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Special Olympics opening ceremony performance

Children and young people from Leicester and Leicestershire are working with arts professionals to create a performance for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony.

25th July 2009

Leicester City Council Arts and Museums Service, working with young people from Riverside School, have commissioned Mahogany Carnival, a group of artists who design and create large scale carnival costumes, to deliver a 20-30 minute artistic spectacle (street arts or performance) for the 2009 Leicester Special Olympics opening ceremony.

Preparing an artisitic spectacleThe spectacular will be produced by children and young people from Leicester and Leicestershire.

Find your Talent has funded two projects for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony, these are:

  • Carnival celebration ‘spectacular’ by Mahogany Carnival
  • Special Olympics fanfare by the Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Leicester City Council, working with two pupils from Riverside College Leicester (who have experience of interviewing from their Creative Consultant role with Creative Partnerships), interviewed and appointed Mahogany Carnival to deliver the ‘spectacular’ for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony. Mahogany Carnival were chosen because of the inspiring ideas they put across in the interviews and the enthusiastic response by young people to their presentation. 

    Mahogany Carnival have divided the production and commissioning of the Carnival Celebration into four discrete areas:

    Storyline and costume making

    Mahogany Carnival have worked with small groups of young people from schools in Leicester including Rushymead School and City of Leicester College. The groups designed costumes inspired by examples provided from the Notting Hill Carnival from Mahogany - designs included dragons, Aztec art, fantastical birds and Bob Marley - and then chose a theme for the storyline of the performance. They decided to base the performance on the fantastical concepts of Alice in Wonderland and the idea of One-derland was born, and a storyboard was created. The young people have also commissioned adults from the Leicester Caribbean Carnival and other young people from other schools to help make the 200 or so costumes for the final performance.

    Audience participation

    Audience participation at the Opening Ceremony is a vital part of making sure everyone has a good time. Bamboozal Theatre Company, which specialises in working with disabled children with complex needs, has created 'ribbons of fire' for the audience to wave during the performance, working with five special educational needs schools from Leicester and Leicestershire.

    Music making

    Young people from the Drake Music Group, based at the Richard Attenborough Centre in Leicester, worked with composer Geraldine Conner. Using the theme and storyboard of One-derland, the young people who are all disabled musicians, wrote melodies and created rhythms for each section of the performance. These individual tunes were collated by Geraldine into the final musical score which has been met by great appreciation by the musicians.  

    Dance choreography and performance

    Mahogany Carnival has recruited a mixture of professional dancers, amateur dancers and some with no dance experience to participate in the performance at the Opening Ceremony. The children and young people who commissioned the project advised that the dance should reflect the diversity of Leicester, and include adults as well. Therefore eight groups, including adults and children with learning disabilities have been working with three choreographers, Louise Katarega, Donald Edwards and David Hamilton, to create the dance. Participants include the Belgrave Carers Group, Addict Dance, Steps (disabled teenagers dance group) and Oakland Primary School.

  • The Philharmonia Orchestra, one of the world's greatest orchestras and proud to be resident at De Montfort Hall, is working with composer and project leader Tim Steiner to create a special fanfare for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony. 

    The fanfare will be performed by members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, members of Youth Brass 2000 & Enderby Youth Brass Bands and students from Ashfield, Netherhall, Dorothy Goodman, Westgate and Ellesmere Schools (all special educational needs schools), who have also participated in a series of workshops to assist Tim in the writing of the piece.