A new crowdfunding campaign is being launched today to help a centenarian dancer stage her first choreographed production in Australia.
The Inspiring Eileen campaign by the Arts Health Institute hopes to reach $26,000 through fundraising site Pozible by 10 March to help fund several performances of a new dance work by Eileen Kramer.
Ms Kramer, who will also perform in her production, The Early Ones, said she was excited and wanted it to be perfect.
“It’s not easy to make a dance work. There is such a lot involved; costumes, theatre, rehearsals, dancers, musicians, light people…” Ms Kramer said.
“We need help from the people who love dance and would like to see us do this,” she said.
In her youth, Ms Kramer, 100, was a member of the Bodenwieser Ballet, which is known as Australia’s first modern dance company, formed by Austrian choreographer Gertrud Bodenwieser.
The Early Ones is in the Bodenwieser style, which is “expressive and beautiful,” Ms Kramer said.
“The theme is ‘we have something in us that we don’t always know about’.”
Also a costume designer, artist and author, Ms Kramer returned to Australia aged 99 after living in the US for 40 years. She now lives in a hostel for people at risk of homelessness.
The Early Ones will be her first Australian choreographed production and has come after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Arts Health Institute (AHI) in December 2014 followed by taking part in an arts in residence program through the Bundanon Trust.
AHI chief executive officer Dr Maggie Haertsch said Ms Kramer was keen to see her new dance work come to the stage following the award experience and that the AHI wanted to help make that happen.
“When we are thinking of quality of life and enabling new opportunities for people as we age, there can be no better case study than that of Eileen Kramer and the project Inspiring Eileen,” Dr Haertsch told Australian Ageing Agenda.
In February, Ms Kramer was invited to be an artist in residence at Bundanon, where over a week she worked with dancers, rehearsal director Julia Cotton and composer Nicholas Lyon to create The Early Ones.
Above: Eileen Kramer (left) creating her dance work The Early Ones
The AHI supported work at Bundanon including personal support for Eileen, travel to and from Bundanon for the cast, living away from home expenses and dancers’ fees.
It is now calling for supporters to help get the work to the stage, with money raised earmarked for the fees and costumes for nine dancers, musicians, music composition, theatre hire and technical and support crew.
“I have a vision of this lovely work and I thank you so much for your support if you help to make this possible,” Ms Kramer said.
Ticket sales will cover some but not all of the costs and any surplus funds will go to Ms Kramer to improve her quality of life and allow her to keep creating as long as she can, Dr Haertsch said.
“Eileen would love to live in a place that has a living room where she has enough space and good natural light to paint, write, make costumes and have the privacy to do so,” she said.
The Independent Theatre in North Sydney has been booked for three performances in March.
See the Inspiring Eileen project on Pozible for more information including videos featuring Ms Kramer and details on supporter rewards.