Phew…sitting at my computer drawing a house trying to process away the residual adrenalin from Sunday’s event in the amazingly well functioning Olympic Stadium and work out how dancing in the Closing Ceremony fits into my existence as an architect.
I answered the call to be a volunteer Olympic dancer back in April, passed the auditions and proceeded to learn the “ropes” down at 3 Mills. Gridlines on the floor, setting out marks, this was pretty familiar, but moving between them at high speed in a co-ordinated fashion in time to music not so much so. Physical contact with strangers, someone talking in your ears, Lycra pants, all a bit weird.
We were led into our “section” number by number and into the idea behind our piece slowly and gradually as elements and parts were added in, props, furniture, cues, character, expression, costumes, colour coding, the children, dancers, the vehicles, the mechanical props — and the pro-cast (the good dancers).
We shifted to the old Ford factory in Dagenham where the “field of play” could be rehearsed and was a suitably post-industrial East End waste ground. There were some interesting bits of car factory junk around the perimeter to arrange in the slack moments when we weren’t cowering in the tent in the frequent tropical downpours that the choreographers seemed to cue up for every other run-through just in case of rain on the day.
The choreographers were the guardians of the ceremony’s secret meanings and an amazing bunch. I don’t think I have ever met three people as good at their jobs as director Kim Gavin, and his lieutenants Gareth and Nathan, who moulded, shaped and integrated us with a myriad of technical factors into the exploding “reveal” of the opening rush hour, street party scene.
Olympic pageant over, revels ended, everyone back to work. But hang on, perhaps normal life is fun and a bit of a dream anyway: bang those bin lids, share out the cup cakes and get down to the river at sunset.
Perhaps work IS fun. Now, there is a strange idea — let’s see how much theatre this house can handle.
Dylan Haughton is principal of Dylan Haughton Architects