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Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Part 1

There are so many tasks unaddressed on my list but the Opening Cermony trumps everything.

In the preamble I was preoccupied with the polluted haze within the stadium, by the human rights issues that so concern me, by the censorship and the state's preoccupation with image over substance. Then all those drummers started to create patterns of lights that resolved into a digital countdown in arabic and chinese numerals. The house lights came up and the 2008 drummers in their satin gowns beat on their golden drums creating patterns of colour from their movements while triggering white lights within their drumheads. Down went the lights to reveal that their sticks were illuminated in red forming fractal bursts of scarlet sparks throughout the ground.

The rings appearing as sprinkled lights upon the ground was evocative enough but it became magical when they flew into the air. And then the red-dressed child sang purely into the crowd.

When the huge scroll unrolled on the arena floor I gasped. Even had this scroll been an end in itself I would be happy but the inky dancers drawing clouds, hills, and the sun on it took the whole thing to a new level. This was a continuing theme of the event: a remarkable thing would reveal something even greater. Dancers representing the 3000 Confucian disciples danced before the scroll turned into watery light into which blocks representing moveable types rippled in waves then formed images including ideograms and the Great Wall before sprouting peach blossoms and in the thematic twist opening to reveal that each block was operated by a person within.

Next came four puppeteers on a stage surrounded by hundreds of dancing drummers from the Peking Opera. This traditional entertainment included the ancient pipes and the costumes of antiquity. Imagery of Buddhist culture recurred throughout the ceremony. The next element showed two Buddhist dancers on a flexible floor supported by thousands of men representing the Silk Road. Then the world turned blue for an evocation of the maritime heritage using huge yellow oars to create ripples of striking colour to epic music. China lays claim to inventing the compass, as well as gunpowder and paper; this too was celebrated here.

Various aspects of Chinese music were our next focus, with powerful visual imagery projected on the scroll and represented by simple costumed dances. This segued into a review of dynastic cultures explored largely through massed historical costmes and 32 transforming pillars topped by men in grand robes. This sequence ended with another dramatic burst of fireworks.

Lang Lang, the renowned Chinese pianist played at a white grand piano with a five-year-old girl who seemed too excited by the sensation of the event to perform her part fully. The young pianist had a word with her and, after a grinning wave, she settled to her role. Brightly coloured illuminated dancers surrounded the piano and formed rippling lines as the scroll showed us modern China. The dancers' body lights changed colours to enhance the form of the dove that they created. From white to green, and as a girl launched a kite, the dancers formed a two-story version of the Birds Nest Stadium. The Stadium dancers dissolved and left in white lights.

Tai Chi long form opened a section about nature and harmonious existence. Translucent screens mingled with the few practitioners in their white costumes before the panoramic plasma screen above the stadium seating showed falling water. During the darkness below hosts of brightly costumed children recited poetry as 2008 tai chi practitioners depicted eight forms. The chanting children painted coloured pastorals on the scroll. Beautiful as this was, it reawakened my quiescent concerns about China's environmental pollution.

Darkness fell and the children leapt and screamed as projected birds took flight and the colured painting rose above the departing performers. From the darkness, suspended astronauts 'flew' into the arena as a huge globe rose through the floor. Gently illuminated from within, the blue globe climbed into the air with dancers wing-walking around its nine segmented rings. Atop the globe Sarah Brightman sang the "official Olympic theme" with Liu Huan. She looked and sounded good; so good that I felt ashamed of my doubts about the wisdom of choosing her.  (Trivial aside: Is that all her own hair? Gurgle!)

More fireworks! Many fireworks. The opening act draws to a close with traditional ethnic costumed  'dancing' consisting largely of arm-waving celebratory leaping about. Over fifty different costumes made this too hectic to take in. And so, at roughly the halfway mark, the athletes begin to enter the stadium.

The parade always seems interminable so I am off to prepare lunch.
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Comments

I guess that all those fireworks will mean that the UN forecasts of China's carbon emissions will have to be revised up again.
Lucky stiff. We have to wait another seven hours or so before we can watch.

Stupid American Networks.

(I'm not reading your comments yet.......)
Do you get the full four hours? Still no sign of the USA athletes... or the Brits.
I can't wait for the Taiwanese and Tibetan athletes!

Oh...
They were obscured by the pollution.
No idea yet. I hope so...
I should have realized you would be getting it before we would.
Thanks for the cut!!
Yikes! It never occurred to me that it would not be broadcast live in any developed nation.
There's "developed", & then there's "greedy corporate" nation.
Okay, now that I've had a chance to think about it, it
makes sense: we're 5 hours before you guys 12 hours
opposite the Chinese - it makes for perfect prime time
viewing, I can tell you.
I am offended!
So the cut has done its job!
Yes, now don't let it happen again!
OK, Boss.
grin

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