Where we are now

Last week we finished second term with very successful presentations to limited size groups of children (2x class one; class 11; class 12) and a small gathering of school staff and friends. It was a proud moment having twelve students show their work, and really great for both groups to witness- and be inspired by- each other. The Alpha students themselves introduced and spoke to their performance for year twelve. The impact was significant. Teachers and school students alike could see the reality of eurythmy- and grasp its role in education in a way that had not been so powerful before. As a consequence, teachers and college are now pushing even harder to have eurythmy in the classroom again- at ALL levels- as soon as possible. It seems we will soon do ourselves out of a home at the school for the most excellent of reasons! People commented on the visible differences in capacity between the first and second year groups, and for us it was reassuring to see convincing evidence of the work that has been done in the last twelve months.

In the garden

Garden preparation with Peter Kearney

The final month of term saw the establishment of a Pacifica food garden below the studio. Local BD gardener, Peter Kearney led the exercise which has been enthusiastically taken up by students. We see it as a hands-on way of experiencing the vital forces at work in nature that are metamorphosed into movement in this still fledgling art form. In a pragmatic sense we hope eventually to also have abundant Bio dynamic produce to share.

The tutors

L-R: Diane Tatum, Liz Nevieve, Patries Orange, Sue Simpson, Jan Baker-Finch, Josefin Porteous (missing: Elien Hoffmans)

Establishing the college with an association of 7 +1 of whom 5 are currently teaching has proven to be a smart move. Always having 2 teaching concurrently builds collegiality, gives students exposure to diverse styles and approaches, and adds an extra level of flexibility. We can easily reshuffle blocks when (for eg) tutors who would have been coming from New Zealand are unable to fly.

It is sometimes challenging coming to consensus between the seven strong minded individuals on our management group, but our greater determination is to succeed together. Eurythmy IS a social art after all!

We are also extremely lucky to have excellent colleagues teaching form-drawing, music, theory, speech and drama, choir, and it is good to see the students’ knowledge and capacities developing in all these areas.

Looking ahead

A big task recently was the preparation and submission of an application to the national Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO) which will allow us to attain Deductible Gift Recipiency status. In the process we sharpened our Pacifica vision, and wrote a new business plan that aligned with that vision more tightly. Once we have DGR status, we will be able to lift our fund-raising activity to another level. Patronage is essential for the college to remain viable while keeping fees modest for our full-time students who receive no government support and must also work to put food on the table.

There will be no intake of students in 2021 but we will use that year to consolidate, and to build or buy a further teaching space. Ambitious plans!

Once borders are open, if you are ever in Brisbane and want to visit, please let us know. We welcome guests, and seeing the work really brings home the future potential of eurythmy as a source of vitality in the education, therapy and arts domains.

Jan Baker-Finch, June 2020

Main photo: Presentation Term two 2020
Back row: Jan Baker-Finch, Linda Richter (pianist), Beatriz Brandao, Nicole Schnetzer, Ty Hungerford, Neish Kyle, Alexander Carlatti, Lesley Heap, Pep Wright, Josefin Porteous, Alexander Heap
Seated: Patries Orange, Melissa Streatfield, Brianna Kairl, Micala Campbell, Sally Davison

Jun 2020