Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"La Grèce! Greece! Греция!"

17 Days to go!
11 Days until our first dress rehearsal with audience!
9 Days until our first full dress rehearsal!

Olympic Cauldron with Fountains (video below)
Today was an important day in the creation of the ceremonies.  Our director is the executive of Russia's top news corporation, and he gave the OK for my segments.  I likely walked nearly 30 kilometers as well!

I am stressed but extremely excited.  Even through all the amazing things that I have have the fortune to contribute to during my relatively brief career as a professional artist and musician, I rarely let the feeling of excitement overtake me.  I try to remain as professional as possible, but today I couldn't help myself.  Today, I am on cloud nine.

The national anthem will be powerful and astonishing - in a way, it is overwhelming to conduct and rehearse one of the most important performances of their national anthem ever, especially thinking that each one of the singers represents hundreds of thousands of Russians.  I think it will exemplify everything that is Russia.  The people are very patriotic, but in a different way than Americans.  Whereas Americans complain about freedom, taxes, and the economy, Russians really don't.  The taxes are many times higher than the US, we all know the current news of Russian freedoms, and the economy is struggling.  They love their country very much, but they need a reawakening to a spirit that can unite them all once again.  I think that Olympics will do that.  And today, two moments resounded that made me believe that this could be a great healing for this important and proud country - the national anthem, and the parade of nations.

During the rehearsals of the parade, we needed flag bearers to walk in with the placard bearers and march around, so just like everything else during these games, I eagerly stepped in to help.  As is typical in the Winter games, the national anthem and parade of nations are at the very beginning, before all the artistic segments.  For the record, I was the first flag bearer for the Sochi 2014 games, as I carried Greece's flag through the parade for the first rehearsal.  The placard bearers are all supermodels, so I felt significantly out of place.  I also carried Monaco, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America.  As soon as they announced the United States in French, I screamed as loud as I could through all the translations of it (French, English, and Russian) - an appropriate response I think.  But when Russia entered, all the field marshals, placard bearers, construction works, our body guards, and even a stray dog marched in rapture, pretending to be the athletes of the Russian Federation.  It was a really special moment.

Even though the people in the United States may find some of the over-the-top patriotic features to be annoying or playing to a certain person's ego, please remember that Russia needs this.  Many of the people here love their country and have had few moments to celebrate it in the same ways that we regularly celebrate the United States.  And at the very least, keep in mind that I turned down opportunities to perform in order to have a great role in the production of the ceremonies, even though I, as well as many westerners, have many personal critical opinions.

But I am doing much more, and I will be excited to share with you all of those stories at a later time.  After rehearsal, I had the glorious opportunity to have a night in the Olympic Park all by myself essentially.  Security is impossibly penetrable, it takes me five pat-downs to get to work by the way.  But I had the Olympic Park all to myself!

Tomorrow, I will be fitted for my attire for the ceremony itself, and Thursday I will have a rehearsal in Fischt (the Olympic Stadium) until midnight or later.  Everything is coming together.  I am one of only nine in the ceremonies team to be able to see the entire ceremony - I feel extremely lucky for this opportunity!!

Hockey Arena 

Hockey Arena

Skating Arena

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