How does a Dalcroze clinician put a room full of DSA National Conference attendees completely at ease while also asking them to take risks? Watch as master eurhythmics teacher Annabelle Joseph shows us how it’s done. Nearly the whole roster of conference attendees was there—and most of us had never met. Yet in short order we were fully engaged in the business at hand, which was first and foremost to become a learning community.

Annabelle’s unpretentious manner invited us to let down our guard, take a few risks, make a few mistakes, and laugh at our initial awkwardness. Her patience enabled us to move though that initial awkward phase to one marked by greater mastery of the skills required, and greater open-heartedness toward one another as we revealed our human frailty. 

Excerpt: “Exploring Phrase Length” with Dr. Annabelle Joseph

The opening exercise is a quick reaction game disguised as an icebreaker (hence the title). In doing the “grand right and left” activity that ensued we embodied the gradual weaving together of our individual strands into the fabric of our emergent community. The “Westminster Chimes” game asked us to embody the measurement of time and pulsation with the body. By the time we got to the classic Dalcroze exercise at the end of the session, Annabelle had cognitively primed us not only to listen to phrase length, but to actualize it in our physical gestures. 

She makes it look easy, because of the ease with which she disarms us. But it takes years of experience to accomplish all that Annabelle did in this session.

The entire class, over an hour long, can be viewed in the DSA Video Library.

You can go deeper with our lesson Study Guide, which outlines what Dr. Joseph expertly does. It also includes a transcription of the “6/8 Etude” heard in the excerpt above.


Members of the Dalcroze Society of America can watch this video and dozens more in the Video Library. Not a member? Join instantly online.

About Alex Marthaler

Alex Marthaler is a composer, pianist, and educator in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a pianist for modern dance and ballet classes at Point Park University and Carnegie Mellon University. Alex also teaches children's musical storytelling and improvisation classes.