Formation of the Association for Bothmer Gymnastics in the Americas
The high point of the work in the course "Bothmer in the Schools" in July 2016 was the official founding of an association that will be the legal owner of the Bothmer® and Bothmer Gymnastics® trademarks here in North America.
Michael Neu, senior representative for Bothmer Gymnastics Trainings in Germany, was present as one of the witnesses to this decision of Jaimen McMillan’s, to ensure that this very important impulse will be given the legal protection and support it will need to move forward in a healthy way here in North America.
History of Bothmer Gymnastics
From "Waldorf Today", Issue 27, reporting on a Movement Educator Conference
“Enjoy your work with the children!” were the indications and words of encouragement given to Fritz Graf von Bothmer by Rudolf Steiner as Bothmer embarked on his new career teaching the physical education lessons to the students in the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany. Through his experiences and observation of the students’ movements and physical development through the various ages and stages, he developed a series of exercises that would become known as “Bothmer Gymnastics”.
This impulse was nurtured after his death by a small group of dedicated individuals. In 1980, Alheidis von Bothmer and Jaimen McMillan founded the Graf Bothmer Schule für Gymnastik, e.V. in Stuttgart, Germany, which they co-directed for over twenty years. The fact that Bothmer Gymnastics is alive and well today is due largely to the timely action and long-time dedication of these founders.
This summer (July 15‐18, 2016) was the 24th annual Waldorf Movement Educator’s Conference offered by the Spacial Dynamics Institute, at its headquarters in Mechanicville, New York. Two masters of Bothmer Gymnastics, Michael Neu, director of the Bothmer Training at the Teacher Seminar in Stuttgart, and Jaimen McMillan, director of the Spacial Dynamics Institute in New York, guided and inspired a group of over 35 participants from 10 different countries in a deepening and broadening experience of Bothmer Gymnastics®.
The participants benefited from McMillan’s and Neu’s combined 75 years of uninterrupted teaching Bothmer to children and adults. This year’s theme was entitled “Bothmer Gymnastics in the Schools.” Participants young and not so young, with a range of experience from introductory, to many years of practice, benefited from vibrant teaching methods and the impressive demonstrations of these archetypal exercises throughout the course of the conference.
Nuances and key elements of each exercise were explored through the imaginative and creative approach given by the instructors. There were four qualities that were focused on and explored in each of the exercises:
1. Maintaining “the cross” in each exercise, with regards to the intersection and correlation of the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes.
2. Initiating the movement of each exercise from just beyond the fingertips, then connecting the segmented chain of movement from the periphery through to the physical core
3. Observing and consciously accenting the “parallel” relationships and moments in the exercises as well as,
4. Developing an enhanced awareness of the “diagonal” relationships in the exercises that support the movement and bring a greater sense of balance, power, stability, and connection.
Alongside hours of intensive practice and instruction each day, there were also discussion and question and answer sessions that were both lively and relevant to our understanding of the development and application of Bothmer Gymnastics in the Waldorf Schools.
As a part of the review on the last evening, Jaimen and Michael demonstrated one exercise after another, by request from the participants. The rhythm, timing, and precision of each exercise were clearly, masterfully, and harmoniously executed several times from different angles for our benefit.
Following the closing of the conference a small group of individuals of dedicated teachers came together for the spiritual founding of an organization to be known as the “Association for Bothmer Gymnastics in America” to support and carry this significant work into the future on the North American continent.
Bothmer Gymnastics/ Movement Educator Conference
By Will Crane
Will Crane taught Movement Education at Green Meadow Waldorf School for 30 years.