AMAZ­ING AUS­TRALIAN:

Eileen Kramer, 103

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents -

103-yearold bal­le­rina Eileen Kramer

Just shy of her 104th birth­day, Eileen Kramer moves with the gen­tle grace of some­one who has lived to dance. “When I rst be­gan danc­ing,” she says, “I would nish the class, wouldn’t talk to any­one, would get dressed quickly and oat down King Street in an ec­stasy of dance. I’d just parted with my rst boyfriend but I had no pain be­cause I’d gone straight into dance.” There were other boyfriends, even a hus­band, but none lasted as long as her love af­fair with dance.

Eileen was born in 1914 in Syd­ney’s Mos­man Bay. She stud­ied singing but, after see­ing a con­cert by Gertrud Bo­den­wieser’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary dance com­pany, switched her al­le­giance. “I saw th­ese beau­ti­ful girls danc­ing to [Jo­hann Strauss’] Blue Danube Waltz. That was it for me. I went straight into their class and in three years, I was a mem­ber of their com­pany.”

In her 10 years with the Bo­den­wieser Bal­let, Eileen toured Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Rhode­sia and In­dia. Then, in 1953, she set out alone, danc­ing her way through In­dia, Pak­istan, and nally Paris, where she met her hus­band, Barouk, with whom she moved to New York. When he suf­fered a stroke, she gave up danc­ing and nursed him for 20 years.

Eileen re­turned to dance in her sev­en­ties. At 99, she ew home to Syd­ney, be­cause she longed to hear a kook­aburra. To­day, she writes, dances and last year she chore­ographed a new work to cel­e­brate her 103rd birth­day.

“Peo­ple ask, what is my se­cret? I tell them not to lose that con­nec­tion with their child­hood. That’s when you’re cre­ative. I’ve stayed with creativ­ity all my life.”

Eileen Kramer’s me­moir will be pub­lished by Mel­bourne Books in Novem­ber.

She also writes a blog: sue­healey.com/ eileens-blog.html

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