Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Comparing Opening Ceremonies

As I was watching the opening ceremonies of the Para-Olympic Games I was struck by the difference in tone. Not only did this opening have less flash, it had more heart. Gone were the international pop music acts and the overt spectacle. This ceremony was about the athletes and people that overcome adversity in general. Instead of a reworking of the Canadian anthem this version was sung without art by a para-olympian with a visible disability. This theme of foregoing celebrities in favor of real participants carried through the whole show. Two para-olympians formally welcomed the live and televised audience and many of the musical acts were disabled. One notable instance was a high energy rock performance with flames and fireworks performed by a Montreal artist with one leg and arms that were not fully formed. A break dance performance was lead by a Canadian dancer using only his upper body while his legs hung lifeless beneath him. Not only are these artists truly Canadian, they seem to represent the spirit of determination and drive that the games are supposed to be promoting.
All the dancers were local youth from dance companies all over the lower mainland. Much of the presentations were announced by young bilingual children, who were amazingly composed by the way. Special tributes to Rick Hanson and Terry Fox highlighted these famous Vancouverites that overcame disability and made a great impact on Canadian consciousness. The whole tone of the event was (in my opinion) extremely Canadian. With the Hollywood gone, we were left with a low key, heartfelt ceremony emphasizing fair play and peaceful interaction between nations. Many speakers reiterated the goal of the Olympics and Para-Olympics as a peaceful coming together of nations to showcase athletic excellence as well as good sportsmanship. If the opening ceremonies for the Olympics was for non-Canadians, I think this opening was it's antithesis. Rather than being entertained, I was proud to be Canadian and moved by the heart of the athletes.

1 comment:

  1. A very smart and astute comparison, Jennifer. And thanks for your thorough description of the event, as likely many of us didn't get a chance to see it.