News: Paralymic Games Opens with a Bang

Thursday 30 August 2012

Last night the London 2012 Paralympic Games come home to the UK (they started at Stoke Mandeville alongside the 1948 London Olympics) with nearly 8 million viewers tuning in to watch the opening ceremony.

Dance and aerial performance was an integral part of the show, with representatives of many London and UK based companies amongst the performers, including StopGap, Flawless, Graeae, Gandini Juggling, Heart n Soul, whirling dervish Ziya Azazi and David Toole – well known for his performances with DV8 and Candoco – who performed in a stunning, airborne routine high above the central arena of the stadium.

Kevin Finnan Director of Motionhouse was the Movement Director for the whole ceremony, with Mark Smith (of Deaf Men Dancing), amongst others, choreographing sections.

Like the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Enlightenment used Shakespeare’s The Tempest as a starting point – with Sir Ian McKellen in the role of Prospero and Graeae’s Nicola Miles-Wildin as Miranda – but it’s main theme was a broad journey through the development of science– starting with the Big Bang, introduced by Professor Stephen Hawking, in a rare live appearance. It was directed by Jenny Sealey (Graeae) and Bradley Hemmings (Greenwich+Docklands festival and disability arts festival Liberty) . They said:

‘The Paralympic Games is the second largest sporting event in the world, and its taking place in our home city. We couldn’t be prouder to have been asked to direct the Opening Ceremony.
‘We wanted our Ceremony to be both spectacular and deeply human. Having worked together over a number of years we were determined that the Ceremony should speak from the heart, tell a story, showcase our world leading Deaf and disabled artists and rise to the emotional and historic occasion of the homecoming of the Paralympic Games.
‘We had an awesome creative team, a wonderful professional cast and an extraordinary team of volunteers to open the Paralympic Games and welcome the athletes with a theatrical and fun ceremony.’

Watch highlights of Enlightenment in the video clip here – or in full on the Channel 4 website

Images courtesy of London 2012

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