Week 23 (22 - 28 February 2014)
Those in the business say that an Opening Ceremony gives the host country a chance to write the first headline. For the sensational Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games that meant initial headlines were dictated by a snowflake which refused to grow into an Olympic ring.
Yet at the Closing Ceremony two weeks later, it was that same image (pictured, which most of the media presumed Russia would want to bury and forget about) that organisers revisited. This time the rings were being shaped by hundreds of dancers. When it came to the group of dancers responsible for forming the fifth ring, there was a substantial and comic pause as the dancers held firm in a snowflake pattern, before expanding into the ring they were supposed to be.
It was a charming moment in another stunning ceremony and epitomised how well the Games had gone in the host nation’s eyes. London 2012’s ceremonies were praised for the organisers’ appropriate use of humour but Russia poking fun at itself has gone down even better in the media. It was expected of the British; until now, it probably wasn’t of Russia.
What was never in doubt however was how impressive the ceremonies at Sochi 2014 would be. Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were light spectacular displays with mood-altering colours, enchanting music and vignettes from history - all tied together through an operatic fairytale. Using an entire stadium as a stage offers up unique opportunities to choreographers, and the director of the Sochi 2014 ceremonies, Konstantin Ernst, allowed his imagination to fill all corners of the 40,000-capacity Fisht Olympic Stadium.
He and his staff, including live event production agency, Five Currents, produced a fantastic start and end to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, sending the message out that Russia is full to bursting point with culture, and blessed with a proud and welcoming people. The sport was as unpredictable as ever in Sochi but the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were incredibly detailed productions, prepared and performed to the highest degree by all involved.