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Ceremony for Games will reflect gallus city attitude

THE Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games will celebrate Glasgow's "gallus" personality in a spectacular performance by 2,000 local volunteers for an audience of 40,000 spectators and an estimated one billion television viewers across the globe.

STAGE IS SET: The opening ceremony cast will perform on a specially created stage.
STAGE IS SET: The opening ceremony cast will perform on a specially created stage.

High-security rehearsals at various locations in Glasgow have been under way for the past few weeks and last Sunday morning 500 cast members from all walks of life practised their segment of the ceremony in the warm July sunshine.

When they perform for real at Celtic Park at 9pm on July 23 - on a specially created stage floor covering the entire pitch - the cast will have had 16 rehearsals for the show, which promises to surprise, delight and be uniquely Glaswegian and Scottish.

Specialist mass movement choreographer Rocky Smith ­plotted the routines on her computer's specially adapted Adobe Illustrator programme. The innovative method means numbers on performers' rehearsal vests are represented by dots on the computer screen; the steps are indicated on ­laminated cards issued to cast members to guide them.

"Working this way helps move people very quickly and ­efficiently," said Smith, who has mass-choreographed 45 other sporting ceremonies. "As they are all ­volunteers, we need to use their time well."

In Glasgow she is working with Steve Boyd, the live events specialist with whom she ­collaborated at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The Glasgow 2014 opening and closing ­ceremonies are being created and produced by Jack Morton Worldwide to a budget of £21 million.

More than 6,000 people ­auditioned for a chance to ­participate. Though details are being kept secret, Smith said: "We marked everyone according to how best we could make them shine. We wanted to find a place for everybody.

"We were looking to see what makes Glasgow shine and ­Scotland so great, and found that people radiated that either through dancing skills or through a cracking personality."

Hopefuls were asked to mimic a statue from George Square. Some did Robert Burns, others Queen Victoria on her horse.

"Then we asked some of them to be the Krankies," she said. "The responses were really funny and everyone was laughing. Through that we discovered the Glasgow gallusness. Gallusness is the word of the ceremony. We'd never heard it before and we love it."

She added: "Glasgow cast members have given us what we wanted so quickly and so well that we've had to prepare more moves. We've been impressed by Glasgow's can-do attitude. They are giving it to us."

David Zolkwer, head of ­ceremonies and artistic director, said: "Our goal has always been to have the people take centre-stage; for them to speak (and sing and dance) for themselves. So, on the night our audience will witness thousands of real people doing extraordinary things - and in the process they will do themselves, the city and Scotland proud."

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