Monthly Archives: July 2016

Dancing with Speeches #31 Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic Convention this week about her girls growing into intelligent women over their years in the White House, a place built by slaves. It was also one of the best speeches I have ever heard and so this week’s dance is a thank you back to Michelle.  Maya Angelou’s poems Still I Rise and Phenomenal Woman just won’t leave me as I think of Michelle Obama and bow down saying thank you. 

Thank you for staying the course, for raising your girls into women. For showing us what love looks like in public office, for being decent, graceful, elegant, strong, kind. For holding hands, and for being able to laugh together, for lifting up and rising, rising, rising.

Thank you for not letting us see all the ordinary things and yet glimpsing the moments of the ordinary just enough to know 1600 Pennsylvania Ave was a home above the shop. Thank you for protecting your kids and showing day after day that #blacklivesmatter in education and health as well as on the streets.   Thanks for showing other parents the way and sharing your motto : when they go low, we go high. This is a motto of the campaign ahead for your friend Hillary and indeed all your fellow Americans who will be voting in the context of pain, hate speech and fear. As a Mum you were and continue to be your girl’s first role model.

Every Mum can look to you as a role model – showing your girls how to be a partner, a confidante, a smart person to keep your mate humble, a woman in every way, a broker for what’s strong not what’s wrong and most of all a voter. To think your eldest will be voting in her first election this November for a woman president, starting her voting pattern knowing that is possible.

Thanks Michelle for being a great woman and a great Mum, a great partner and friend for shaping our lives and conversations, for making us laugh and cry for rising, rising, rising. You are a woman of strength and we are all going to miss you in the White House and can’t wait to see you doing more in the global movements for equity, especially for women and girls education. Thank you for being  a phenomenal woman and raising two more.


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


Dancing with Speeches #30 Donald Trump

This week Donald Trump was endorsed as the Republican candidate for the US Presidential election.  It is hard to know what to parody, what to take seriously and how to respect sovereignty of citizens in another Western democracy. This re-write factors in those competing thoughts. Read the original speech here.

Friends – and we are all friends here – even those who don’t agree and don’t support me – I call you friends as a sign of promise that we might find a way to respect and hear each other, learn to agree to disagree with no blood split, and no more deposits into the fear bank as a consequence of our differences.

It is remarkable we are here together with me as your nominee to put before the voters of the United States of America as one of their two choices for the next President. Who would have thought ! Our side of politics is on the rise, more people have got out for the Republican vote than they did 8 years ago and the Democrat vote is down 20%.   We are on the march to the White House and we are going together. Our brand of what it means to protect, defend will rise. Our idea of what it means to be safe, generous, welcoming will manifest. Our duty to ourselves and the ethic that charity begins at home will prevail.

It is no longer going to be acceptable to welcome the stranger, we will not learn from our nation’s founders where the great lady on Hudson Bay beckons our forebears to come in the door to opportunity and freedom. We are saying good bye to that heritage and my legacy will be a wall: a physical sign of division and exclusion to conquer the outlaws and bands of thieves taking jobs from our people, building our economy and enticing us with their ingenuity. We are buoyed by our friends around the world who too are making a thing out of border control – thank you for leading the way UK with Brexit and Australia before you – the advantages you have as islands means you have moats – and we will have a wall.

I will bring truth back – the lies will be over once and for all – Some of you will get fired! We need to face facts about guns and people being killed in the line of duty. I will be repeating these facts and that will be enough.   Homicides last year increased by 17% in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.

I will put one set of facts up against another and you will connect them in your mind, even if there is no connection and even when I don’t suggest or offer solutions. It will be enough for you to hear them over and over again. And I will match those facts with stories designed to feed your fears and bunker down and perhaps build your own walls grouted together by ignorance and impoverishment of spirit. I will talk to you in ways that are simple and easy to understand. I will press your default buttons so you don’t have to work hard or dig deep into the complexity of problems and solutions.

When I say “one more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders” you will know that means your own children could become human sacrifices, martyrs to freedom’s way, innocents slaughtered by raging infidels pouring into your homelands and worse still your own home at any tick of the clock. You will be reassured that I am in the White House making our economy strong, I will broadcast to you directly without the medium of newsrooms or editing suites. I will have my entire presidency filmed and bring transparency to a new level – this will be the greatest reality show in history! I won’t be depending on such unreliable methods of decision-making like women’s intuition – I will be making my decisions from the centre of my experience and power – from business – bringing Wall Street to the White House – another wall to build up the market and make America great again.

We are going to stop with the Chinese take-aways too – lets get the national debt down. I don’t know quite what to do about that – but America has the brightest and best and I am sure someone out there can figure it out and bring me a solution and when they do and if it isn’t what we need I will just say “you’re fired” and another person can have a go. Get in line! Who wants to be apprenticed to the President?

Grab your partners, your children, your friends and bring  your interpretative dance, bling, glitz and glamour – we are heading to the White House.  Stay tuned!



Dancing with Speeches #29 Julia Gillard

When former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave her now famous misogyny and sexism speech, the Canberra Press Gallery barely noticed, within 24 hours it had gone viral around the world. This week journalist Van Badham gave us another course in how to address sexism. Lessons from the frontline, a flamenco to inspire us to action.

Thank you to all the women and men who have gone before and who have drawn attention to the inequalities and inequities that find their roots in sexism and misogyny. Throughout the generations, women have been subjected to abuse and violence that has its genesis in a casual remark, a throwaway line, that over time gathers more and more abuse and before long is more than a pebble in a shoe – it is a stone weighing us all down and drowning us in a well of violence. We follow the rules, even following direction of police and laws and what good does that do? Women and children are murdered and dying every week in what starts as a slap of a phrase of disrespect. A text message, a tweet, a facebook update with enough repugnancy to launch a campaign of terror. The fear of turning on your feed, matched by the fear of walking down the street alone, the fear of gang taunts, fear of rape, fear of death. Women are being hysterical we hear from our TV screens in prime time public broadcasting viewing. Will the next call be for mass hysterectomies – a surgical response? Some days I think this is just an idea away … there are plenty of examples throughout history (herstory) where surgical, clinical, cut it out and throw it away responses have been used to solve problems (don’t forget the witch hunts).

Every time we hear a sexist remark, laugh at a joke that demeans women, see women as incomplete without a man, we must call it out – name it, make it visible, not collude with it – find a way to bring it out into the open explain why you are offended and ask for an apology for not just yourself, but for all women and men.

Become vigilant and keep your ears and eyes open, because some of these comments and images, phrases and insinuations sneakily find their way through cracks accidentally created in times of less vigilance. Sing through the pain and find your voice. Click through the trolls and press report, delete and bring them out from under their rocks. Play your guitars and cross the rivers of oppression with tambourines like Miriam. Tap on the wood and hear the hollow bring a death knell to the words of abuse being tapped on other instruments of communication. Hold onto the edge of your skirts, jackets and vests with the kind of precision that tells everyone around you – you have arrived and ‘ain’t goin’ anywhere soon. Look to the floor to make sure you are not treading on others as you make your way, and to the sky for inspiration and to give you cover when you need it.

There is a woman in Downing Street and in Edinburgh, another one making her way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and many more to come, however women in leadership is not enough. Sexism leaving us, is for the girls who want to go to school in Pakistan, for the girl who needs health care when she has been raped, for the girl who is lost at sea when fleeing from violence, for the girl who is lonely and afraid of her father in her own home, for the girl who is saving to go to university by working as cheap labour in a fast food chain.

This is a flamenco and a fury of singing, guitar playing, dancing, vocalisations, hand clapping and finger snapping – nothing less – we need it all – where the dance calls us to attention. The tune and the lyrics born from sadness to rise in a flurry of stomps and clicks and bring a new way of dancing together. This is not a time to dance alone.



Dancing with Speeches #28 Francis of Assisi

While we can’t be completely sure St Francis gave his speech, a cosmic rhapsody, the Canticle of the Sun is attributed to the 12th century monk from Assisi and is the inspiration for this week’s dance from the vantage point of the River Murray.

Dear Friends,

I speak to you today from the banks of an ancient river, lost to the inland and often struggling to find its voice. Home to an abundance of creatures and more likely to be silenced by others than to speak for herself. She rests gently between two banks and gets separated by man-made devices who regulate her passage across the land.

The creaks in the house boat give a little, adjusting to the changing temperature as day breaks, as the earth beneath expands opening up to welcome the rays. Next comes the warmth from Brother Sun as he finds his place in the sky, settling in to cast both light and shadow. There is no place to hide, all of creation is conspiring you to applaud and rejoice in the wonder and beauty. The smallest of creatures the ants make their way to water, collecting nano drops of hydrogen and oxygen to sustain their tiny lives. The pelicans rise in formation from the fog on the river, with their head wind breaking captain pointing them to food from her vantage point. Corners of the sky compete on how blue they can be (the west is winning).

Teeming with life and promise, the day breaks confident it will unfold and ready to receive what is offered. The day brings yes and, not yes but. Here is some fresh air would you like birdsong with that? Here is some greenery, would you like all the colours of the rainbow as well? Here is some laughter, would you like sighs and crying so you know what joy is?

All affairs of the heart leave you poetically speechless, overwhelmed by the astonishing thought that you are loved back for who you are, no strings attached, unconditional, pure. When Creation sings her song to you, wooing you and wowing you with her beauty, seduction is inevitable and surrender the only option.

Rapturous and voluptuous clouds confirm Brother Sun readily accepts the instruction to shine. And in his shining, he fills every nook and cranny, finding himself slipping through cracks no one thought possible, even at times, appearing as if coming from the bowels of the earth, refracting off complicated sets of angles and mirrors masquerading as flints and glass. He banishes fog bringing clarity by burning off the clouds who get in the way, letting them fade and dissolve. Letting the sun do his work is a lesson for us at any time – light is the most powerful of all instruments when it comes to revealing truths.

Be seduced my friends and yes, surrender. Surrender to the light and to majesty. Bow down to the ants and look up to the pelicans, prostrate yourself to the sky – they are your teachers and you are their apprentice. Let the Master of the Universe with his first brother, Sun, shine in your life, into the dark and dank places to reveal the truth of who you are: full, completed and a loved piece of Creation.


PS: Long before Brother Sun was named by Francis, a mighty warrior hunted the Murray cod and made the river.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.50.04 am

Source accessed 9 July 2016

Dancing with Speeches #27 Malcolm Turnbull

An angry Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stepped into the Wentworth Ball Room a place that has been home to highs and lows for decades for the Liberal Party, a conservative political party in Australia. His speech failed on so many levels, accountability, respect for the office, compassion and commiserations for colleagues who had lost their seats. Various commentators have already had their say, my dance is to re-write the speech.

My fellow Australians and Party members– thank you for coming out tonight to join me in raking over the coals on what has been a long campaign. These past eight weeks we have traversed the nation, I have listened in to the broken hearts of Tasmanians who lost their homes and livelihoods in floods, I have laughed along with children in schools taking in more STEM subjects to prepare them for the new economy which is already here and that they will be shaping, I have jumped on trains, trams and buses and made promises to consolidate the transport infrastructure our capital cities will need to be competitive and attractive to investors and workers. I have been humbled by the wonder and creativity of our greatest minds, entrepreneurs and risk takers willing to step up to the challenges ahead and inspire us to finance their ventures.

Tonight we sadly farewell those who have stood alongside of us in the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Australians. Everyone who lost their seat on our side of the house took their electorates to the wire – I personally want to thank Wyatt Roy and Peter Hendry for their support and I am sorry I won’t have them to call on in the next Parliament.

I am shocked there isn’t a clear result tonight, and we have to hear what this means for our Australia – while there is a division and uncertainty ahead – it is time for us to take a collective breath and realize that our vision and dreams for this country are not shared. People are worried and scared that they will be left out and left behind, the poorest communities moved further away from our values and into the arms of populist politicians and some even to the very edge of the most racist and acrimonious of views.

I take responsibility for the result. I could have called the election earlier and ridden on the wave of the honeymoon when I was first elected by the party room, I could have waited a few more months to the time when the election would have been due and not pulled the double dissolution trigger, I did neither – I took us to an election to get a clear mandate for industrial relations legislation to be passed by both houses – that was clearly a mistake as tonight’s result shows. The Senate will be less unified than it was 2 months ago and I am not sure we will be able to form even a minority government, only the days ahead as our wonderful Australian Electoral Commission staff, plough their way methodically through each and every ballot paper to make sure every vote counts.

Having a vote is the right of every citizen and we will honour that right by allowing the AEC to take the time they need to do that work without political interference.

I turn to my staff, my friends in the party and most of all my family and say thank you for all you do for me and for our nation. Your steadfast belief in our shared values is like oxygen to me and tonight while my heart beats furiously and I am somewhere between shame and fear and feel starved of air, it is your care and love that will help me through the night and the days and nights ahead as the results of the election are revealed with each ballot counted.

Living with uncertainty and managing complexity is the challenge for all modern leaders. During these days and nights, while we wait, I will look carefully at the results and listen to what the electorate has said and notice what the votes mean around the country and for my leadership and for the leadership of our party.

Thank you to all of you staying up so late and waiting with me in what feels a bit like the Garden of Gethsemane and I look forward to fronting you again in a few days with news that is clearer than what we have tonight.