Monthly Archives: August 2016

Dancing with Speeches #35 Pachebel

This week’s speech dances with a classical piece of music. Instead of words, the speech was Pachebel’s Canon in D. The occasion was the 3880th registration of a marriage by the civil servant officiating. Witnesses attended in real life and via a range of digital devices and platforms.

There was a celebratory toast sans speeches to the bride and groom. From the 17th Century Pachebel’s Canon in D Major was written to match the beat of the human heart – could there be a more perfect choice for two lives being joined in a common journey?

Playing this canon at 60 beats per minute, the speed of a sleeping person’s heartbeat brings the dreaminess of incomprehensible love, where no words are adequate and only a toast by witnesses will align the external joy with the inner peace of the happy couple. The polyphonic of voices playing the same music together and in sequence is the pattern of a canon, and so it is with marriage, a sequence of familiar steps taken together, with the provision for independence with the depth of sound to carry and hold. A subtle, delicate progression may continue on regular rotation, as so much of life is routine, but is not unchanging.

The music blesses.

May you always find peace and solitude and rest for your selves as individuals and as a couple.

May you find the heart beating in regular time when there is nothing else regular around you and turmoil, disappointment or despair come to haunt.

May you build on the foundations of D major, the key of triumph, of Hallejuahs and war cries, marches, holiday songs, and heavenly rejoicing angelic choruses.

May this soundtrack offer constancy and fidelity to your shared dreams.

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Dancing with Speeches #34 Jesse Williams

At the end of June, Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams received the Humanitarian award from Black Entertainment TV. His speech was widely acclaimed by his peers in the industry for its direct and uncompromising statements around racism, activists on the front line, organised resistance and those making money out of the industry.  WIlliams is being touted as the new Harry Belafonte – 60s black rights activist.

Read the Full Transcript of Jesse Williams’ Powerful Speech on Race at the BET Awards


It’s never too early or too late to thank your parents, your teachers and the ones you choose yourself to share your life and who invite you into theirs.

The equation of one and one is never two, there is always a multiplier effect, even when we act as if we are alone we aren’t – all the DNA has come from somewhere and we join our story to others and our story comes from others. We are part of an amazing system of molecules and moments whirring together through time and space and somehow collide and we are formed – a temporary configuration that will whirl away in good time too.

As the droplets of water erode the hardest of rocks, so will molecules mobilizing for equity give birth to movements where justice stands tall and inequality, discrimination and prejudice dissolve.   Erosion of hate and fear starts with the salt water of tears. There is no other place to start. Without the tears, the anguish and the tide of anger cannot rise. More than a king tide, we have a tsunami of emotion rolling in from the horizon – and when it hits land there will be damage. The deaths of young blacks on the streets of the USA are collateral canaries in the inequity coal mine of that country and the reality TV show that is this year’s Presidential election is just adding more fuel to that fire. Here in Australia we don’t have far to look, colonialism has left a gap that is taking generations to resolve and the idea that equality and equity are around the corner for the oldest of cultures on our planet is not going to happen in my lifetime.

What would freedom from infant mortality look like? Or freedom from premature death? Or freedom from kidney disease? Or freedom from child abuse? Or freedom from violence? And more importantly, what would it take?  We have some taking to do!  How about taking away racism, intolerance, ignorance? How about taking away disease and despair? How about taking away fear?

Get to know the history and understand.  Lets start with a tear and an ache, lets build on each sob and hear a guttural cry goading us to be our best selves and add magic to our molecules and see a flash mob dancing, mobilized, keeping it real and moving to a freedom beat. Get yourself organised, get organising.


Dancing with Speeches #33 JK Rowling

In 2008 JK Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books, gave a commencement speech at Harvard.  She pointed to failure and imagination as the key lessons to pass on to the new graduates, in the assumed knowledge that everyone forgets the commencement speech. her words have continued to inspire and be remembered. 

Being a wall flower, sitting to the side and watching everyone else on the dance floor, wondering if you are ever going to get an invitation to get up to dance, waiting, waiting and then finding your way to the edge of the room, hoping no-one is noticing you embarrassed and alone. The opportunity to dig deeper into yourself to find another way to define the socially awkward moment, the improvisation required to adjust your dress, tie your shoe lace, collect a drink, remove yourself to the wash room to take yet another comfort stop which is needed for camouflage – all ways to go deeper into the experience of rejection and to the well of your resilience knowing more drops have been added and you are still not drowning.

We don’t easily forget those moments of whole-world humiliation – where the whole of our known world cannot see us, feel us or touch us – as if we have a cloak of invisibility thrown upon us – not one we would choose. From this place we begin lift, to reach into our strength and find our imagination there waiting for us. Imagination casts spells and lights up all the corners of the brain more dazzling than any mirror ball we become bespeckled and dots of thoughts start to dance around in our heads – more often than not turning mole hills into mountains when fear takes hold – but what happens when the gather into constellations and take us to grand halls, wizardry and magic start to happen. We literally have off the wall ideas, only possible from being still and sitting on the sidelines, unpicked.

Hardships and humiliations, experiencing failure, as opposed to having a fear of failure is real and getting a good taste of it is not the romanticism of poverty, it is knowing what the dark is finding yourself at the bottom as with all bottoms there is no where else to go. It is a solid place, a place where you are connected to the earth, it is a platform from where you can build, as you can fall no further. It is where you can only turn inwards and in the deep, in the dark and at the bottom find yourself and what you have left of yourself, your essence, your imagination and your abilities. This is when you reach out, to the world, to find help and courtesies random acts of kindness where your heart no longer hard starts to melt with the simple joys of sunshine, stars and smiles. You begin to build the bank of resilience and of love where the imagination fuels the dark and dank places and gives respite to whatever fear, horror or loss you are facing. A place where you can’t be touched and where your imagination helps you fly away and do cartwheels in the air.

Plutarch said : What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.  This is the gift of the wallflower experience to achieve inwardly, to look and find within yourself what your hopes and dreams are, the things that keep you awake at night, or energise you to get out of bed in the morning. These aspirations for yourself, your family, your community and our world first find a footing in your imagination. Freedom for those in detention centres in far off islands, a future planet that has conquered climate change or adapted with amazing technologies, equal pay for women and education for all girls – these first begin in the imagination; in the dungeon of rock bottom when there seems no where else to go but up the energy rises first in you and then you join with others and magic does happen – slaves become free, women get elected as Prime Ministers and Presidents, polar caps being renewable energy sites, children are no longer abused. What began as a wallflower moment may well turn into a blooming field of promise and then harvest – go to the dark, quiet place of humiliation and use that fertile place to grow your imagination and then get onto the dance floor and change the world.




Dancing with Speeches #32 Anna Meares

The 2016 Olympics have arrived and Australia’s flag bearer, cyclist Anna Meares addressed the Australian contingent. Her simple speech of pride, overcoming adversity and being tenacious was heartfelt and brought a tear to everyone’s eyes including the Governor General. Anna knows something about spinning round so this week’s speech does a pirouette with some of Anna’s sentiment.

To all the dignitaries and dignified in our band of merry sporting warriors I say welcome to Rio.

Over the coming days we will have our highs and lows, times when we just don’t think we can go on and time when the adrenaline is pumping through us we won’t know where that last ounce of energy will come from.

I am the daughter of a coal miner from sunny Queensland – a place where like Brazil we imported black labour to work our fields and those from far off shores have made their home no longer enslaved but still with gaps in health, education and achievements on the sporting field.

While I am here I am going to strive for my best, feel proud of the green and gold on my body and that spirit of Australia inside my body.

The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

It is not just about the competition.

Where I come from, Blackwater in Central Queensland is on the lands of the Ghungalu people. All of us in the team live on what has always been, is now and always will be Aboriginal land, get to know your country, walk it and let it talk to you, draw from its strength. I have learnt a lot from getting in touch with my own dreams – I never thought a girl like me from country Queensland would be at the Olympics – let alone more than once. Draw on your dreams and dig deep into the dreams of those who have gone before us. Call on the dreaming of our ancient lands to protect and inspire us as take our steps, strides, jumps, walks and throws with us into Rio. Open your eyes to the sounds and stories of this country too and in the Olympic spirit of friendship.

So while we are here lets show Rio our Aussie friendliness too and the Aussie fair go. When I am not on the field I am going to make it my business to find out more about this country we are competing in. I am going to break the rules like Dawn Fraser before me, I am going to visit a favela and I am asking Kitty to come with me. I am going to ride my bike through Santa Marta and see for myself what all the fuss is about. I am going to talk to the locals and listen to their stories of endeavor and survival. After all seven times more slaves came here than went to the US, so they must know something about struggle and survival. I am going to find out about their fights and battles and what gives them pride.

I am going to ask you all to come and join me in cheering on Team Refugee as well – and see if a bit of their spirit can rub off on me.

And in the Olympic tradition I am going to value this amazing opportunity and strive to do my best and cheer you all on to do yours. Lets make Australia proud on and off the field – we are more than green and gold.


Sydney Opera House lights up in Green and Gold for Rio Olympics