By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Today is the last day to audition to be part of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing ceremonies, after a special extension was added to the schedule. The original deadline for auditions was April 31st, but on request the team at Cerimônias Cariocas decided to provide one more chance for candidates to join the cast of the Games, taking place on Friday and Saturday (May 6th and 7th) at the Maracanã Stadium.
Over seven months, the auditions to cast the ceremonies passed through different regions of Rio de Janeiro, in the neighborhoods of Laranjeiras, Madureira, Mangueira, São Cristóvão, Jacarepaguá and Tijuca.
Overseen by directors Bryn Waters and Steven Boyd, the team promoted auditions for amateur and professional dancers, people with disabilities, as well as specific groups to recruit experts in hip hop, samba and forró, among others.
Yet for the majority of casting no professional experience was required. “You do not need any special skills, just have animation, collective spirit and availability of time,” explained the director of ceremonies, Leonardo Caetano in a report by the Rio 2016 organization.
In all, 250 hours of dance marked the 120 auditions already held, involving fifty volunteers in support of ten engineers and eight choreographers. The result was a total of 14,000 selected, which will be divided between the four ceremonies: two opening and two closing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“The final feeling is gratitude for the thousands of people of all social groups, colors, creeds and ages who decided to donate their time so that we can make the biggest party in the world. The excitement of the volunteers is contagious and we are all very anxious the next steps,” said Diana Rose, casting coordinator.
David Drummond, a Canadian expatriate that has been living in Rio for years had successfully auditioned and is looking forward to being part of the performance. “I auditioned in early March at a facility in Laranjeiras. The whole affair was remarkably well organized by a combination of enthusiastic locals and a few foreigners who had clearly been involved in previous games.”
In terms of his motivation, he explains, “I auditioned simply because the chance to participate in an Olympic games doesn’t come up very often and I assumed my chances of success would be pretty good given Brazilian culture doesn’t seem to embrace volunteerism quite like the developed world.”
Drummond’s impression of the last round of auditions is “The organizers have recently added more auditions as I would imagine they either don’t have enough volunteers or they are worried about the commitment levels of the existing volunteer force.” Adding, “There are about twenty rehearsals for the opening ceremonies, so it is no small time commitment.”