The Beijing Olympics was quite a journey. The Olympic committee contacted me through the number 2 guy at Cirque du Soleil. Thanks Jacque. We started the design and idea phase in November of ’07 and took a 10-day trip to Beijing. Or what we thought would be Beijing. Because of the secrecy of the event, we were not allowed to meet or talk to other choreographers for the ceremonies. We were in a rural area of China, farmland, about 60 miles from Beijing. This is a place where everything is fair game to be burned. Smoke is everywhere. The ride from the hotel to the mock up stadium was interesting to say the least. Evidently the lines on the road don’t mean anything there. I think maybe they’re more of a suggestion. When we arrived, 450 athletes of various ages and abilities greeted us. After the introduction through my interpreter, we began to break down what we wanted to do. They asked for a demonstration and even though the jet lag was still upon us, we obliged with a flurry of flipping and acrobatic moves that looked like something from an old Shoalin movie. The people were great, the food was strange. I don’t think anybody in China has ever been to Panda Express-cause the food ain’t even close. After 8 days we finally arrived in Beijing and we immediately gravitated to the Western style franchised foods. We settled for Pizza Hut and 78 Chinese dollars later the pizza arrived. I don’t honestly remember eating the first piece of pizza, but the rest was enjoyed like spiritual carbohydrate infested sacrifice.
All that being said, it was a privilege to be involved. To see the history of China first hand was incredible to say the least. The timeless Forbidden City and Great Wall are tributes to the culture.