Bibliophile | At 108, choreographer Eileen Kramer says ‘Life Keeps Me Dancing’

life keeps me dancing book cover
Life Keeps Me Dancing
by Eileen Kramer

Eileen Kramer has had a most vibrant and extraordinary life and, at 108 years of age, she is surrounded by creativity and friendship while she busies herself choreographing and designing costumes for her latest dance routine to be filmed and screened in coming months.

Born in Sydney’s Paddington in 1914 just after Australia entered World War 1, she reminisces that she has been dancing for 100 years. “The body has strong memories. Those memories hold strong, even when the body changes”.

When she left school and moved out of home, she didn’t have much money but, as a young woman interested in the arts, her bohemian lifestyle made her life rich … and this was something she would replicate throughout her life.

Eileen was in her mid-twenties when she began dance classes with Madame Bodenwieser who was a refugee from Vienna when the war had started. Bringing some of her modern dance company with her, Bodenwieser initially taught and toured throughout Australia.

Eileen has danced and sang and painted her way through India, Pakistan, Europe and America. She worked as an artist’s model in Paris and London, met Ella Fitzgerald and Groucho Marx, and learned the twist from Louis Armstrong!

Sheltered from the horrors that were happening around the world, Eileen found places where she could live and dance in peace and hold onto the art and beauty. “For what is dance, but the opposite of horror and violence?”

In September, 2013, she returned to Australia, aged ninety-nine. Again she found like-minded people who would help her bring her visions to life – on the page and through dance.

It is inspirational to read about her life and the things that have kept her young. At 108, she maintains that she is still having a marvelous life and she is still learning. “Life has kept me dancing and the dance will go on.”

Lezly Herbert

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