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Emotion, not grandeur, will fuel Rio ceremony

Don't expect the opening ceremony at the Rio Olympics to match the grandeur of some in the past.

But do look for plenty of smiles, scenic depictions of the rainforest and a celebration of the country's diversity.

Marco Balich, the Italian executive producer, would not disclose finer details ahead of Friday's opener but offered broad strokes on how the host country's heritage will be honored.

"This is not the most grand show," he said Monday. "This is not an opulent show compared to London or compared to Beijing, but it will be a very emotional ceremony, full of heart and very graceful."

Balich is an experienced Olympic hand. He created, directed and produced the opening for the 2006 Torino Winter Games and served as executive producer of the closing ceremony in Sochi and the Paralympics in 2014.

In all, 4,800 performers and volunteers will be involved in the show built on three basic "pillars" touching on sustainability, particularly re-forestation, "smile" and the idea of gambiarra, the quirky Brazilian art of improvising repairs using whatever parts are available.

"Smile is the approach the Brazilians have toward life," Balich said. "Brazil is not a grand nation. They're saying in this ceremony, we are who we are, with a lot of social problems, a lot of crises in the political system etcetera."

He promises a "contemporary and cool" approach, one especially inspired by native son and renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado and his work with his Instituto Terra on property once owned by his family. Today, the land is a nature preserve, and the nonprofit raises millions of seedlings and trains ecologists.

"The message is Brazil has the last garden in the world, which is the Amazon, and we need to protect that garden," Balich said. "This is a message of hope for the future."

Another strong element will include a celebration of Brazil's rich music, Balich said. And, of course, there will be a touch of Carnival.

The idea of the opening is to showcase the host's culture. As Balich notes, "We are going back to humanity."

Emotion, not grandeur, will fuel Rio ceremony 08/04/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2016 3:25pm]
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