Don’t Cry, Dance is a memoir spanning four generations - through war, horror and loss, to peace, calm and love - from Auschwitz-Birkenow to Paris, London, Athens and ultimately to Sydney, Australia.
Janka was a Polish Jewish girl, and Alberto, a Spanish Greek Jewish man. This tale reveals how love and hearts of kindness came out of the horrors of the concentration camps.
In 1949, they came to Australia, bringing two cultures, 13 languages and their toddler Nina, to forge a new beginning. These two people would never have met and fallen in love, if they hadn’t survived the attempted extermination of a race in the death chambers of Europe. They knew and taught their children, that we cannot move on without forgiveness.
Nina always knew she came from their legacy of resilience, generosity, hospitality, love and their acceptance of all people. As a storyteller and community artist, it was time for her to add her story to theirs and weave a lasting memory and tale of forgiveness for future generations.
The audiobook version is read entirely by the author, Nina Angelo OAM.
Part 1 of the book is Alberto and Janka's story told from the perspective of Alberto, Janka and Nina. They are all read in Nina's voice and each storyteller is introduced at the beginning of each chapter. However, you will also find Alberto's stories are marked with 🎩, Janka's stories are marked with 🌼 and Nina's stories are marked with ⭐ in the contents list.
"With gratitude to Yantra de Vilder for her generosity, patience, love and expertise on the audio production, and for her music as composer for this book.
And my thanks also to David Frot and Laura Maya for their help with getting this audiobook up live for the world to hear."
I am pleased that my first print run sold out, here are a few reviews:
Review from Jacob Figgy:
"DONT CRY, DANCE - The perfect title for this book for so many reasons and the great story of where that title comes from!
A MEMOIR OF:
WAR - WWII atrocities and firsthand recollections.
LOVE - Finding love in an unusual and hard time.
FORGIVENESS - Moving on from the war and being grateful for the life and love you have. Forgiving those who have caused you unbelievable pain.
Last week I finished reading this amazing and gripping book! I read more than the first half as soon as I got it from the book launch at the Sydney Jewish Museum￼. ￼
Finishing the second half just recently during ￼ quarantine I was often bugging my mum and my girlfriend with parts I found intriguing.
I go on and on ￼about the human spirit during war, mentions of family members, piecing together the facts of history (which I seem to have an obsession with) and tying them in with the stories of love, war, fear, determination, resilience, intelligence and most of all perspectives of the amazing Thio Leko and Thia Janka which I’m sure had I been born a little earlier having these people in my life would have been a privilege.
I was often running to mum like a little kid saying “let me read you this part this is exactly how you described it to me growing up” ￼
Connecting with so many aspects of the book in aww of every word the way the stories were told by the people who experienced it all first hand!
Then there’s Nina’s story! You are personally an inspiration to me and I’m proud to have the same blood in our veins. What you have done for communities around the world and inspiring so many and not to mention constructing the masterpiece that I was submerged in. You are to be commended, Cousin!
As I read through the book I would mark points id call “omg facts”, points I found interesting, stories syncing up with stories of relatives I was told from young and most of all life lessons branded in my brain or perspectives I related to given by Thio Leko, Thia Janka and Nina herself!
This photo is just after completing the book reading out those points around the fire to my family.
This book as further inspired me down the rabbit hole of researching and connecting dots of not only my Great Grandfathers (Thio Lekos brother) story but also my Portuguese heritage too and the war time stories of those family members.
This is a great read and￼ reiterates my belief in the human spirit, community and ￼ gratefulness!
I hope we can get the whole family together soon to see everyone and chew Nina’s ear off.￼"
Review from Albie:
"I am writing to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. I read it shortly after returning to Canada.
How fortunate that the records of your parents experiences, pre and post war, survived. You had a rich source of authentic material with which to work and you used it well. Their stories of persecution before the conflict began and as it unfolded, and the ways they found to deal with it were fascinating. When in the concentration camps the miracle of their survival depended on a combination intelligence and luck. How frightening and sickening for them to witness first hand mans inhumanity to his fellow man!
After the war the way they were able to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward was fascinating. To leave Europe, immigrate to Australia, raise a family and contribute to society and not be consumed with bitterness is truly amazing. It was a hugh journey and a triumph to rebuild their lives from the ashes of that terrible time!
Since we have known one another for a fair number of years now I had some idea of your many accomplishments. However the autobiographical sketch of your life I found to be very interesting. The way you enriched the lives of many Pacific Islanders with your art is commendable. The contributions you’ve made to the art scene in Australia are significant and it’s wonderful you’ve been duly recognised for it. It’s nice that when you accomplish good things in your life people notice and give you the recognition you deserve!
The book certainly showed your life has not been a bed of roses. You’ve struggled and persevered, raised a family on your own, pursued your art and moved forward against formidable odds. You’re a tough woman Nina and you’re a survivor just like your parents!
Review from Bob Owens:
"This is one of those books that grab you from the first chapter. A book about family, loss, unbelievable devastation but above all, love and forgiveness. It’s also about striving to pass on a better life ( even world) to those that come after.
Life for Europe’s minority’s was fraught at best and catastrophic at worst. There lives were shaped by cunning intellect, chance and luck all rolled into one. This family saga is a brilliant read. You can feel the danger that surrounded them and rejoice in their small acts of defiance. The loss of family is unfathomable. What I got from this is their depth of feeling for one another and their sheer determination to survive and Lead productive positive lives.
This book is a must for modern history buffs and anyone interested in populations scarred by war. I highly recommend it.
I loved that it was in first person. Telling their own story. Much more authentic. I really got how they both told it differently. Your mum more emotional and dad more matter of fact. Loved it. Well done Nina. Your like your folks. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You’re an achiever and a go getter like them. You just did it your way. Loved the photos too. You looked stunning at 21 ( don’t we all ) but you had a movie star look. Xx"
Review from Kathryn Vere:
"Who wants to read three amazing stories of transformation woven into one book? of a couple finding through their love a forgiveness and joy the world has rarely seen in action? Be prepared to cry, smile and be lifted out of anything you are currently facing.... because if Yantra and Alberto could forgive what happened to them and go on to raise the completely incomparable friend in a million million Nina Angelo, well.... could you dig a bit deeper?"
Review from Margot Edwards:
"I had the privilege of being Book Doula - writing mentor and co-editor - to my dear friend Nina Angelo in the creation of her powerful family memoir Don’t Cry, Dance, over the past three years.
Launched in September at the Jewish Museum in Sydney, Nina gives Part 1 of this family memoir to her Jewish parents - who’s voices speak out from their perilous journey and survival through WW2 Europe and the Nazi concentration camps, to their migration journey to 1940s Australia with their baby girl Nina - where they held strong in the face of a strange and sometimes hostile world of post-war Australia.
Part 2 traces Nina’s own journey, growing with their loving and courageous legacy, into the dynamic community artist and single mum of twins she still is today; leading herself into and out of her own survival story with countless peaks and valleys, to become the much-valued iconic character of the NSW Central Coast community, where she still lives and from where she works and creates and travels the world.
At 72, Nina is now facing her journey with lymphoma with the same unstoppable optimism and tell-all courage she has shared throughout her life.
As cancer treatment stops her in her tracks, just at the high-point of birthing her magnificent book, so too does it bring love and support from all those around her who she has touched with her bubbling effervescence and creative flair.
If you are one of the generous WA crowd-funders of Don’t Cry, Dance and awaiting your book, please contact me here, as Nina is having a bundle of books sent to me for distribution.
If you’d like to buy Don’t Cry Dance as a gift for Christmas, please follow the link below.
I can recommend it highly as a page-turner which a message of hope and forgiveness in today’s world, as Nina and her family rise from the ashes with love and connection, again and again.
Don't Cry, Dance available at the Sydney Jewish Museum for $27.50 pickup at 148 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst or ordered online and posted for an extra $9.20."
Review from Iris Nunn:
"My beautiful friend and wise Elder Nina Angelo launched her self-published book yesterday called 'Don't Cry, Dance.'
Her incredible life story and the story of her two parents, (who both survived the horrors of Auschwitz concentration camp,) unfolds throughout the pages. Just so SO proud of you Aunty Nina! Thank you for telling the world a powerful story of compassion and survival and love and strength above terribly adversity - Forces of Light conquering the darkness, MUCH needed for these times we live in today. ❤️"
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Be kind. Nina ***
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