Friday, February 27, 2015

Eileen Kramer, 'Inspiring Eileen' - 'The Early Ones' - Pozible Campaign

This woman is one of the most beautiful examples of positive ageing and living gracefully, incorporating the arts into life and good health, and I am thrilled to have gotten to know her through my work with the incredible organisation that is Arts Health Institute.

Eileen Kramer was a member of the Bodenwieser Dance Company, the first modern dance company in Australia. Eileen is a choreographer, dancer, costume maker, artist and writer. At 100 years of age she is most likely the longest living working choreographer and dancer in Australia, if not the world. YES!

Eileen came back to Australia at the age of 99 because she "missed the Kookaburras". She had been living in the USA for last 40 years and now she is back living in Australia and creating an all new production titled ‘The Early Ones’ – an original work she has created and choreographed, her first Australian production.

In February Eileen was invited to be an artist in residence at Bundanon in their Arts in Residence program. Over one week Eileen worked with some of Australia's most talented dancers with rehearsal director, Julia Cotton and composer Nicolas Lyon who is writing the original music, to create this work. Here is a pic of this in action:

Photo: Simon Cunich
While at Bundanon, a series of five videos documenting the experience (see below for one) . 

Arts Health Institute has supported the initial set up of the work while at Bundanon, and now a campaign around profiling Eileen has evolved and subsequently a call out to help fund this dream, which will see the work that has been developed performed on stage. 

Beyond ticket sales, any extra funds covering the cost for her production will support Eileen to improve her quality of life. Eileen lives quite an independent life, but rather than living day to day, it would be extraordinary if the love and care felt for Eileen (see this post here, from ABC News, who ran a story on Eileen this week - the love on social media is incredible) can be translated into financial support to ensure she has what she needs to keep creating as long as she can.

Here's the thing, you guys. This wonderful human being needs funds to have this dream come true - it's her dream, but it's also ours. And by ours, I mean the dance community, the arts community, the health community, the elderly community, the community who values archiving the work of such an inspiring human being.

This is the Pozible link is where you can contribute immediately:

And here is how the funds will be used, taken from the Pozible site:
We need your help to support the modest fees for the nine dancers, their costumes, the musicians and the music composition, the theatre hire and the technical and support crew. 
The Arts Health Institute has supported the initial set up of the work while at Bundanon which included personal support for Eileen, travel to and from Bundanon for all the cast, and living away from home expenses and dancers' fees, but we can't sustain the other costs. So we need your help to see the work that has been developed can now be performed on stage. Ticket sales will help defray some of the costs but it is not enough on its own. Any extra funds after covering the cost for her production will support Eileen to improve her quality of life.

Eileen lives in a hostel for people at risk of homelessness. She lives quite an independent life on the pension but rather than living day to day, it would be extraordinary if the love and care you feel for Eileen can be translated into financial support to ensure that she has what she needs to keep creating as long as she can. The Arts Health Institute will help ensure that this is made possible with the additional funds made over and above this request to stage her show. 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. Eileen says that that "dancers are the poor relations in the arts but you don't really feel poor as you are dealing with riches of the mind and spirit."

The Arts Health Institute is a registered Health Promotion Charity governed by a board of directors. If you wish to make a donation and receive a tax deduction you can do so online through our donation page on our website:
You can contact Maggie Haertsch, CEO of Arts Health Institute, to discuss a larger donation, too.
We'd love you to share this post with everyone you know!

'The Early Ones' is actually a rare opportunity to see Eileen's work and the influence of the legendary Gertrud Bodenwieser. And so, not only is this an important work of historical significance, but supporting it will help realise Eileen's dream.

Sydney-born Eileen is truly a national treasure. She studied at the Conservatorium of Music, where she immersed herself in piano, the theory of music, and singing, with visions of becoming an opera singer. Soon after introduced to the Vienna-borne Bodenwieser Modern Dance Company, Eileen immediately began to study dance under the close guidance of Madame Gertrude Bodenwieser herself, and the Viennese dancers, touring with Bodenwieser for a decade.

The significance of Gertrude Bodenweiser on the Australian dance world cannot be underestimated: in introducing her style of modern dance it spawned the beginnings of Australia’s contemporary dance scene, changing the Australian dance landscape.

And so, the venue is booked: The Independent Theatre, North Sydney for the performance. We have three sessions: 8pm Friday 13th March, 2pm and 8pm Saturday 14th March

Help make it all happen!

Here is some video of the wonderful Eileen:

For more videos of Eileen, and Arts Health Institute, go here.

And here is her segment on 'The Project' this week.

And her segment on ABC News is right here.

And remember, here is the Pozible crowdfunding site link:

And you can follow Arts Health Institute on Facebook here.

And you can follow Inspiring Eileen on Facebook here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Laura Dundovic: Dementia and her grandmother

Laura Dundovic's heartbreaking - and honest, inspiring and incredible moving - social media post this evening says is so beautiful. (See below).

Laura - who up until recently was the Australian edition of 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' - made her mark on the reality show in a big way, and soon after she left the reality TV jungle, news broke that her family member had passed away, her grandmother.

I believe it is wonderfully honest to post something like this, Laura. We need to keep talking, talking about dementia, talking about yes, how cruel it is.

Dementia is Australia's third biggest killer (yes), and the more we talk about it, the more we demystify it. And the more we do that, the more we will be prepared when it one day (inevitable) affects somebody we love.

In the end, it took my mother's life away, and I will never stop talking about it. I am lucky that through my book, my mum's memory and legacy lives on.

Just as all your beautiful memories of your grandmother do, Laura.

MUCH love to you and family, Laura.

RIP, Nana.

Dementia is such a cruel cruel illness but just like with everything else Nana you didn't let it stop you from smiling. While it hurts us here not having you around anymore, I know it was just too much in the end. I know that you are in heaven, independent again, like you always loved to be. While it would never feel like the right time to say goodbye, you were so sick for so long and we thought we had lost you many times before, so I am very thankful for the extra few years we got together. Ill miss doing crosswords with you, our coffee and cake breaks, wheelchair races and nursing home sing a longs. Thank you for giving me such a beautiful mother and showing me how strong a woman can be. I love you so much 💕 xx

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Antonio Dottore and Josie Gagliano: on death and mourning… and the fun of Nonna Paola: AUDIO clip

On Friday, I was privileged to be interviewed by Antonio Dottore, the radio announcer I chatted with last year in July, just as my book was published… and sadly just before my mother died.

At the time, I was my usual ball-juggling self: managing mum's care (with my mother in law, who was living with her, and my brothers who assisted on weekends), mum's doctor's appointments, my own sanity, trying to be the best wife and mother I could be, and working freelance as much as possible.

Despite the 'successful' juggle, there was one variable I was about to find out I could not control - mum's advanced state of dementia, and the rapid escalation into an unstoppable decline.

There is so, so much to be said about this, and a blog post cannot do it justice (you can read about some of my journey in the blog posts on this page in the past few months), and this chat right here with Antonio encapsulates an edited version of my past six very vulnerable, very painful months.

Antonio is exceptional at eliciting the best from you (Antonio's Twitter profile reads: NED, researcher, educator, broadcaster, who loves gardening and occasionally bakes bread).

I did notice during our interview that my Italian was a tad shaky - seeing as I don't use it as much now that I don't converse in Italian with my mother. It's the truth, and that's painful.

But the chat with Antonio was excellent, peppered with some Aussie words when I'd get stuck.

Also, we talked about Nonna Paola! The web sensation who is super hot right now got a mention, as I'd just met her that week. Antonio even played a clip from one of her videos, and we chatted about social media and its place with the older generation. It was lots of fun in what could have been an entirely sombre interview. (You can see her clips here and here and see our meet up here).

You can listen to the whole radio interview with Antonio (it's just over an hour) right here.

And you can listen to my previous interview with Antonio in July 2014 right here.