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The Olympic Cauldron


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I suspect the announcer will simply inform the 60,000 gathered that they couldn't solve the technical challenge of having an indoor cauldron, so the torch of the final bearer will be extinguished and everyone is to carry the flame in their hearts.

What about the millions of other people that weren’t at the ceremony?

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Upgrades needed for Olympic ceremonies: Report

By Bob Mackin, QMI Agency

Last Updated: 4th January 2010, 1:09am

The producer of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies pleaded for major spending at B.C. Place Stadium in a report obtained by the QMI Agency.

David Atkins Enterprises Productions Canada’s Ceremonies Capital Works report listed 21 items “required so that a world-class ceremonies can take place.”

“The opening ceremonies are a vital part of any Olympics and set the tone and vibrancy for the rest of the Games,” said the April 14, 2009 document. “If these works are not completed then the ceremonies will suffer and this will directly impact on the Games.”

Improvements were called “fit for purpose” or “capital works required for broadcast and media concerns.”

A key item was the building of the Olympic cauldron in the centre of the stadium floor.

The four metre by four-metre by four-metre, concrete-lined chamber required a one-metre diameter, 13-metre deep clear internal shaft. The report also called for carbon dioxide detectors, upgrades to air pressure control systems and a constant internal air pressure of 300 pascal to keep the fabric dome inflated.

The VANOC board voted secretly last May 20 to spend another $8.3 million at B.C. Place. VANOC deputy CEO Dave Cobb said in June that it was a capital cost “directly tied to the show that our executive producer wants.”

“We like to keep what we're doing secret until the ceremonies happen for the surprise element,” Cobb said.

The federal government pledged in February 2008 to pay half of VANOC’s $40 million budget for opening and closing ceremonies.

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This has to be a misunderstanding....surely, they mean the actual artistic portion of the ceremony is 90-minutes long, not the entire ceremony. Last I read, the opening is 3 hours and closing ceremony is 2.5 hours.

Ninety minutes - that's all he can say

Jean Grand-Maître, choreographer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics, can reveal little about the show. The process has been like 'doing 10 Cirque de Soleil shows at the same time'

MARSHA LEDERMAN

VANCOUVER — From Monday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Jan. 04, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Monday, Jan. 04, 2010 2:24AM EST

'Hi honey, how was your day?" has become a complicated question for Jean Grand-Maître.

When he returns to the temporary Vancouver home he shares with his partner near Granville Island, there's not much he can actually disclose about his day. As the choreographer of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics, Grand-Maître is under a strict confidentiality order: so no asking for advice, no gossip about the dance routines or costumes or sets - just short, vague answers.

"I can just say today was tiring, today was amazing, today was fulfilling," says Grand-Maître over a much-needed latte (his fifth of the day). "But you can't say too much. You can't say how many people are in the room with you, what the concepts are - especially that."

The stress is high and the perks non-existent. Free tickets to the ceremonies he's helping to create? Forget it. Grand-Maître, like everyone else, had to enter the online lottery. He managed to get a single ticket for both the opening and closing ceremonies for his partner ("not the expensive ones," he says).

What Grand-Maître, 46, will say is that it is an exhaustive (and at times exhausting) process, bringing thousands of volunteers together to create ceremonies that he says will represent the essence of Canada.

"You want to show your country to the world in a beautiful way that represents us intellectually, artistically, our amazing diversity." He is careful to point out that he is executing concepts that are coming from above - from executive producer David Atkins and his team, but adds that he's on-side. "I wouldn't have participated if I didn't like what they were going to do."

Grand-Maître, whose day job is that of artistic director at Alberta Ballet, says many of the ideas came out of the symposia Atkins and VANOC held two years ago, bringing in big thinkers in the arts from across the country to discuss their visions of Canada, and the ceremonies. Grand-Maître did not take part in those discussions, but he has been working on the ceremonies since last February, spending one week a month, and the entire month of June, in Vancouver. He's now moved to Vancouver for the duration and will return to Calgary - and Alberta Ballet - after the Olympics.

The days are long - some of his colleagues are working seven days a week, 14 hours a day - with meetings at offices in the Downtown Eastside and rehearsals in the big white tent next to BC Place. (They'll move into BC Place for rehearsals in early- to mid- January). Grand-Maître has a team of about 15 choreographers and assistants working under him for the enormous project. "It's like doing 10 Cirque de Soleil shows at the same time, that's how big it is," he says. "And it's exciting, it's a whirlwind."

Time is divided equally, he says, between rehearsing the opening and closing ceremonies. "You're working on both simultaneously," he says. "This is rocket science scheduling."

When Grand-Maître is backstage wearing his headset for the opening ceremony on Feb. 12, it will be his first in-person Olympic event. At 13, he drove with his family from Aylmer, Que., to Montreal for the 1976 Olympics, hoping to get tickets once they got there. They were out of luck.

But he has certainly watched enough Olympic ceremonies on TV to know the bar is high. "They say the opening ceremonies set the tone of an Olympics, so if the opening ceremonies are highly successful, there's a better chance of everything going well." He's less concerned about the world leaders who will be watching, than he is about the athletes. "For them it's the beginning of the adventure after so many years of sacrifice."

While Grand-Maître's background is ballet, there will be no classical ballet in the ceremonies but rather "a complete fusion of things ... a fusion of ideas and thoughts and people from different mediums of art." Reading between Grand-Maître's cryptic lines, it seems there will be a strong First Nations component to the ceremonies - not a surprise. Also, he lets slip a length for the opening ceremony: an hour and a half.

It is all being overseen by Atkins, an Australian, who created the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. Grand-Maître gushes about Atkins: He is full of energy and ideas, an innovator, a great leader who knows how to motivate volunteers. "He's a machine ... a beautiful inspiration," says Grand-Maître. When things are tense, Atkins cracks a joke. He never loses his temper despite the enormous demands.

"As it's getting more and more intense, you feel like he's a guy on a surfboard riding a hell of a wave. There's an energy but at the same time, precision. It's quite a ride."

The pressure is certainly on following the eye-popping opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Games. How will Vancouver be able to top that?

"You can't. Basically you go in a completely different direction," says Grand-Maître. "For me [beijing] was an extraordinary performance that will never be done again. They rehearsed I think for three years. Now if you ask a guy in Vancouver to rehearse for three years he's going to give you the middle finger and go play beach volleyball."

There are rumours: Céline Dion and Bryan Adams will perform; Sarah McLachlan won't (hard to believe); a huge pit is being dug underneath BC Place to accommodate the shows' technical requirements. None has been substantiated. And at every single rehearsal, the volunteers - and staff - are reminded of the strict confidentiality agreement they have signed.

It's not an easy thing to keep secrets in the age of camera phones and YouTube (cellphones are allowed into the rehearsal hall but have to be shut off), but Grand-Maître says it is important to keep the secret.

"The IOC's very, very adamant that this has to be a surprise to the world. And I understand that, because it should be unveiled like a Christmas gift."

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Hi, here is a view of the works (from May 2009....)

19a19589b27f73b56542188f967374f4.JPG

18a4bd22804bf130cd07ccfc014fb397.JPG

Entire articles there :

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/News/local/2010/...3/12335006.html (January 2010)

http://blog.canoe.ca/van2010/2009/05/15/be...ium_olympic_cau (May 2009)

Edited by memorabilia
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Oh so that's going to be the lackluster cauldron lighting? A small cauldron revealed from beneath the stadium during the closing moments of the Opening Ceremony, much like the cauldrons seen during the relay run, perhaps in a different design. Lit by some Canadian Winter Athlete, then a mass light and laser show inside the stadium blinding the spectators, with fireworks outside that no one inside can see.

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I'm more excited about the Vancouver ceremonies than I was about Beijing. In 2008 we had an idea of what to expect. Vancouver will be a surprise. Although cauldron and fireworks won't be the best ever, the indoor setting has it's advantages when it comes to lighting and sceneries and VANOC should put a heavy focus on that. Oh and projections too!

And is it just me or these are the most secret ceremonies ever? A month away and we still know nothing...

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And is it just me or these are the most secret ceremonies ever? A month away and we still know nothing...

Probably. I remember the guys behind Torino 2006 ceremonies unveiled a lot of details like three months before the actual ceremony (like a render of the scenario) and stuff about the sparks of passion (maybe spoling too much details was something which contributed to my actual dissapointment at those ceremonies in 2006). David Atkins didnt revealed much details before the Doha 2006 ceremonies, only like two pics of the dress rehearsals and that Jose Carreras would perform. Nothing more.

I kinda prefer more secrecy about the ceremonies, since it helps to contribute to the surprise factor. I'm sure Vancouver 2010 ceremonies would be far better than Torino 2006 (altough i dont think they will surpass the spectacle two years ago in Beijing :P )

For the details we have heard, i can tell the cauldron wont be too big. The lightning of the cauldron, in other way, could be spectacular. I wonder if they will make an scenario on the north tribune of the BC Place (like David Atkins did on Doha 2006 and Sydney 2000, altough the last one was on the west side of the Telstra stadium)

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I think the answer to that will be....YES!

They'll want an outdoor flame for people to snap pics of, for the broadcasters to use in panorama shots, and to just illuminate the area with that Olympic light. Otherwise, it is a missed opportunity and a mistake. Why don't we know any more? For the reason we didn't know much about anything. VANOC has been one of the best OCOGs I've ever seen at keeping their secrets secret.

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If they put the second cauldron outside BC place how are they going to protect it from the rain and wind?

I would think they would do it the same way every host in the past has done it, just turn up the gas, and if it should go out, relight it before anybody notices.

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If they put the second cauldron outside BC place how are they going to protect it from the rain and wind?

Sorry to say -- but this is a very strange question which gives me the impression that you haven't witnessed any Olympic Games (either personally or via TV) so far.

Otherwise you would know that every edition of the Olympic Games (summer and winter) had outdoor cauldrons which only very rarely (I only know of two cases, Montreal 1976 and Athens 2004) go out due to bad weather conditions or technical difficulties.

And despite they are having the more difficult weather conditions with snow and icy wind, I know of no edition of the Winter Games at which the cauldron went out.

So there are really tons of expertise out there how to build a functioning outdoor cauldron which doesn't go out in rain, snow and wind. So there's no reason to worry.

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I've seen many Olympic games on T.V. I ask this question because the weather in Vancouver can be extreme harsh. Last November it rain the entire month. We also have windstorms which uprooted several trees a few year ago. Plus we have the anti-Olympic protestors who will do anything to distrupt the game. Also if they put the gas up during harsh weather Vanoc will be critize for not keeping their promise to reduce carbon footprint.

Sorry to say -- but this is a very strange question which gives me the impression that you haven't witnessed any Olympic Games (either personally or via TV) so far.

Otherwise you would know that every edition of the Olympic Games (summer and winter) had outdoor cauldrons which only very rarely (I only know of two cases, Montreal 1976 and Athens 2004) go out due to bad weather conditions or technical difficulties.

And despite they are having the more difficult weather conditions with snow and icy wind, I know of no edition of the Winter Games at which the cauldron went out.

So there are really tons of expertise out there how to build a functioning outdoor cauldron which doesn't go out in rain, snow and wind. So there's no reason to worry.

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