Confessions Of A Paralympic Opening Ceremony Dancer: Showtime
On Sunday, for the first time in my life, I wore makeup.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against men wearing makeup, but I’m a steak and chips sort of chap at heart. I drink pints. Prior to auditioning to become a Paralympic Opening Ceremony dancer, the opportunity to wear makeup had never arisen.
We are at zero hour. There is no more time left to practise. Sunday’s makeup was in fact due to our very first and last Paralympic Opening Ceremony dress rehearsal. The show is tonight.
It’s taken a total 68 hours and 30 minutes of my free time so far to be part of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony – excluding time taken getting to and from rehearsals. There are things I won’t miss, like that god awful granulated coffee served in the refreshments area. Also, having to rise at 6am on a Sunday morning to get to the next session wasn’t particularly appreciated.
The extreme weather has been the most unexpected challenge. Before any of this, the most hazardous dancing environment I’d ever experienced was a nightclub smelling of urine. In last week’s rehearsals the sunshine was brutal. This week we were rehearsing outdoors in the Olympic Stadium whilst bullet sized rain drops fell overhead.
Still, I am glad that when a fellow dancer spectacularly falls over having slipped on a rain soaked stadium floor, we’ve all learned to laugh about it. Confidence is high. There is a sense of camaraderie amongst the group that I imagine is not totally dissimilar to that which keeps people in extreme survival situations from going mad. We’ve even got our own Facebook group.
From 5pm this evening we will be sitting in our holding cell underneath the Olympic Stadium. I call it a holding cell, it’s more of a dressing room. We have no way of knowing what’s happening in the outside world, apart from text messages from family and friends. Perhaps the biggest downside of being a Paralympic Opening Ceremony star is that you don’t actually get to see any of it.
Yesterday, I had a chance to take a sneaky peak at some of the footage from Channel 4’s test filming of the Ceremony dress rehearsal. From what I could tell, in the bottom right hand side of your TV screen, you will be able to see me busting moves like my life depends on it in the wide panning shots. There are several hundred others dancers all on stage at the same time in the section of the ceremony in which I appear – but you can narrow it down insofar as I’m one of the dancers with wheelchairs.
Our group has been instructed to start lining up in the tunnels underneath the Olympic Stadium at 10.11pm. We are due to be on your TV screens by 10.35pm. Tweet at me at @C4JamesB to tell us what you think of the show!
And finally, I have a very special surprise which will hit the web about an hour after the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony has concluded. This Channel 4 Paralympics exclusive is a worth staying up late for – the C4Paralympics Facebook group and Twitter feed are the first places you’ll find it posted.
Since I began blogging about the Opening Ceremony rehearsals I’ve been flooded with supportive Tweets and comments about the blood, sweat and tears we’ve shed to get it right. It’s pretty heartening stuff. Now we are standing (or in my case sitting) on the precipice. It’s not every day that you get to be the opening act for the world’s second largest multi-sport event, after all.
Wish us luck. We are forecast rain again. I hope my mascara doesn’t run.
Got a good luck message for the cast of the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony? Post it here by leaving a comment!