Amazing 102-year-old dancer still stuns on stage

Kristine Tarbert

Modern dancer Eileen Kramer is closing in on her 103rd Birthday next month but shows no sign of slowing down.

Eileen first started dancing in the 1930s when she was just 24 and joined the Bodenwieser Ballet. She is one of the longest living choreographers in Australia who is still creating.

“I began quite late in life. I was studying singing and piano. Then I saw a dance company and went straight into and have never looked back,” Eileen tells Be.

Eileen Kramer still dances at 102. Photo: Supplied

“Usually people say ‘oh you were a dancer’ and I say ‘no I am’.”

Born in 1914, Eileen has travelled through India, Pakistan, Africa and Europe where she worked as a dancer, before setting in America in the 1980s.

Eileen joined the ballet in 1939. Photo: Supplied

But she returned to Australia at the age of 99, because she ‘missed the kookaburras’.

She continues to perform in various productions and in in 2016 was a finalist in the Westpac Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards in the category of Arts, Culture and Sports.

She's had a career spanning 75 years. Photo: Supplied

“When you start dancing on stage you feel transformed, you are transformed into a magical world,” Eileen says.

“It’s like invisible communication with the audience. And it’s all about perfecting yourself. All the bad gets left off stage and you’re onstage in your perfect dance.”

Just like the saying it’s never too late to fall in love, Eileen says elderly people can continue to do things they love for much longer than they think.

Eileen was studying singing when she fell in love with dancing. Photo: Supplied

“If you fall in love with dancing it’s never too late,” she says.

“Although now I mostly do upper body movements and I work hard on that. I don’t need to lift my legs high or jump in the air.”

Eileen only does upper body movements now. Photo: Supplied

Eileen, who is also the official Ambassador for the Arts Health Institute (AHI), a national charity that supports Australian elders and their families in achieving a life that is meaningful, socially connected and creative, says she will keep dancing for as long as she can.

“I can still entertain people,” she laughs.

Her upcoming performance is called The Buddha’s Wife, however whether it can go ahead or not will depend whether enough money can be raised. Eileen has started a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds. To support her production click here.

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