Freelance writer – creative – media-maker
I am sad to report that my friend and esteemed dance critic and advocate Hilary Crampton passed away over the weekend.
Hilary was well-known as an educator, critic for The Age and as a champion of arts policy and management, having been a former president of Ausdance and, in her last job, a Senior lecturer at Melbourne University.
I met Hilary a couple of years ago when I was wondering about what steps to take to get myself involved in arts reviewing and writing. It was after googling Hilary’s name that I realised she was working at Melbourne University and decided to email her, not really thinking that she would give a random student like me the time of day. Within a couple of days I had received not only a reply, but an invitation to coffee. I was thrilled!
I had never written an arts review in my life, or anything even remotely like it at that point, so I turned up at Potter’s completely wide-eyed and eager to absorb her advice. She encouraged me to get out and take advantage of the vibrant dance scene in Melbourne to learn and suggested that I go see the late Merce Cunningham and his dance company when they came to Federation Square, an experience I appreciate I was lucky to have had. It was thanks to Hilary that I started out writing for the university magazine. My dance history ‘reading list’ was based heavily on the one Hilary emailed me after our talk.
I kept her up to date with my progress through the years, but we were never met face-to-face again. I suspect that her health deteriorated quite soon after that meeting, and so in a sense I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet her. I was thus aware of her battle with cancer, but never realised the illness was so advanced – to the point that I even invited her out to coffee around the time of the Australian Dance Awards earlier this year, so the news was still something of a shock to the system when I found out.
By writing this, I hope I have honoured Hilary’s memory. She was more widely loved and admired than she likely realised. Rest in peace, Hilary.