Arts, Dance, Science, Health


Dancers 'spoofing' the science.

Dancers ‘spoofing’ the science.

Last year (2013), I had the privilege to attend two wonderful national events in the arts: The Inaugural DANscienCE Festival in Canberra hosted by the CSIRO Discovery Centre; and the 5th International Arts and Health Conference in Sydney.

The DANscienCE Festival in August 2013 was eight (8) days of presentations and demonstrations of: the science of dance; scientific ideas that can speak to dance and movement art; and dance speaking for science. Dance with ecological and ornithological themes; dance as sociological research tools; dance for healthy ageing; fluid dynamics; cognitive studies; and dancer’s health. I was asked to sit on a physiotherapy panel for an evening of presentations from 6 dance genres: ballet, hip hop, belly dance, hindu dance, african and contemporary (over 50s). The evening was, professionally, a great experience, especially as my co-panellist, Roz Penfold has previously held jobs with the Australian Triathlon Team and Australian Ballet. Evidence to that evening’s success, Glen Murray of MADEinTasmania, Australia’s best over 50s contemporary dance company, reported that he was using ideas from our discussion in his classes. The most ironical presentation of the week came from Deakin University’s Movement Studio who revealed that the Playstation NRL game was animated from the actions of dancers who can represent rugby moves better than rugby players (except the crunching tackles). As I now post this report, I am putting my support behind Liz Lea of Canberra Dance Theatre and organiser of the 2013 DANscienCE Festival, to organise another DANscienCE in 2015.

The International Arts and Health Conference focused on: creative ageing and mental health, which found me in workshops with Circus Mojo from the USA and clown doctor GP Mark Spitzer, Dancing with Poetry in the NSW Art gallery (among the Nolan’s); writing for resilience with Molly Carlille, palliative care manager; discussions on the design of nursing homes for happiness; conversations with the David Cutler,CEO Baring Foundation UK, Dominic Campbell Director Irish Beltaine Festival; UK Churchill fellow Paula Turner; Angela Lion of Arts Fusion, Singapore;and many delegates who brought a wealth of experience and aspiration to the place of the arts in the health industry, hospitals, and  community well-being. The conference coincided with public support from Federal Health Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, and his State and Territory counterparts, who endorsed a National Arts and Health Framework that was initiated by the Standing Council of Health Ministers in November 2011. As Federal and State Governments realize that there are not the resources to care for ageing ‘baby boomers’ unless there is a far greater increase in health and community support for the older person, it is becoming clear that the arts have a HUGE contribution to make in all areas of health interventions and a healthy life.


MultiCulturalism and ANZAC Day

Image of poem and graphic "Anzac Day"

Anzac Day by Owen Allen 1994

I am posting here the whole media release of Dr Farvadin Daliri who was, this year appointed by the Australian government, a People of Australia Ambassador.

My own response was: “My wife and I sing with ‘Sing Australia’ in Atherton and will be singing for ANZAC Day celebrations. This year we are also performing the New Zealand National Anthem in both English and Maori. Our Atherton group is rather white anglosaxon, however we often sing with the Mareeba group that has a large number of Italian and Spanish background people. The groups will also go to Ingham in July to sing in the Italian Festival. We sing for Australia Day, and also for small local community events. Everyone really enjoys each other’s company, especially in this common endeavour. There is one other community singing group in our local area – an acapella group – an offshoot of Beat Lehman’s ‘Acquapella’ from Townsville. I think there is hardly a song in their repertoire that is English.

So I agree with your main message, all people understand the gravity of ANZAC Day and most are enthusiastic in commemoration. There is definitely opportunity for ANZAC Day organisers to make space for new comers. And for those who come from cultures who weren’t so involved in that theatre, the opportunity of ANZAC Day is always the opportunity to reflect on how futile war is, in the context that most Australian families at the time lost sons, and I think everyone can empathise with that.

Personally, I often use the day to remember that it was Australian and British troops who, at the end of WWI, saved the life of Abdu’l Baha and the fledgling Baha’i community based in the Haifa area, and that lead to the inauguration of the ‘Save the Children’s Fund’ in Europe, a British knighthood for Abdu’l-Baha for his services in preventing famine in the Haifa region during WWI, and the extraordinary service that has grown across the world through Baha’is of all cultures who have been inspired by Abdu’l-Baha.”

My poem on Anzac Day, here, was written in 1994 after watching an ANZAC Day parade in Perth. For those of you who know your Qu’ran, you might recognise the reference to it in “clots of blood’ (Rodwell translation).

Acceptance of the ANZAC day is a reality of Australian Multiculturalism
Media release
Dr Farvardin Daliri OAM, People of Australia Ambassador
On behalf of the
Townsville Intercultural Centre Ltd.
Office of the Cultural Fest 2012
Transition for Change 2012; Unity in Diversity International Conference

Anzac Day is historically a significant Australian commemoration. ANZAC day is about remembering those who gave their lives for the greater good. Soldiers do not make decisions about going to war, rather they offer their life as a service to their country and in this respect, soldering is a universal phenomenon and is trans-cultural. The celebration of Anzac Day is one of the highlights of Australia’s cultural traditions and calendar and is part of what Australian people do in this country. Multiculturalism is also an Australian innovation, meaning that every member of the community respects and accepts other people’s cultures, celebrations, ideals and expressions. In this context Multicultural Australia must respect ANZAC day and there should be no doubt or discussion about it. If for a moment one considers opposing the ANZAC day commemoration, the whole idea of Multiculturalism will be challenged and invalidated, that is because, within the framework of Multiculturalism, acceptance is essentially inclusive, and cannot exclude respect for ANZAC day and those who are passionate about it.

The recent suggestion that the celebration of Anzac Day is not compatible with multicultural aspirations is an unfair and divisive attack on the social fabric of Australia. This is clearly an attempt to divide Australians on the very issue, on the very basis on which they are united.

The report claims that there have been consultations and focus groups costing some millions of dollars. I have lived in this community for long enough, I have never been consulted with and know no one who has been consulted on this issue. No one asked me whether or not I have an opinion about Anzac Day. Who does this report claim to “represent”? Whose views are represented here? Is it the faceless men behind the scene again having a go at the very roots of the community and at our unity and harmony? Making people take a stance against each other? People; immigrants, refugees under whatever circumstances or conditions or categories have chosen to arrive here in Australia, they “choose” to come here because of what it is and how it is, a wonderful free and inclusive nation “as it is”.

What is unique about Australia’s multiculturalism is the fact that many cultural groups and individuals have made Australia home because of one thing; acceptance and freedom and this has been the ground rule for everybody. On the same basis and by the same token Anzac day commemorations should be accepted by all as a prominent part of Australian diversity.

The prediction that in 2015 Multiculturalism will be non compatible with ANZAC day is figment of few people’s imagination and has nothing to do with the reality of multiculturalism. The announcement of this report is very upsetting for me personally because I have worked hard almost a lifetime with people in this community to address the issues of community cohesion and acceptance. I tried hard to add value to Australia through enhancement of cohesion and unity. So when I see that the whole bandwagon of multiculturalism is being derailed and high jacked by these baseless assumptions that do no good to anyone I feel disappointed. I feel that if there is anything wrong in Australian it is exactly this aspect which is related to limited pockets of wasted interest who have a divisive mindset in our community and is un-Australian. I have never heard in over 30 years of one single person having an objection to Anzac Day. People may choose not to attend ceremonies for their own personal reasons. To say that this is something that should not happen is absolutely based on someone’s dream of dividing this community on the basis of the colour, ethnicity and culture. There is no way that we can deduct multiculturalism from Australia’s social fabric. Whenever there is an attack on multiculturalism and whenever someone tries to demean or project a negative image, it is like attacking the heart of Australia. It is a fact that this negative energy will carry through to young people, through the school yards. People will start looking at each other with suspicion and that will become a real problem of division.

Australian multiculturalism is not an ethnic multiculturalism but a uniquely Australian concept that has evolved into the most beautiful of social combinations with the heritage that we have from both indigenous and Australian mainstream cultures and the many cultures and ways of life that have come in peace and have settled in together forming this wonderful nation Australia.

Every now and then someone attacks this marvelous achievement and tries to draw the lines between us and them, an “it doesn’t work so let’s give up” approach. This report has gone too far. ANZAC day is part of our Australian tradition. Why would anyone want to wreck it? People can celebrate whatever they want from significant cultural events to religious festivals and traditional ceremonies. Wonderful Australians support such events, and enjoy them no matter how strange they seem to be. We have so many reasons to celebrate life. People can go and celebrate and do what suits them. The government and community supports them. This whole fiesta of celebrations also includes those celebrations
and commemorations that are important to mainstream Australians. Welcome to Australia Multiculturalism.

I personally respect those who celebrate ANZAC day and their aspirations. I try to learn more and understand and be educated about this great day. I would encourage and support other people to do so. If I do not respect the mainstream culture and traditions how can I expect them to respect and understand newcomers to this land? It is my view, my common sense and sense of decency, telling me that I need also to understand the culture of my host community. Then I can expect a mutual acceptance and respect. Then I can hope that multiculturalism and mutual acceptance and integrity of being equal in the community is working.

I hope that Cultural Fest 2015 will organise activities in commemoration of this important centenary of ANZAC day. This is my commitment.

Dr Farvardin Daliri OAM
Townsville Intercultural Centre Ltd.
Office of the Cultural Fest 2012
Transition for Change 2012, Unity In Diversity International Conference
Mobile: 0414356875

RIverside 2011 – A Poem

Lake Marshall, Riverside

Owen overlooking Lake Marshall

We heard our name called out

from the boarding desk.

Standing around, talking,

we nearly missed our flight out of Cairns.

In Brisbane we caught our flight

in a timely fashion,

not a moment to spare.

15 hours and 5 movies later,

we queued in a customs snake.

Behind us by a few,

a girl with a puppy dog tic

brought the officers to alert,

running to inspect

for illegal importation of a dog.

Her sister had to explain loudly.

We hoped she wasn’t too embarrassed.

Finally, joyfully, we saw

 Nathan and Danielle

had risen early, early, on a

cold, rainy day LA,

bringing to my mind the song

“It never rains in Southern California”

forgetting that the following line of the song is

“but it pours..”

That night we slept deeply

in exhaustion

waking with Danielle’s loud telephone voice.

M’God, it’s 10:30

No plans.

Danielle went to a class at St Benardino University

We went with her.

To a fabulous little art museum

showing exciting colourful, evocative works,

a Buddha plasticine sculpture activity,

then prowled the campus.

As evening fell

Soroor and Danielle organised

a visit to Nathan’s work

to meet a cheerful team of

Evelyn, Gustavo,  Kristine, Patty, Ron.

Dinner at the Olive Garden.

Tues Day 3 Soroor ran to catch a bus

while I hobbled on knees

that seemed to have died on the flight over.

We took the bus to the other end of Riverside

to Galleria on Tyler.

Soroor noticed “You’re a minority on this bus”,

in a smug, I’m feeling quite comfortable, voice.

And Tigga went “Sigh, I hadn’t noticed”

At Galleria we over-ate for one.

Our bus trip back was planned meticulously.

Spending time looking around the Mission Inn,

then coffee,

and missed the bus.

Soroor borrowed a phone.

We caught the next one.

Dressed up and experienced

a nocturnal freeway drive

to the Baha’i Feast in Corona

Wednes Day four Nathan takes work for the Thanksgiving weekend

Took a drive

California State orange orchard / Lake Marshall / Chipalettos

Dropping in on Nathan’s boss, Linda

Soroor is relaxed and secure,

everyone loves her baby.

Another freeway ride

to Murrietta

Jazzae played Basketball

we cheered.

She shot, she scored.

we cheered.

We went on to

Tash and Afshin’s

for Thanksgiving.

Thurs Day five I got up a dawn

as the Arneson family rose

to prepare Thanksgiving repast.

The turkey took a basting.

I stepped in as Tash’ stunt arm.

Drank coffee, distracted the children

looking for Thanksgiving songs with the IPad,

peered at Tash’ nicnacks

more guests arrived,

we ate and talked,

sang a Slim Dusty song,

and late, drove the freeway back to east riverside.

Fri Day six slowly offered the possibility of

a trip to a wholesaler.

I took a hike on the hill nearby,

surprised at the sponginess of the grass and soil,

and the steepness and openness of the slope,

reminding me I am scared of falling from heights.

I hiked down.

We got back on the freeway

to Corona to study

a Baha’i course, RuhiBk8, with a local group

Satur Day seven saw a tour

of the UCR botanical Garden

that has cacti, rocks, and a view of the suburb.

Soroor and Danielle cooked dinner

for her family and later enjoyed

the Riverside Christmas Lights display.

Sun Day eight a longer excursion to

Newport beach and a Kebab & Persian shop.

Staying awake to attend a commemoration,

the Ascension Abdu’l-Baha’

in San Marino.

Mon Day nine we caught the bus

on time to Las Vegas.

Booking in to the 26th floor of the Luxor,

a pyramid of rooms,

with quarter wall corridors,

looking down into the foyer,

reminding me

that I am very scared of falling from heights.

Soroor leans over the balcony to get a good view.

Prowling the lights,

hungrily we stopped at a grill

where the food was quite boring and the sport TV very loud.

Walking on we came across

our first delight

the Bellagio fountains.

Diving in and out every hotel we came,

we learnt that dodging show spruikers

was part of the Las Vegas game.

Tues Day ten began with brunch in Denney’s

 – yippee –

And then we walked the strip

for hours,

deciding that Caesar’s Palace is número uno

and back to the hotel next to our hotel

 the Mandalay to see

“The Lion King”

– so grand, so fantastically enjoyable –

Sweet Crepes became a late dinner.

Wednes day eleven straight to Denney’s for breakfast

Walked more of the strip

Costumed buskers – Kandy Floss, Transformers, Elvis, Mickey, Garfield, Willy Wonker,

Club spruikers, Moving billboards selling girls

Treasur Island, Wynns, Palazzo, Venetian

it goes on.

We hit a large buffet for lundinner

Then to the

Phantom of the Opera

at the Venetian.

As if to set the mood, the evening turned very cold and windy.

It was mindboggling.

The chandeliers flew around the ceiling,

and fell.

Reminding Soroor in a scream

that she is scared of things falling on her.

Thurs Day twelve we slpt in to check out

Breakfast at MacDonald’s inside the Luxor.

Bus back to cold, cold,

Fremont st, the original casino area of LA

Bus back to Riverside

The traffic inbound to Las Vegas,

a sight to behold.

At Barstow in the desert,

we got out of the bus for a break.

We missed the Bus.

It left without us.

Taking our bags, iPad, and camera.

“There are no more greyhounds ’till tomorrow”, says the greyhound ticketer,

who sent a message to riverside bus depot

that Danielle would meet it and get our bags.

We caught an American Lion to Colton

Danielle and Nathan did the circuit

picking bags, then us up

and fed us Curry.

Fri Day thirteen we went shopping

Sorted photos,

Watched wedding video of Kelsey and Nathan

Went back to study Ruhi Bk 8

At Burritos at Albertos

-a must for all food adventurers-

Satur Day fourteen got up slowly

Bags all packed

Took the freeway to Hollywood

walked head down,

dodging spruikers in costumes,

checking out the stars on the footpath

and the handprints

at Sid’s Chinese Theatre.

Lunched on the roof

Soroor searched for souvenirs

Sun already going down

Found our way to the Getty Museum

amazingly sitting on a rock overlooking LA

Millions of dollars of art

reminding me I am scared of falling from heights.

Soroor fell down

on a marbled floor.

Plenty of time to catch our flight for a midnight departure,

Burritos near Venice beach

then to the airport by 9:45

“Wait by the phone,” we joke with Danielle and Nathan “in case we miss the plane”.

“Check in is quiet”, noticed Soroor to the lone check in guy.

“Because the flight is about to close”, he chastises.

“What!” we exclaimed, “for a midnight flight?”

“It leaves at 10:45, maam”, he replies boredly.

We keep it straight.

Later, we giggle a lot.

Couldn’t wait to tell Danielle.

Three movies and a some deep sleep to Brisbane,

we had breakfast with Kels, Sep, Reubs.

The prices are outrageous.