Bernhard in the ballroom at Cluny Hill

Bernhard was a Ballet dancer, starting his career in Berlin and ending his days as Ballet Master in Salzburg. On retiring from the stage he was invited to work with Dance Therapy and discovered that the folk dances he had experienced around Europe were an ideal medium for this to integrate spirit and body through simple repetitive movements.

Bernhard came to Findhorn in 1978 at the invitation of Peter Caddy. Here he encountered an old friend Sir George Trevelyan, whom he had known in Berlin before the Second World War. They became once more firm friends.

Bernhard and Friedel, Ballroom Cluny 1983

Bernhard taught us a discipline he called ‘Meditation on the Dance’, or ‘Meditation on the Cross’. He said there was an unbroken tradition of dance in Europe from Antiquity. He called it the Apollonian tradition.

He taught that dance is a language. To be able to communicate in that language it is necessary to obey the syntax of the language. To do this the dancer must first orient himself or herself. He taught that the three first positions in Ballet were stages in learning this orientation. The first position teaches stability and ‘holding one’s own space’. The work is on the vertical axis as the student dips into a pliĆ© and rises on to the toes.

First Position – Learning the Vertical Axis

The second position teaches the laws of dynamics. Bernhard described this as the first step into Space.

Second Position – The Laws of Dynamics

The third position is that of the master. Here the apprentice has moved through the 8 pillars of the temple to take his or her place in the centre as a Master. In this position one foot is placed on the static cross – of addition – and the other foot is placed with the heel to the instep of the standing foot, on the dynamic cross and this creates a spiral through the body.

3rd Position – having mastered Stasis and Dynamis

These 3 positions Bernhard likened to the positions of the Apprentice, the Journeyman and the Master in Freemasonry. He pointed out that while the position of the Master in Masonry is that of the Static cross, this is the place of the Apprentice for a dancer.

Bernhard teaching at Cafe Pan, 1985

I last met Bernhard with Friedel in Stockholm in September 1985 when he held a workshop at Cafe Pan. I was pleased to be able to introduce many friends to my master. He was tired but still exuberant, a quality he never lost. He died six months later at the time of the Chernobyl disaster.