Combining dialogue, movement and music to create a World Rhythmics Café®

Posted by & filed under Allgemein, European Voices for Active Ageing (EVAA), World Café Europe in general, World Rhythmics Café®.

Rhythmics + Hellerau

We just came back from Dresden (Germany) where the Rhythmics movement blossomed more than a 100 years ago. It was in the Hellerau Festival Theatre where Émil Jaques-Dalcroze  realized his vision to develop a ‚method to learn and experience music through movement‘.


Hellerau Festival Theatre

World Café + Rhythmics

World Café Europe’s first encounter with rhythmics and the Hellerau tradition was over 5 years ago. We were searching for a way to foster a feeling of collective spirit among the participants of the 1st World Café European Gathering which was going to be held in Dresden. Our inquires brought us to the Carl Maria von Weber Music Conservatory where we spoke with its director at the time, Prof. Dr. Stefan Gies. We had originally thought that a variation of voices like a choir might be the appropriate approach. „A choir is too hierarchical“ he initially said to us.  „I think that rhythmics might offer you just what you are looking for“. Prof. Dr. Gies introduced us to Christine Straumer, Professor for Rhythmics-Elementary Music Education  and Johannes Bönig, a docent for Body Awareness and Movement Improvisation both at the Music Conservatory. After listening to our ideas about integrating dialogue, movement and music inspired by the World Café, Christine and Johannes introduced us to rhythmics movement. We have been working together and experimenting with this conceptual approach  – what we have named the World Rhythmics Café® – ever since.

For the debut of our first version of a World Rhytmics Café®, we went back to the roots of the rhythmics movement. What an inspiring expereince it was to hold our  Body-Mind Café  in one of the practice rooms of the Hellerau Festival Hall!  It was here that our vision to hold a dialogue –  in the spirit of the World Café –  and integrate it with movement and music –  inspired by the rhythmics movement –  took on its initial form.

World Rhythmics Café

The development of the World Rhythmics Café® has continued in close collaboration with the International Rhythmics Workshop Dalcroze.  This yearly workshop serves as a platform to experiment with new approaches. Beginning in 2009, World Café Europe has cooperated with Christine Straumer and Johannes Bönig to create a series of World Rhythmics Cafés®, each on a new theme. For the 1ooth anniversary of the laying of the foundation of the Hellerau Festival Theatre,  a World Rhythmics Café called the „Wisdom of the Body“ ( World Rhythmics Café August 2011 Final ) was held. The artist Alexander Naumann from Dresden developed an complementary artistic concept. It provided a platform for the ‘collective intelligence’ of the participants to become visible through the creation of a unique artwork inspired by the Q2 codes.

q2 code WRC 2011  -

In 2012, the European Voices for Active Ageing project enabled World Café Europe to bring the World Rhythmics Café® to Strasbourg (France). With the Cercle des Seniors Actifs (Paris) and CREPS Strasbourg as partners, a concept was developed for „Maintain your Élan! – A World Rhytmics Caf鮓. Held in a gymnasium in the CREPS Strasbourg facilities,  this event was developed especially for adults aged 50+ to promote health through combined activities of verbal communication (World Café dialogue), music, physical movement and the senses. The World Rhythmics Café team together with Cercle des Seniors Actifs  formulated three goals for this World Rhythmics Café:

  • Break stereotypes about movement after the age of 50
  • Shift the mental model about movement after the age of 50 which is tolerant and demanding
    at the same time
  • Use the World Rhythmics Café  as a way to create social connections between the participants

Both the participant feedback, interviews and evaluation results confirm that the World Rhythmics Café® successfully addressed all the  established goals for this experience.

The question now is:  What’s next?

World Café Europe plans to build on the success of the EVAA Strasbourg World Rhythmics Café.  We returned to Dresden, where our journey began over 5 years ago, to plan the next development phase of the World Rhythmics Café®. World Café Europe will be using Dresden as a center for our on-going development efforts. We aim to deepen our experience with this approach to foster wellness in adults aged 50+.  Together with our Dresden-based partners, we hope to make this experience available to adults aged 50+ on a regular basis – first in Dresden and then in other locations. In addition, World Café Europe wants to continue our dedication to fostering “Best Practice“ by designing an accreditation course for the design and moderation of a World Rhythmics Café®. Together with Christine Straumer (Rhythmics Professor and Pianist), Johannes Bönig (Choreographer) and Harald Schluttig (videographer), World Café Europe will be working to realize this vision. A kick-off World Rhythmics Café is tentatively scheduled in Dresden for September 2013. Keep posted! Up-dates will be shared in our blog on an on-going basis.

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