Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Big Finale

9 Days to go!
3 Days until our first dress rehearsal with audience!
TOMORROW is our first full dress rehearsal!

Full runs are about to begin!  I am incredibly excited.  For those accustomed to theatrical productions, this ceremony will be rehearsed similarly to how any show would be rehearsed.  Segments of the show (scenes) are separately rehearsed and are eventually pieced together to form larger segments (acts) which comprise the entire production.  Many of these "scenes" have been rehearsed, choreographed, and recorded for many months in some cases.  Now is the time that we piece them all together, and in the coming days, we will add one of the most important elements, an audience.

Hiding in the shade at the sweltering Winter Olympics underneath the Olympic Park train station fountain, the Olympic Stadium in the far distance.  There's that pesky metal "palm tree" sneaking up on me again...I swear it's following me!
Unlike a musical, play, or opera, our dress rehearsals need an audience.  Nearly the entire show will be performed in these rehearsals except for any super-secret parts.  The last time the cauldron lighting event was rehearsed in front of an audience was nearly 22 years ago, for one of the most spectacular cauldron lightings in Olympic history.   Antonio Rebollo, a paralympic archer, launched a burning arrow over the cauldron in Barcelona (1992).

Antonio Ribello launches the flame into the Olympic Cauldron in Barcelona 1992 - CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Time lapse of Antonio Ribello's shot - CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Since then, the cauldron lighting event has been one of the most top secret parts of the Olympics.  And it seems that every few years, each Olympic host tries to top the other on the spectacle.  In 1994, the torch was ski-jumped into the Olympic Stadium in Lillehammer.  In 2000, the torch was dunked into a pool of water where the final torchbearer, Cathy Freeman, stood as a ring of flames surrounded her.  Eventually rising from the water, the cauldron ring would climb to the top of the stadium in Sydney.  In 2008,  the final torchbearer, Lin Ning, was hoisted to the roof of the stadium in Beijing where he "ran" a lap around, mid-air, eventually lighting a hidden cauldron, marking the first time the cauldron was kept a secret until the lighting event.  This same hidden cauldron ritual would mark the 2010 and 2012 lighting events.  In Vancouver (2010), the cauldron rose from the its hiding underneath the floor.  In London (2012), the cauldron was kept a secret by it actually being constructed during the ceremony itself.

Torch ski-jumped into the Olympic Stadium in Lillehammer 1994 - CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Cathy Freeman lights the Olympic Cauldron in Sydney 2000 - CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Li Ning flies around the stadium and lights the once hidden Olympic Cauldron - CLICK HERE TO WATCH

The Olympic Cauldron is constructed during the Opening Ceremony in 2012 - CLICK HERE TO WATCH

There is a danger to keeping secrets.  Just like music, if you don't practice enough, you may make a mistake.  The archer from 1992 missed several times in rehearsal before making his historic and dramatic shot.  For secret events, practice may not be all that possible, or else the surprise could be ruined.  The cauldron became stuck for nearly 5 minutes half-way through its watery ascent in 2000 until a worker kicked a steel bar and freed it from the lifting system's gears.  And in 2010, one of the four mechanical arms of the cauldron didn't emerge from the stadium floor, leaving a world-wide audience to stare for nearly 10 minutes until they continued with the lighting event with only three arms.   The wait was so long in fact, that the pre-recorded music ran out and had to unceremoniously be replayed before they could continue with the lighting.  The final arm would be lit, with the help of some humor, during the closing ceremony.

The Olympic Cauldron remained stuck for 5 minutes in 2000 before a worker cleared a steal bar in the way  - CLICK HERE TO WATCH

The mechanical Olympic Cauldron breaks as one 3 of 4 mechanical arms emerge from the stadium floor - CLICK HERE TO WATCH
There is always a risk.  Hopefully, the unexpected won't happen here in Sochi.

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