Commonwealth Games Glasgow Closing Ceremony. September 2014

Helen Rose Outdoors Diary.

Ceremony   This summer, Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games. I wanted to be part of it so volunteered to be in the cast of the Ceremonies. After the audition earlier in the year, I was offered a place in the Closing Ceremony. I have dance experience and I am still part of the Dancehouse, Still Dancing Company and the Scottish Ballet Regenerate project. I have participated in dance performances but not on the scale of the Closing Ceremony event which had 700 cast members and was held in Scotland’s national Football Stadium at Hampden Park.

There were some rehearsals before the Games started in July but most of the rehearsals took place during the period of the Games in preparation for the Closing Ceremony. It was a huge commitment with 12 days of rehearsals and the Stagger Through lasting ten hours. Most rehearsals were in the evening and over two weekends so any social life had to be put on hold during this time. Many of the volunteers had a cost in travelling to Glasgow, paying for accommodation and taking time off work as they wanted to participate.

It was a daunting task for the organisers to co-ordinate such a big event with a cast of largely inexperienced volunteers. Without sounding too negative, they really did not get it quite right in the choreography and placement on the pitch. For a mass event, my view is that attention to detail in storytelling in a dance is less important than placing the volunteers evenly over the pitch to create a kaleidoscope effect. The event was planned to capture the party mood of a music festival with the athletes coming out of the tents rather than being part of a parade. This was a great concept thought up by the Event Director but produced by the Choreographer Director. Most of the audience I have spoken to at the Ceremony said it looked like a lot of people just having a good time on the pitch with no real sense of organisation.

Star StageI was waving a flag in time to the music for the first three numbers. After the speeches, Kylie Minogue came on and we all danced to her numbers in our choreographed sections. It was very empty on my part of the pitch although there was a huge audience around. It just felt like a Kylie concert as she was on the star stage located in the centre.

However, the best bit for me was my fellow volunteers at the rehearsals where we were grouped into families with our dance captains. We bonded well and laughed a lot, sometimes at the expense of the choreography and the organisers! We all enjoyed the tea breaks and meals which were well organised. The range of people I met was fascinating from a retired stage director to students from abroad studying in Glasgow. Everyone was friendly and helpful and even with such a large number of people at the rehearsals in Bellahouston, there was never any theft of personal belongings. We rehearsed in all weathers from strong sun to wind and rain outside on the pitches of Bellahouston Sports Academy. On some days the rain ponchos were essential.

GlasgowUnderground-2tEveryday, I travelled to Bellahouston on the subway from the west end of Glasgow on our quaint little Victorian subway which only has fifteen stops on the circle. We call it the Clockwork Orange as it has orange coloured trains. The stations were in areas of large populations near the engineering and shipyards but these are long gone now. Glaswegians are very sentimental about the subway and it is heavily used by students as Glasgow University is near the station at Hillhead.

Anyway , back to the Ceremony. As the cast in the Closing ceremony, we were invited to participate in the rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony and to play the part of the athletes. I enjoyed parading around the stadium, with an audience of about 20, 000, under the PNG flag with the little Scotty Dog mascot at the front. Our Scotty did not want to walk forwards but to walk back to us so the owner had to pick it up and walk with it. These are very stubborn little dogs but so loveable. There are not many left now so the promotion might help them regain popularity. They used to be a regular feature on holiday postcards in Scotland.

SCOTTISHTERRIERI enjoyed participating in the Closing Ceremony as a cast member. It was very hard work and a huge time commitment. I was disappointed that nowhere in the media was there an acknowledgement of the volunteer cast at the closing ceremony and the organisers did not appear to welcome feedback. Would I do it again? No………. but it was a great experience!

Coming attactions; Venice and the River Po and Falkirk Wheel to the Kelpies.

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Venice etc. by Riverboat. October 2014
Trossachs, Three Lochs. August 2014

This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

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