Bothmer News

 06 February 2021

Dear Bothmer Gymnast,

Happy New Year!

The trustees
Happy Birthday!
For the 21st anniversary of the founding of the international Bothmer association, February 6, 2000
In 1998, during the time when the Bothmer School was still in full operation and offered further training and refresher courses for the postgraduate Bothmer students once or twice a year, a small group of people got together. These people were deliberating, whether—21 years after the first official full time training started at the Graf Bothmer School (1977)—the community of the postgraduate students has grown strong enough (adult enough) for establishing a new form of working together and organizing the postgrad training courses and meetings themselves, on a larger scale.
There were different ideas why such an organisation would be important, but it was clear, that creating a formation that would bring the different Bothmer training centres together, thus offering a platform for international communication, research and training, was a structure that appealed to everyone. This initiative then resulted in a small group of people meeting regularly and pursuing these ideas further, with the idea of ​​founding an association in which these interests and concerns would find a home.
As the goals and ideas of this new association became clearer, a first draft of the statute was drawn up, which would offer the framework for a free international co-operation. This led to the launching of the "International Professional Association for Bothmer Gymnastics and Spacial Dynamics e.V." on February 6, 2000 , at the inaugural meeting. Over the next few years, the work, the directions and the interest of the association became more precise and soon enough it was clear that it makes more sense to separate the two movement streams. From that point on the association was called "International Professional Association for Bothmer Gymnastics e.V." The trustees in this first phase were: Stephan Thilo, Angela Schoen, Soledad Piacenza and Alfred Röhm. Hardly was this step completed, it was announced that the Graf Bothmer School would close, but the courses, which were still running, would be completed externally. With this announcement, the only full-time Bothmer training centre in the world has closed its doors. Naturally, the question arose as to how training in Bothmer gymnastics would be possible in the future. Trying to find the answer to this question resulted in a long process of intensive exchanges and consultations. It seemed sensible to address the questions of research, community building as well as the question of training possibilities in a larger, international circle. There were an infinite number of unanswered questions about how gymnastics should be represented in the world, with regard to its individual developments in different countries and continents; where Bothmer Gymnastics stands in terms of spiritual and physical content, which forms of international cooperation one should be aiming for and which tasks the newly started millennium presents to Bothmer Gymnastics. Based on this impulse, the decision was born, to organise an international conference at the place, where the spirit of gymnastics incarnated for the first time: at the Free Waldorf School of Uhlandshöhe in Stuttgart, Count von Bothmer’s work place. After an intensive preparation time, the International Bothmer Conference of 2002 was held in Stuttgart.
Looking back at these events, the timing of it is rather interesting. It was 21 years after the opening of the school, that the student-body took the initiative and formed a “social-body”: so to say the student body became grown-up and got onto its on feet. This social organisation has then established itself as the continuity of the Bothmer impulse in Germany and at the same time took on the question of the meaning, validity and internationality of the gymnastics, which resulted in a new form of working together. Now, 21 years after the founding of the association, we are looking at an unbelievable process of transformation again.
This organisation, which over the past 16 years came to be known as Bothmer Movement International with courses in many different countries, faces challenges and difficulties, just like many other areas of life in this pandemic-overshadowed time. The question of developing new paths and having new ideas is more relevant than ever. While looking for new ways, we need to consider of course, what is needed and which new impulses are appropriate at this time and for the future; which developing forms of collaboration and cooperation are possible. And of course, which ideas and impulses the international postgraduate community—which is now grown up, as we just turned 21—will take on in the world. A group from England, for example, set up new ways of working together, doing Bothmer and exchanging ideas online ( What was a family before, will become a profession; what was a community of people brought together by fate, can become an association of members who join out of free will. It is precisely at this time that the preparations for the centenary of Bothmer gymnastics coming in the summer of 2022 are taking place. I think we are all more than curious about the impulses, encounters and new initiatives that will develop in this unusual time. We are in an exciting situation that urges us to find new ways in the intellectual, social and economic areas.
We wish the association, which has been continuously working for 21 years and is now called "Bothmer movement international e.V.", a sparkling, warmth- and  enthusiasm filled birthday, infused  by mutual appreciation!
Let's celebrate!
Stephan Thilo

The international Bothmer gymnastics conference 2002 in Stuttgart

 The beginning of the 21st century marked a turning point in the history of Bothmer gymnastics. Following the closure of the Graf Bothmer School in Stuttgart, several existential questions arose, considering and determining the place and the future of Bothmer gymnastics.
Therefore the international professional association in 2002 organized a big international Bothmer gymnastics conference. This conference was a part of the search for answers. Thus, the consciously chosen location was the gymnasium of the first Waldorf School of the world, the very place where Fritz Graf von Bothmer developed the gymnastics. The conference turned out to be a large international meeting with over 200 participants. In addition to the huge number of participants, some lectures had almost as many guests as visiting listeners.
The conference offered many practice- and working- groups, plenary discussions, a performance by pupils[1], lectures and, in the evening, spontaneous discussion groups as well as of course, a lot of dancing. This was all made possible thanks to the incredible commitment of a small preparatory group of Bothmer gymnasts, who tirelessly considered all intellectual, spiritual, political, international and of course, the organisational aspects of the event and worked for over a year in order to make it happen. It was an enormous effort.
Since it was the first time that participants from all over Europe, the USA and South America met in a joint conference, exclusively for Bothmer gymnastics, the joy and energy was accordingly great[2]. Former Bothmer students met again, after not seeing each other for  many years, or had the chance to meet their teachers again for example Alheidis von Bothmer and Jaimen McMillan. It also opened our eyes and broadened our horizon, as like-minded people from Denmark, Italy, England, France, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, Russia and Brazil unexpectedly came together and met for the very first time. But it was more than just first encounters. Often a “first time” meeting is infused by a kind of magical energy and this was clearly noticeable over the whole weekend we spent together.
I still remember vividly that many postgrads attended gymnastics sessions taught by someone they haven’t encountered before. It was precisely this act of consciously creating a distance to one’s own familiar habits, which helped the gymnasts to find an inspiration/an new gateway to their own ambitions. It was exciting to experience how these different approaches all drew their inspiration from a common source and how everyone individualized the gymnastics based on the archetypal pictures of the development of mankind. This approach was encouraging and inspiring for everybody’s  own future gymnastic path, it was received with more openness and  more personal attention and sometimes it was even full of liberating humour.
This was the result of becoming aware of the qualities naturally, as part of the process, without being given the task of having to do so. The workshops were not so much about right or wrong, not about highlighting inadequacies or trying to show off, not about random choices, nor past-oriented preferences; the work was focused on those steps, which each individual, together with his/her partners needed to take, in order to move on. The participants showed an excellence sense in these open, perceptive and attentive processes for the right step in the right moment.
Thus, this conference formed the seed of a new international co-operation and was the first step towards the founding of Bothmer Movement International.
The lectures served to determine the position.[3]
Alheidis von Bothmer’s lecture connected us with the entelechy and spirit of Fritz Graf von Bothmer, with the zeitgeist in which he lived and with his struggles with the forms of the gymnastics. With a few words, she managed to describe all the gymnastics exercises as pictures of the development of the students and their relationship to the living forces of space.
Georg Glöckler reflected on the qualities of space and counter space, the body as an instrument for soul and spirit and the inner attitudes of teaching and learning, in connection with Waldorf education and anthroposophy. That is to say: to wake up where you usually are asleep.
Four developmental stages of Bothmer gymnastics was the theme of my lecture. With the support of Michael Neu, who performed some exercises, I tried to show the developmental process leading us from the pure forms of the exercises, to their inner life in space, then to the inner gestures and finally to the essence of the Bothmer exercises, completed with a look into the future. 
Much has happened since the conference. The training centres, which since then have been established, developed many free, lively and playful exercises for exploring the relationship of the human being and space, as well as exercises for the more concrete relationship of anatomy and physiology. Every gymnastics exercise offers the basis for metamorphosis into the moving, mental and spiritual areas of life. You don't even have to believe that the caterpillar dies and that something completely different emerges from it, namely a colourful and fluttering butterfly.
20 years later we live in completely different times, with a completely different Generation Z and now also with Generation P (from Purpose)[4]. Through globalisation and through the worldwide connectivity, it is becoming increasingly important to recognise how things are connected and related to each other. We all find ourselves in the world of the “www-simultaneously”, in the game of opposites with each other. Everything is related to everything. Something of the whole becomes visible in each individual. Ambiguity becomes the means of knowledge. It sharpens the precision.
Today's fast-paced transformation-time poses many new and open questions, away from given solutions, away from rivalry and competitive thinking. Today's young generation is immediately on high alert, when suddenly, in the hustle and bustle, through the individualized thoughts and subjectivities of those who move, something arises, which goes beyond the subjective and beyond the temporal. Bothmer gymnastics can offer a unique contribution to them. The strength of the gymnastics lies in the fact that it contains timeless relevance, which will be true tomorrow and the day after as well, because it connects us to infinity - out of the box, not of systemic importance. This finds its way into our physicality and expresses itself in the three dimensions.
A major change in how and what we offer as education and training is unavoidable in the future. The next international Bothmer conference, celebrating 100 years of Bothmer gymnastics in 2022, can also contribute to the further developments.
Marc Vereeck
[1] With Milou’s dynamic direction
[2] In the 60’s there was also a big meeting in Stuttgart, with gymnastics teachers, eurythmists and Bothmer gymnasts attending. Among the participants were such with great figures of  the time such as Gretl Krause, Elisabeth Dessecker, Olive Whicher, Knut Ross, Jochen Nietzold, Peter Prömm, Werner Neumann, Johannes Hoerner, Alexander Julius , and last but not least Else Klink. This conference was - according to reports - characterized by struggles for position as to who would carry the right representation of Bothmer gymnastics.
[3] “Mensch-Raum” Human-Space Essays about Bothmer Gymnastics, Volume 1
[4] “How Generation P changes Lidl, Rewe, Aldi and Co.” – The World on Sunday (Welt am Sonntag) 24 July 2020, Michael Gassmann
International Summer Intensive 2021
The international Bothmer summer intensive is still planned from July 26th to August 1st in Polička, Czech Republic.
However, the situation remains unpredictable and it is impossible to know how the pandemic, the rules and regulations will affect our lives in a few months.
We hope that the summer intensive will take place, but everything is still uncertain. We will inform you about our decision in a timely manner.
Thanks for your understanding!


  • International Summer Intensive 2021, Polička, Czech Republic,
    26. July 2021- 01. August 2021

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