Saturday, January 18, 2014

All Access Pass: Rehearsal Life

20 days to go!

14 days until our first complete dress rehearsal (with audience!)

Police Horses walk along the beach outside of the Olympic Stadium
After an early morning, I ventured to the Olympic Credentials Center, and received my new all access pass!  At the same time, my own rehearsal was running - with me absent obviously.  I caught up to my rehearsal, and was there for the next 9 hours.  By the end of my rehearsal, I was told that for the entire preparation of the games, it was the first and only rehearsal to begin and end exactly on time!  I was proud of that, but it is a cultural anomaly here in Russia to have anything on time.

My credentials - I had to cover up some sensitive (secret) info about my position 

To give you an idea of the organization, this is by far the most complicated and most massive and most secretive organizational structure with which I have been consumed.  I will give you an aerial shot of the complex.  Below, there are enormous garages that house many of our props and special equipment, tents that are specially designed and the exact size of the stadium floor, dining rooms, and security checkpoints.

The Olympic Stadium is the upper left corner, the large boxes are enormous.  They surround the stadium and off to the far top left is a field of 10 tents each the same size of the stadium field so we can rehears all the segments simultaneously.
Just to give you some historical perspective of this event, it unequivocally will be the most technical event in Olympic history.  Being a true historian of the Olympic Ceremonies, I will be able to make a better judgement on its place in Olympic history as we lead up to the opening night - many aspects are bound to change.  But secretly, our budget is about 4 times larger than the second most expensive Opening Ceremony (Beijing) and about 10 times larger than the third most expensive (London).  In addition, our audience base has escalated to over 4 billion people!!!  There is a lot on the line!

The garages to help move our technical equipment throughout the ceremony are ENORMOUS.  They move pieces in and out just like the Space Shuttle complex - and are similarly large.

The rehearsing tents are the exact size of the stadium floor.  They are gridded like a graphing field in mathematics, each line receiving a different letter of the Cyrillic Alphabet on the x axis, and numbers across the y axis.  We skipped the Cyrillic letters that were too similar for us English speakers, since most of the organizers are fluent in English.  Even though I won't be participating, I learned choreography with everyone and participated in the rehearsals as much as I could...before I twisted my knee!

These lunches are evidently adequate for Russians, but for Westerners they are a challenge.  Too small of portions, nearly no vegetables, high in fat, and usually over-processed.  Imagine instant turkey gravy on top of Vienna sausages, with a salad of pickled beets, pickled root of some sort, pickled peas, and hard bread.  They consume a dangerously small amount of water as well!
The rehearsal went very well, I was so curious to check out all of the other simultaneously run rehearsals, but I will have time for that at a later date.  I will also be able to divulge more information about my exact roles in the ceremony soon.  I found out yesterday some amazing news, that I am one of 9 members of the organizing committee to have a seat for a portion of the ceremony with the invited dignitaries!  Much more exciting news to come!

The best part of my day though was a full 8 hour sleep, with the balcony door open.  I haven't had to close it once since I've arrived; the temperature has been too perfect.

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