The Face behind the Front Door: De Zalen

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This time I visited Elsemarie ten Brink (artistic director) and Franziska Knetsch (PR staff member) at “De Zalen”, a new cultural centre, since October 2014 residing in the beautiful building Riouwstraat 1. Martina Wouters, responsible for the internal coordination, was present at the reception desk. Franziska had asked us to bring De Zalen to the attention of the public by means of a publication on the website. Of course it was my pleasure to comply with this request. In spite of active flyering and publication of the agenda the new cultural centre De Zalen is not yet known to all residents of our neighbourhood.

Many  students of eurythmy studied at De Zalen, the former Eurythmy Academy. In 1969 Werner Barfod brought the eurythmy training in The Hague to prosperity in the building that before that time had housed Anthroposophical activities and the national library of the Anthroposophical Society. The number of students steadily increased and thanks to financial donations new rooms could be added to the building. However, in April 2014 the Eurythmy Academy moved to the Hogeschool Leiden.

The Eurythmy Foundation, the owner of the building, decided to make an all-out effort to give eurythmy in the building a new impulse and open the halls to cooperation with other forms of art. For instance, children of Russian and English schools for music study here on a weekly basis and they also perform here.

De Zalen (the name means The Halls) is a complex of four larger and two smaller halls, suitable for concerts, courses and exhibitions. A number of the activities that took place in De Vredeskapel before it had to be closed down have moved to De Zalen. The halls and rooms can also be rented for a part of the day, for meetings and other activities.

On Tuesday a course of Eurythmy for Elderly People (some participants are 94 years old!) is given and on Friday mornings Elsemarie gives the course “Vitaal in De Zalen” (Vitality in De Zalen). And there is a special  course for children between 4 and 13 years old.

Eurythmy (the word means beautiful or harmonious movement) is a form of expressive dance that came into being at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany and Switzerland in the circles around Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophy. “Eurythmy still is the beating heart of De Zalen”, says Elsemarie. Some of the rooms are fitted out with a special (floating) wooden floor that makes dancing easier. Eurythmy makes visible what lives “behind” the music and the language. Both Elsemarie and Franziska have completed the 4 years HBO training for Eurythmist.

“Our vitality is endangered,” says Elsemarie. “Hurry, stress and burnout are the order of the day. Many people can hardly quiet down and the don’t sleep long enough. With eurythmy the energy streams more freely, the nerves calm down. After doing the exercises you notice the result and you continue your life with fresh energy.”On the ground floor is a (fully renovated) lounge that can be hired for parties and receptions. The “Meisjes van Spijs” (“The Food Girls”) serve the visitors with their biological catering.

Do you want to know more about the programme of activities, or are you looking for a suitable room or for a meeting or a celebration? For all information you can go to the website  www.dezalen.nl

25 May 2015, Josephine de Vijlder (MM)