Sunday, July 29, 2012

NBC Cut Moving Dance Piece From Olympic Opening Night Ceremony

I love the Brits, but I was not impressed with the Olympic Games opening night ceremony. It had its moments, but factor in some shoddy camera work by NBC and I have to admit that I snoozed through a bit of it. Noise and all. But I had no idea that NBC didn't air all of it.

According to Bangladeshi/Brit choreographer and dancer Akram Khan, he was shocked to find out that his segment never aired in the U.S. Apparently, it was preempted by a Ryan Seacrest interview with two-time multiple Olympic medal winner for swimming Michael Phelps.

Naturally, Khan was “...disheartened and disappointed,” asking “Is it not accessible enough? Is it not commercial enough?” Probably not, considering the penchant of American audiences for works without substance, but who knows what the reason was, and NBC hasn't responded.

Khan had been commissioned to create a piece dealing with the theme of "mortality."

The section featured 50 specially selected professional dancers, a 9-year-old boy and Khan himself. Set to the voice of Emeli Sandé singing Abide With Me, the piece was a moment of reflection and contemplation following the vibrant and astonishing, high tempo proceedings.

Khan’s work brought an infectious stillness to the Ceremony, a reminder of our own mortality and the transfer of possibilities and hopes between generations. Danny Boyle invited Khan to choreograph the section after watching a performance of his piece Vertical Road – which explores similar themes.

His dance piece took place right before the athletes made their grand entrance.  For some reason, the bulk of worldwide media reported that the dance was a tribute to the 2005 7/7 London bus and train terrorist bombings, but not so, at least according to this article.

The media, though, had already begun reporting about the "7/7 tribute" that was cut by NBC, with one glaring error: Khan made no mention during the 90 minute discussion about the terror attack on London on July 7, 2005 that claimed 52 lives. It didn't come up once. There is also no mention of it being a tribute in the official media guide of the opening ceremony.

The confusion seems to lie within a video tribute that showed pictures of victims and asked the crowd to pause for a moment of silence for "friends and family who could not be here tonight." Khan's performance began right after that, confusing viewers and reporters as to whether it was part of the tribute.

However, Khan's failure to mention the dance being any kind of dedication would suggest that it was not part of the tribute.

However, there were 50 dancers plus Khan and a 10 year-old boy, which makes 52 dancers total, the same number of victims killed during the suicide bombing attacks. And the BBC coverage implied it was a tribute to. Who knows if it was or wasn't, what we do know is that NBC erred in cutting the piece.

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