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Performing Arts

The 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony (videos)

Lavish extravaganza overshadowed by an athlete’s tragic death.

A crowd of about 60,000 people was present at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Details about what exactly would happen were kept secret, though expectations were high because of Beijing’s expensive and critically renowned 2008 ceremony. In America, it garnered publicity because of the debut of the music video for the remake of “We Are the World”, which will raise money to aid Haiti. (Actually, the video aired about 13 minutes prior to the event.) $30 to $40 million dollars was spent on the LED screens that simulated tribal animal constellations, fabric hangings designed to look like icebergs and totem poles, high-wire acrobatics, pyrotechnics, lighting, costumed performers, and 108 projectors as Canadian celebrities including Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Nikki Yanofsky, Sarah McLachlan, and k.d. lang performed.

Described by an official as showing the world “what it feels like to be a proud Canadian”, the show mostly consisted of patriotic displays of Canadian culture. The introduction by aboriginal tribes, complete with a lighted bear representing the constellation Ursa Major was the highlight of all this, while the rest came off as a bizarre cross between Cirque Du Soleil and the ice capades. There was even hype about a “special guest” who would light the torch, who turned out to be hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

However, what the world will really remember tonight is the tragic death of 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died Friday morning after an accident during a practice run. The show opened by saying the ceremony was dedicated to him, while later on, committee members acknowledged the tragedy during their speech and a minute of silence was observed on Nodar’s behalf. During the parade of nations, the somber faces of the seven fellow Georgians competing moved the audience to a standing ovation. Despite all the pageantry and slogans about how the Olympics bring the world together, that moment really showed everyone something. Everyone can relate to or just understand the loss that they had experienced, and they tried their best to show it.

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