Get your pop­corn ready – it’s party time in Rio

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

SU­PER­MODEL Gisele Bund­chen, trail­blaz­ing trans­gen­der beauty Lea T and car­ni­val dancers will show off Brazil in its mul­ti­colour glory at the Olympic open­ing cer­e­mony to­mor­row.

Rio has a hard act to fol­low af­ter Lon­don 2012’s al­ter­nately hu­mor­ous and jaw-drop­pingly so­phis­ti­cated ver­sion.

This open­ing cer­e­mony, held in a coun­try suf­fer­ing its deep­est re­ces­sion in al­most a cen­tury, will be more mod­est.

Co-artis­tic chief Fer­nando Meirelles, who di­rected the hit movies City of God and The Con­stant Gardener, has said his bud­get is a frac­tion of the Lon­don splurge.

But or­gan­is­ers prom­ise to keep the more than 70,000-strong crowd in Rio’s legendary Mara­cana Sta­dium and the es­ti­mated 3 bil­lion peo­ple watch­ing it on tele­vi­sion at the edge of their seats.

If Bei­jing 2008 was os­ten­ta­tiously lav­ish and Lon­don quirky, Rio will try to cap­ture Brazil’s amaz­ing di­ver­sity, love of mu­sic – and tal­ent for fun.

“We want to have the biggest party there has ever been in this coun­try,” co-artis­tic di­rec­tor Daniela Thomas says. No one does big out­door par­ties bet­ter than Rio – think the an­nual car­ni­val – and mu­sic is at the heart of that.

Along with thousands of ath­letes parad­ing be­hind their na­tional flags, as well as a con­tin­gent of refugees, there’ll be hun­dreds of per­form­ers from a dozen lo­cal samba schools singing and danc­ing in wild cos­tumes.

Two icons of Brazil­ian pop­u­lar mu­sic, Cae­tano Veloso and Gil­berto Gil, will fea­ture. On the more con­tem­po­rary side, there’ll be rap­pers and baile funk star Anitta.

Leaks from a closed-doors dress re­hearsal on July 31 prom­ise a run through the trans­for­ma­tion of Brazil, in­clud­ing a light show to recre­ate the At­lantic Ocean crossed by Por­tuguese colonis­ers, de­pic­tions of slav­ery, a recre­ation of avi­a­tor San­tos Du­mont’s flight in the plane 14 Bis, and the found­ing of cities.

Another heavy­weight theme in the show, which starts at 8pm lo­cal time (4:30am in Myan­mar) and lasts roughly four hours, will be global warm­ing and Brazil’s cru­cial role as home to the Ama­zon rain­for­est, re­ports say.

One of the most fa­mous Brazil­ians alive – Bund­chen, who re­tired from the cat­walk in 2015 – and pi­o­neer­ing trans­gen­der model Lea T will pro­vide the glam­our.

Bund­chen’s role was mired in con­tro­versy this week when her scene in the dress re­hearsal ap­peared to show an at­tempted mug­ging be­fore po­lice ar­rive and she for­gives the as­sailant.

Re­spond­ing to a wave of protest, or­gan­is­ers an­grily de­nied ever hav­ing de­picted an as­sault.

A well-con­nected colum­nist in Globo news­pa­per said the crowd mis­in­ter­preted what was meant to be a skit about a street ven­dor, not a mug­ger.

In any case, Bund­chen, who struts out to the clas­sic Brazil­ian hit “Girl from Ipanema”, will be safe to­mor­row. “There will be no rob­bery,” a spokesper­son for or­gan­is­ers told AFP.

Lea T, a trans­gen­der woman who has bro­ken into the main­stream fashion in­dus­try, is billed as be­ing the first trans per­son to have a ma­jor role in an Olympic open­ing cer­e­mony.

Born to Brazil­ian soc­cer player Ton­inho Cerezo, who was part of the na­tional team be­tween 1977 and 1985, Lea T told the BBC that she wants to em­body Brazil’s di­ver­sity.

“Brazil is vast and all this di­ver­sity, in one way or another, needs to be rep­re­sented in an event like this,” she said.

It won’t be all smiles and samba. Brazil is go­ing through a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

The elected pres­i­dent, Dilma Rouss­eff, is sus­pended and likely to be ejected from of­fice in an im­peach­ment vote af­ter the Games end.

She has re­fused to at­tend the cer­e­mony, say­ing she will not ac­cept “a sec­ondary role” while her for­mer vice pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer, now act­ing pres­i­dent, pre­sides.

Te­mer is ex­pected to say no more than one line or so declar­ing the Games open, but even that risks boo­ing from op­po­nents in the crowd.

“I am to­tally ready” for heck­ling, he said. Out­side the sta­dium, se­cu­rity will be heavy in case of demon­stra­tions by groups sup­port­ing Rouss­eff.

As for the A-level at­ten­dance, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will be among the many heads of state keep­ing away. Ac­cord­ing to O Es­tado de Sao Paulo daily, the to­tal of world lead­ers will be the low­est in 16 years.

One thing the re­hearsal did not show is the light­ing of the Olympic caul­dron.

The iden­tity of the lucky per­son car­ry­ing the Olympic torch – which has com­pleted a 300-city re­lay – to ig­nite the caul­dron is also a mys­tery.

The big fa­vorite is foot­ball leg­end Pele, prob­a­bly the most fa­mous Brazil­ian of all.

How­ever he never played in the Olympics and NBC, the US net­work with ex­clu­sive broad­cast­ing rights for the United States, sug­gests that or­gan­is­ers should look at Brazil­ian marathon run­ner Van­der­lei de Lima.

De Lima was lead­ing in the 2004 Athens Olympics when a spec­ta­tor ran out and grabbed him. He ended up win­ning bronze and for­gave his at­tacker, earn­ing plau­dits for his hu­mil­ity.

Olympic or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee spokesper­son Mario An­drada says there’ll be plenty of sur­prises to­mor­row.

“We didn’t show even 20 per­cent,” he said.

Photo: AFP

Mem­bers of the Samba Mangueira school per­form dur­ing the Spe­cial Group Samba Schools Pa­rade of the Car­ni­val of Rio de Janeiro at the Sam­badrome, in Rio de Janeiro. If Car­ni­val is any in­di­ca­tion, to­mor­row’s Olympic Games open­ing cer­e­mony should be a spec­ta­cle.

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