Eileen : Stories from the Phillip Street Courtyard
written by Eileen Kramer
Melbourne Books | ISBN 9781925556391
Member’s price: $35.96
Eileen Kramer is a person for whom age does not exist. Eileen is quite possibly the longest working dancer and choreographer in Australia, if not the world. At 103 years young, she continues to take to the
stage and dance and create every day and is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. Eileen has lived an extraordinary life. She was born on 8 November 1914 and grew up in Sydney. Eileen came to dance relatively late in life, joining the Bodenwieser Ballet company, Australia’s first professional modern dance company, in 1940. She left Australia in the 1950s, performing around the world and meeting contemporary artists who have gone down in history as legends. Among the many artists she met, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Chico Marx, she loved Louis Armstrong the best.
Eileen has now written a book about her life before she was a dancer, living in a bohemian artist community in Phillip Street in the centre of Sydney. This memoir is comprised of thirty-three short stories spanning five years of her life as a young woman from 1936 to 1940. She has drawn gorgeous colour illustrations that bring the stories to life. The reader gets to know the close knit group of artists who lived in the Phillip Street courtyard: Rosaleen Norton, who would go on to become the ‘Witch of Kings Cross’, the intellectual and mysterious, Joan, and the beautiful model, Ann. These young women were professional artist’s models, sitting for Norman Lindsey and other modern painters of Sydney. Eileen’s first boyfriend, Richard, was a Freudian psychoanalyst and they would spend their Sundays at the Art Gallery of NSW and Speakers Corner at the Domain. These stories are a social history of Sydney bohemia in the late 1930s.