Paris gets into rhythm for a historic Olympic opening ceremony

SAINT-DENIS.- The Olympic Games of Paris are getting into rhythm for the historic opening ceremony on the Seine River.

The group of dancers who will participate in the gala on July 26, under the artistic direction of acclaimed theater director Thomas Jolly, are putting the final details of an energetic presentation that will combine urban, contemporary, classical and breakdancing, as well as stomping, screams and cartwheels.

The Associated Press had behind-the-scenes access to one of their rehearsals for a ceremony that has been shrouded in secrecy.

Dance director Maud Le Pladec instructed 50 dancers in their moves in a warehouse in Saint-Denis, a suburb north of Paris. She expressed pride in the group’s cultural mix: “she represents the element of France that I love.”

“We are in France, but we speak to everyone,” he said. “That means we have different identities, physiques, ages.”

The grandiose outdoor ceremony, which will take place at sunset and take almost four hours, will transform the heart of Paris and its iconic monuments into a monumental stage for Jolly’s artistic talent. But he also needs a huge security device.

“The opening ceremony has never been outside a stadium. There is no model, it is all a creation,” Jolly said in an interview published on Tuesday by the newspaper Le Parisien.

Effort to carry it out:

For security forces, the decision to stage the parade of thousands of Olympic athletes in boats along a 6 kilometer (3.7 mile) stretch along the Seine, between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont d ‘Iéna, in front of 320,000 spectators, is an enormous challenge. Approximately 45,000 security elements will be mobilized. Airspace and airports within a 150-kilometer (90-mile) radius will be closed during the extravaganza.

The organizers hope that the gala will leave an indelible mark on a massive global audience and thus demonstrate that France knows how to deliver on what it promises by showcasing its legacy, history and creativity.

A total of 3,000 dancers will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies of the competitions from July 26 to August 11, and the subsequent Paralympics between August 28 and September 8.

Sharlyne Say, a 22-year-old dancer, called the idea of ​​performing in front of the entire planet “a dream come true.”

“It will be crazy, because I’m not used to dancing outside,” she added.