Rio 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony kicked off last night. I was curious to see what the Brazilians had created for the biggest show on earth: An Olympic Opening ceremony. And why would I write about the Opening ceremony of the Olympic games? Because it is close to my heart as I was part of London 2012. You probably don’t know this but I was a performer volunteer in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympic games that took place in London. It is something that fills me with pride and joy as even though I was one in a million-as they say- you need the one to make the million. I contributed somehow to create a wonderful friendly spirit the city enjoyed for a few weeks and to make an even better Opening and Closing ceremony.
What an experience that was walking into the Olympic stadium during the Opening ceremony as one of the Placard Bearers of the Athletes Parade section. The one where the flag bearer of every country walks carrying their national flag. I was the girl chosen to walk in the stadium with Cyprus next to tennis player Marcos Baghdatis.It was such a magical time for all of us involved that years on, we are all aware that once we were part of a once in a lifetime experience.
In case you wonder how come I have such good quality pics of myself walking in the stadium,well I really wanted some so that night I asked quite a few photographers from several agencies to please take a pic of Cyprus, many refused but being someone who never gives up, I eventually came across a very kind Japanese photographer and he mentioned he will try. I gave him my email and 3 months later to my surprise he emails me these photos. Forever thankful to him!ありがとう Arigatou!
I was not allowed to film that day but it was a very unique moment not to film my own experience at least.In any case, I was not releasing any footage till after it was all over so I did buy a small compact camera just for the sake of filming my behind the scenes.Here is the video I filmed of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony from my point of view.
We rehearsed for months in locations in the middle of nowhere or quite difficult to get to, we rehearsed many days on the pouring rain hoping that on the day of the Opening skies would clear. We got used to hours of waiting around eating a diet of pringles, apples and sandwiches but in the end , it was all very worth it for everyone involved even if no one got paid. Money is not everything in this world and it is wonderful that a lot of people think like that and volunteer their time to either create something or help others.
I went for a casting in November 2011 and got intimidated as soon as I arrived to the massive venue full of people wanting the same as me. To be part of the London 2012 Olympics. And then, the movement director told us; Image it is the night of 27th July 2012, and one billion people have their eyes on London and on you, imagine the feeling. I did imagine the feeling because I remember that at that moment when i looked around and felt small surrounded by so many people, an inner light entered my body because I put my heart and soul in everything they asked me to do. When I saw Danny Boyle in the distance keeping an eye on hundreds of potential cast members, I knew I had to be part of it all. And so , when a letter arrived in January 2012 saying I had been selected to be one of the girls in the Athletes parade and that I was also chosen to be part of the Closing ceremony , I wanted to tell everybody but we were told, to keep quiet as the whole ceremony was going to be a surprise and no good to spoil surprises.
During rehearsals they were very strict with photography. Photography wasn’t allowed and neither were social media posts about what we were doing. And because as rehearsals progressed we all realised Danny Boyle was creating something just too special, people kept the promise and they kept quiet. No one was selling pictures to the newspapers , no one was posting pictures to twitter or Facebook and everyone was excited about what was to come. A magnificent ceremony. A ceremony that had feeling and spoke to your heart. The key moment of the Opening ceremony for me, was The Pandemonium section showing the Industrial revolution in Great Britain with volunteer drummers led by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie performing a track by Underworld that gave the world and all of us there that moment, goosebumps . First time I heard this track it was a very cold, very rainy night in Stratford and everyone at the time was saying the London Olympics were going to be a complete disaster ,but the moment when the drummers came into the stadium during rehearsals, I just knew that the Ceremony was going to be a winner, it was just to beautiful and too powerful.
What was great about having Danny Boyle as the chief in command of the opening ceremony was that as an artist and filmmaker, he understood what politicians don’t. Like everyone living and working here, he is aware that London is made of nationalities from all over the world, that they are part of society not invisible people who are just here, that to represent a city you need to be inclusive not exclusive and that people do come in all shapes, forms, ages, colours, backgrounds. London 2012 was all that and more, the spirit of the volunteers took over the city for three weeks and i have never seen London so vibrant, so friendly, happy and kind.Sadly, that spirit is gone but living and breathing such a positive vibe made you feel alive, the spirit was contagious.
My two videos about my experience during the opening and closing ceremony have been praised by many of the people who were part of the ceremonies,its the point of view of someone who would have gone unnoticed otherwise but my excitement was shared by many of my colleagues who now probably regret not having filmed their own experience.
Recently, the BBC contacted me asking for my footage for a programme they did on the Olympics. They loved the videos and they wanted them, however my footage has been online for four years now and somehow, it felt good to say no to them.What matters to me the most is that for a few weeks in the summer of 2012 I was part of a group of wonderful people who made life just a little bit better for everyone around us. We achieved this just by being the best version of ourselves. It was volunteers who made the London 2012 Olympics the best of the 21st century. You cannot buy kindness, you cannot buy smiles, energy, friendliness and positive vibes and all of us together we brought that to the stadium, to the city , and to the world the summer of the London 2012 Olympics. A wonderful moment indeed and a shame the legacy has not lived to its expectations.
To watch more videos I filmed during London 2012 including the 100, 200 and 400m men’s final click this link https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLf4ED7AiU5-zTo6eZivE1y_Fb7AopfVT7
Below Im sharing a video and pictures of London 2012 closing ceremony