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End of the Party :: My part in the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony

End of the Party :: My part in the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony
london 2012 olympic flame
More than seven years of planning for sixteen days of events and so far, it’s taken me at least six days to recover. It’s been one heck of a party indeed. I feel like I’m in Olympic withdrawal, hyperaware of everything real life that got moved to the side during the games, yet a bit listless that there’s not a crowd in front of a giant screen across the street, that the buses are back to their normal schedule, that there are far fewer security passes hanging on lanyards around necks. So many other volunteers I know say they are feeling exactly the same. I’ve even seen Gamesmakers spot each other on the train by way of still wearing the shoes Adidas sponsored for their uniform, and suddenly exchange their best stories from the experience.

backstage at the london 2012 closing ceremony
My biggest story is certainly that of the closing ceremony and the long journey that led me there. At so many steps along that path, I thought it wasn’t meant to be for me. Anyone could sign up on the London 2012 website to volunteer for the opening and closing ceremonies, but I only discovered that about two days after the closing deadline and thought surely that was the end. A few days later a recruiter with a clipboard stopped me after dance class and explained they were still looking for people, and asked if I would come give it a shot. From that recruiter, I went on to a first audition in early November, and it was definitely the most unique audition I’ve ever attended. The staff at these auditions were looking for performers from all walks of life to take part in all four ceremonies: open and closing, Olympic and Paralympic. I auditioned during the day, and in my group I met a university professor who travelled hours to London, a teenage student who had bunked off school for the day and was a bundle of nerves because he had never skipped so much as a single class before but really wanted to get a part, members of a deaf music group and their signing interpreters, and a gentleman who remembered the 1948 London Olympics in his youth. That was all just waiting around for everyone to arrive and sign in and we still had no idea what we would be asked to do for the next few hours.

Once on our feet, we went through a variety of exercises to see if we could take direction, if we were afraid of the camera, if we could keep a beat. We learned to navigate a large space by grid of coordinates and how to start in a big crowd of people and move out to form the Olympic rings. We marched around the room following a zig-zagged line on the floor whilst jamming along to a variety of tunes. We did a little improved dancing here and there with a partner, and I was partnered with a man called Geoffrey, who is largely paralysed and gets around with an amazing motorised wheelchair and communicates with some fancy gadgetry. Even with all that I could tell he was so excited and I so hope Geoffrey got a part in one of the ceremonies. He was great fun as a dance partner! As a big group, we mimed a morning routine with an attempt at coordinated yawning that caused a most hilarious run of actual yawns to pass through the room. Then to finish, we quickly tried a bit of a dance routine while cameras rolled and people compared notes behind clipboards. Danny Boyle came in to watch for a while. And right before we ran that simple little dance for the last time, we were told to ‘spice it up’ with whatever special flair we could, and suddenly each of us would catch a little improved spin or jump or clap out of the corner of our eye as everyone in the room tried to think on their feet. We were told to check our email closely for the next forty-eight hours.

Then it was done. Back on the 108 bus home. Crazily checking my email and seeing nothing. Searching Twitter to find people saying they received an email just a few hours after their audition. Feeling like it had to be over when I didn’t hear back in the forty-eighth hour, and being sad but okay with that.

Then getting an email the next evening, at more like the eightieth hour and finding out I needed to come back to a dance-specific audition ten days later. Somehow the fun and the ease of that first audition gave me some sort of false impression that the call-back would be easy as well. While we were queueing to go in, a discussion came up about what sorts of things people did for a living. The person behind me was a dance teacher. The person in front of me was in the cast of Chicago. THE CAST OF CHICAGO, PEOPLE. Every single person who joined in the discussion had dance as some sort of professional element in their life, and then there was me, ten years older than everyone else and someone who treated dance as a hobby or a bit of fun. Again I was thinking there was no way I could be successful in this audition, dancing next to people of that standard. It only got worse when I saw the routine, and we were told that first move should be ‘probably three pirouettes – four if you can, just two if that’s all you can do clean’. My ‘clean’ runs out at about one and a half. Then a sudden yet controlled fall to the floor. My version of ‘controlled’ meant getting to the floor without breaking any bones, and it didn’t look anything like the gravity-defying coordination of the lady from Chicago. We had to pick up an entire sequence in just a few minutes (it was about double the length of what I would normally learn in an hour-long class) and a huge part of me sighed in relief when the steps in the second half of the sequence came more naturally to me, but would anyone still be looking after I had struggled so much with the beginning? There wasn’t much time to think about it, as we were immediately broken into groups of four or five dancers in front of the judges (and hundreds of other dancers) in a giant room, and then it was all over. This time we were told we would hear in a few weeks. I only told my closest friends that I had auditioned at all, and with the caveat that I was sure I had blown the callback.

dancing on london tonight
Several weeks later a camera crew rolls into the class I go to every Friday lunchtime to take some footage for a news feature on London Tonight. It turned out that after all those auditions, they were still looking for more men, as the recruitment drives through dance schools and drama groups had turned up mostly women. They interviewed some guys from dance class about whether they had known about the auditions (they hadn’t) and then ran some text about how the public could get involved over shots of us running the routine. I still didn’t tell anyone in class I had auditioned, then that night my phone kept lighting up with people asking ‘is that you on the news? – something I scrapbooked here, which you might remember.

By the time that piece aired it was well past the ‘few weeks’ we were told so being part of that news piece was a bit bittersweet, as I was convinced I didn’t have a part. I later found out they had vastly underestimated the time it would take to cast everyone and contact them. That very weekend, I got an email saying I had been cast in the closing ceremony, in a part that required both ‘a character role and a spectacular dance sequence’. That was the point when I decided it was okay to tell people I had auditioned… but I was also sworn to secrecy and especially warned about saying anything on the internet, since the ceremonies would need to be kept secret from the press. But I shared the news with dance class friends and we compared notes as several others had auditioned by then. Some of us were in the closing and others in the opening. None of us were in the same groups, so our rehearsal schedules varied greatly. Some people had thirty rehearsals but they were all in the evenings for just a few hours. My group had far fewer rehearsals but they were almost all full days that left us quite drained. We all desperately wanted to talk about what we were doing but agreed we had to keep as much of the secret as possible.

backstage at the london 2012 closing ceremony
Rehearsals started in early spring, first indoors at Three Mills film studios, just a short distance from the Olympic park. Then we moved outdoors and further east, to a car park in Dagenham. Literally. There we had two spaces marked out at the same size and shape as the real stadium, but without the seating and such, of course. When we moved outdoors, we started rehearsing with a radio system, where we had headphones that would let us hear both the music and the directors speaking to us. In the event that one’s headphones fell off in the middle of a run, there was strange moment of realising you were at the world’s largest silent disco, while hundreds of people danced in time without a single sound to be heard aloud.

rehearsing in wellies for the london 2012 closing ceremony
Our group had a special talent in making it rain whenever we had rehearsal. Admittedly, it just rained a lot throughout most of this year in England! But we could have five days off and they would all be sunny and dry and as soon as we arrived at rehearsal? It would start bucketing down. Every. Single. Time. After many of us ruining multiple pairs of shoes, we smartened up to the weather and started dancing in our wellies. It might be dry when we started the run, but give it twenty minutes and we’d be wondering if Michael Fish was currently broadcasting there will be no hurricane’ to the rest of the British public. We started the show underneath the ramps that held all the set, so sometimes we thought we could escape it there, but it often rained so hard that the water would start to deluge through the gaps in the ramps and we ended up worse off than if we just stood in the stuff. Plastic ponchos and a million layers of clothing became quite normal, and I will just tell you now that dancing in wellies is really not the best thing for your feet. You really don’t need to learn that for yourself.

building the set for the london 2012 closing ceremony
One big difference between the opening and the closing ceremony rehearsals is that the opening performers rehearsed in the actual stadium for several weeks. They were the only ones allowed in at that point while all the final preparations were being made to the park, and they had time to learn so many specifics about the place. My friends in the opening knew the seat numbers that would be the best place to see them and had all sorts of specific information about how the show would work in that space. Seeing how they completely changed the set in the first five minutes of the show going live, there is no way it could have worked without that! Watching their show was amazing. But by the time they were done and out of the stadium, it needed to be used for something else of course, and we were still working in a car park with no idea how things would come together.

The day of the closing ceremony was the first time we walked on that ground. We never did a dress rehearsal in that space. Being in the first half of the show, we had very little idea of what was in the second half of the show, because we were always dismissed when our section was completed. During the games, lots of people asked me if the closing was going to be as much of a production as the opening, and all I could think was that it would have to be so very different. I didn’t realise it would be as different as replacing a choreographed timeline of civilisation with a giant inflatable octopus. But really, who could?

backstage at the london 2012 closing ceremony
If you haven’t followed along on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see all the random little updates, I danced in a section called Rush Hour, at the start of the closing ceremonies, and was on stage for about half an hour. From all that, I was on television for roughly a second and a half. But that’s okay: it’s a second and a half more than plenty of other people in the show and there was a rather large live audience of course so we were definitely performing to real people. I started under the stage, with a giant newsprint overcoat concealing a five-and-a-half foot flag. Which is interesting, because I am five feet two. I was pretty much the last person to come up the stairs and onto the stage – something that was purely coincidental of where we needed to go in the given time, but there was something very calming about that. A frenetic energy under the stage when we were all cramped in there and just moments later there’s not a bit of newsprint left under there. Winston Churchill stops us in our tracks. We manage to unfurl all those hidden flags. We sing the national anthem. The newsprint is furled off pretty much everything to reveal so much colour – including all of my group in shades of turquoise. And then there is much, much dancing.

backstage at the London2012 Closing Ceremony
We danced with chairs. With wine glasses. With party hats, polka-dot plates and cucumber sandwiches. We’d never actually practised with real sandwiches before, and one of the dancers in our group gave this amazing commentary to us as he ate the sandwich then pronounced it completely revolting and we could barely hold it together for wanting to laugh. We sang along with Madness. We shimmied behind the Pet Shop Boys and their fancy hats. And yes, we did a great deal of na-na-na-ing with One Direction. Who I kept calling One Division by mistake. Let’s be honest: I am old enough to be their mother. But I clapped and sang and danced my heart out as if you walked up to sixth grade Shimelle and told her she could dance at a New Kids on the Block concert.

We cleaned up to a rhythm with Stomp. Stomp always reminds me of this conversation I had with a professor right before I turned in my dissertation. It had taken me a while to find my feet in that course when I first moved to England and then once I did, I had actually come up with a dissertation topic that several of my professors wanted me to extend into doctoral study, but there was no way I could afford to stay a student at that point, so I was explaining that my advising professor. Like many serious academics, she was ridiculously talented and inspiring in her field of expertise, but perhaps a little unaware of some other parts of society from time to time. She told me it was silly that I couldn’t afford it – she had some students who managed to fund their studies by ‘going down to the seafront and banging around on some rubbish bins’. Well yes… those were the students who founded Stomp, and I wasn’t convinced I could make enough to pay my tuition in the same way. And then all those years later, here we both are, right there in the same place, doing a bit of a show with the rubbish bins.

backstage at the London 2012 Closing Ceremony
Then Waterloo Sunset. At this point, we had no set choreography – just enjoy it and imagine it’s the last song of the most perfect festival weekend. Which seemed quite realistic since we were always in festival wellies for all those weeks! I love that song. I loved that we got those few minutes to sway back and forth with all the friends we had made over this entire process. I loved the craziness of the first time they brought the kids in to form the Thames in their sparkly suits – their cues were always given as the ‘river children’, making me imagine something from a children’s adventure film set in the rainforest. (There was a beautiful moment when one of the children got a little confused when their choreography had been transferred to the round set: ‘We learnt forward and backward, but now there is no front of the room!’) As soon as the song finished, we exited through the audience, who gave us the most fabulous high fives.

Now we’ve gone from seeing those same people nearly every day to a week of just chatting on Facebook while we get caught up on real life. This weekend, I have a Sunday that will not involve a single moment in a car park. During the weeks of rehearsals, I would bake cupcakes for the turquoise team and now I’m back to having no audience for baked goods. There were always a couple cakes left over at the end of the day and I would give them to other dancers on the bus home or strangers on the tube. I miss funny little things like that. I was so much older than many in our group that some of them were dance students at university and for me it felt a bit like coming out of retirement, since there was a time in my life when I did show after show (admittedly not with an audience that big!) but now it is a real rarity. We weren’t allowed cameras at rehearsals which broke my heart. Shattered it into pieces, really. I took the odd sneaky shot with my phone when I could, but most of it is stuff just in my mind, not in pictures. There are a few pictures of our group that have circulated through the press, but I don’t technically have the rights to blog them here, so I’ll have to link instead. This shot of us doing the Mobot probably got us the most attention at the time (we may have slightly broken the rules of the choreography at the last minute by deciding to strike some Olympic poses rather than the random cheesy options we had planned) but I am not convinced the Mobot is a good look for me, especially when looking down at the camera! This one I like far more – from the ‘You don’t know you’re beautiful’ chorus. For the record, I’ve been waking up every day this week with either that or Waterloo Sunset in my head, playing on repeat. Our moment with turquoise on telly came when the Pet Shop Boys cruised by, and that moment has also turned up in plenty of pictures, including this in the special souvenir edition of OK! magazine. The back of me is in OK! magazine. For real. (And there are butterflies, because of COURSE there should be.) I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than my hair appearing in the newspaper.) I’m quite fond of the sheer joy from everyone in this shot. If you’re interested in how such a big production comes together creatively, check out the Closing Ceremony Tumblr, which brings together all the notes for what they wanted to include with random facts, rehearsal photos and costume sketches.

So it’s been quite a party, and it’s not truly over yet, with the Paralympics on their way very soon, but my biggest project is done. Which leaves me one big question: just how can I scrapbook all this? (Don’t worry: I really, really have an idea.)

backstage at the London 2012 closing ceremony
Thanks so much for indulging me during all this Olympicness! It’s been fantastic and I’ll find a way to get myself back to normal blogging and all that other work! (After all, Learn Something New starts again quite soon, you know!)

xlovesx

18 August 2012



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79 Comments for End of the Party :: My part in the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony

  1. Madeline Says:

    I did see you on TV in that brief span of time. So happy you got to do all of this. You should be very proud Shimelle

  2. Dawn Says:

    I so enjoyed reading all about your adventure. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. glee Says:

    yea! Have been looking forward to this post and you did not disappoint. mahalo for sharing w/all of us.

  4. Donna B Says:

    You may have been older than some of the other dancers but you looked the youngest. What a wonderful story you have shared with us,I saw your joy in every word. Love that you included all of us through this site.

  5. Desiree Says:

    Love, love, loved your post. Thank you so much for sharing. I read it aloud to my boyfriend who was patiently rewinding and rewinding the ceremony for me so I could see your back as the Pet Shop Boys rolled by. Congrats on such an awesome gig and for doing such a fab job :)

  6. Antoinette Says:

    Oh Shimelle, what a wonderful update. I was on the edge of my chair when the closing ceremony started, looking for you – and the only thing I could think was: wow, to be there, to actually be there and participate… amazing! Thanks for giving me the feeling that I was there too. I feel drained now, because it’s all over. Nothing to watch on TV, definitely Olympics withdrawal. But I can always come back and re-read your Olympics posts :)
    PS. My daughters are HUGE One Direction fans and they envy you for being so close to the guys (grin)

  7. Natalie Says:

    I absolutely loved reading your account, Shimelle! What an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing your (beautifully written) story :)

  8. Anne-Liesse Ankeny Says:

    Hi Shimelle! I have been waiting all week and checking in to read your wonderful writing about the experience you had at the Olympics. Thanks so much for trying to get it down in words. I was certainly looking for you on television that night, and all I could think about was how amazing and incredible and surreal it all must have felt to you. It was a great party. London did a great job! Thanks so much for your insight.
    Anne-Liesse

  9. Dogmatix Says:

    Thanks for sharing that little piece of Olympics behind the scenes. It was such a wonderful 2 weeks and I felt so proud to be British that if it wasn’t for the country I live in, I would have walked around with a Union Jack wrapped around me the whole time.
    I loved both ceremonies and reading your account of how you got to be a part of it is so inspiring, just right to ‘inspire a generation’

  10. Debbie Piercey Says:

    That is so awesome that you were chosen to be involved in this awesome event! Loved your post. You can feel the excited as you read your words! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Congrats to you!

  11. Steph Says:

    Such an awesome experience! Great that there are images of you that you can scrapbook. I’ve been re-watching parts of the opening ceremony from the NBC iPhone App to see if I can find the turquoise group. Congratulations again on such an awesome experience.

  12. alissa Says:

    this is awesome!
    thanks for sharing this amazing once in a lifetime adventure!
    so proud of you, friend!
    xo.

  13. Cheryl Says:

    What an amazing experience! Sadly, I missed the beginning of the closing ceremony but have now relived it, thank you :)

  14. Kim A. Says:

    Loved reading the story, Shimelle. I see your picture is also in the Closing Ceremony Tumblr. I think you’ll have plenty of material to scrapbook. Congratulations on a job well done!

  15. Jill in Frisco, Tx Says:

    thank you for allowing me to be a fly on your shoulder, to experience this thru your eyes and story has made it more personal is some very strange way. Thanks~
    ~Jill

  16. jengd Says:

    Sounds and looks amazing! The funny thing is that I really watched none of it this year but I saw a few minutes of the closing and a few pictures online. The pix were of a turquoise group having a party. Wish I’d looked a bit closer now. :) Glad you had a wonderful experience!

  17. senoritascrapper Says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing experience. I caught a glimpse of you during the closing ceremonies and started clapping. I was SO happy for you.

  18. Kisha Says:

    Shimelle,

    Thank you SO much for sharing your experience with us. I almost felt like I was there. :)
    I’m so happy for you that you were able to have the time of your life. :)

  19. Mary Ann Jenkins Says:

    Amazing Shimelle!! Thanks for sharing your story with us. Now for the layouts…OMGoodness I can’t wait to see those!!!

  20. Linda Trace Says:

    SHimelle, I actually teared up a bit reading this! What a great post, what a great experience!!

    I’m so glad you had a fabulous time and have these wonderful memories, I can’t wait to see how you scrap them :)

    xx

  21. Susanmcl Says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of the road leading to your big adventure! I was so happy to see you on tv that night, so very happy for you! Keep wearing the butterflies! What fun!

  22. Jennifer Rogers Says:

    You go, Shimelle! You get what you give in this world & I for one do not believe in “luck” alone. Sure, it helps, but I am sure it is your bright spirit that kept you in contention for selection and then inclusion in photos & so forth. Can’t wait to see the scrapbook pages!

  23. Jane Says:

    Bravo Shimelle. What a wonderful, amazing and totally out of this world experience. You are going to have trouble topping this one!

  24. Buttons Says:

    Hugs congrats on your performance Shimelle – it was enjoyed by 26 million people in the UK alone, yes 26 million!!! If the rest of us are having Olympics withdrawal purely from watching and being thoroughly inspired by the amazing heroism of the athletes and superb enthusiasm/effort of the gamesmakers then no wonder you feel deflated! A huge and very special scrapbook to preserve your wonderful memories is SO in order. Thank you for sharing this. Huge hugs, Buttons x

  25. carole A Says:

    Loved this post – thanks so much for sharing this with us – I felt like I had taken part LOL!

  26. Louise Says:

    Shimelle, wow an amazing story to have to tell. As a londoner i have suffered terrible London withdrawals through the Olympics and to read your amazing behind the scenes account has been wonderful. Thank you. These are memories to treasure and I so look forward to seeing how you scrap them! xx

  27. Barb in AK Says:

    I enjoyed every word of your adventure! I have Olympic withdrawl, but I can’t imagine being involved for so many months, what it must be like for you! Congratulations on living out a dream so many of us can’t realize. :-) Can’t wait to see how you scrap it!

  28. Sally Says:

    What a Fantastic exsperience loved reading about it here thanks for shareing, can’t wait to see those scrapbook pages come together Xxx

  29. Amy Says:

    This is such an enjoyable post to read Shimelle, a fantastic experience for you! A girlfriend of mine was an aerial acrobat at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, not quite the same audience, but she loved that experience.

  30. Joanne Says:

    Thank you for sharing your Olympic journey, Shimelle! I loved reading every word :)Your such a fantastic writer!

  31. Mary Buttons Says:

    Fantastic, amazing, wonderful, exciting, stupendous. Well you get the drift of what I want to say. WELL DONE YOU BRILLIANT

  32. Zahra Says:

    Love it, great reading, thank you so much! And, oh, to see those torches in real life – fabulous!

  33. Linda in Aus Says:

    Great post Shimelle thanks for sharing it, you look adorable and what a memory to keep, cant wait to see what you have planned for all of the memories.

  34. Julie R Says:

    What a wonderful post. Your joy in the experience shines through in your writing. Looking forward to LSNED. X

  35. Sigrun Campbell Says:

    I did see you on TV!!!! how amazing what an experience. I am having a bit of post Olympic sadness. I enjoyed having lots of people around when I went out! We also almost got into a car accident with Princess Anne!!! On our way home their convoy did not tell us to break soon enough so we broke right in front of her car and when I looked up it was Princess Anne!! She was there for the Dressage. It was quite exciting!!! So those little things I miss ! not to mention the big screens and food markets near my house!!! boo…..First it was the Royal Wedding then the Jubillee and now the Olympics! What are we going to do now it is all over? We need a Royal Baby I think!!!! cant wait to see your pages about it all!

  36. Kirsty Says:

    Just wonderful! I was away from London for the Olympics and felt a little bit of nostalgia every time I caught London on the telly. It’s lovely to be able to read accounts like this an live vicariously :D

    Looking forward to the scrapbook…

  37. Jan Says:

    Shimelle, I loved reading this! I have recorded most of the Olympics and am still working my way through the footage. I have been waiting to watch the closing ceremonies until I knew which part you were in so I could watch for you. Certainly sounds like a once in a lifetime experience.

  38. Sara Andrews Says:

    I loved reading this Shimelle. And I will certainly learn from you…NO dancing in Wellies for me.

  39. Moira OReilly Says:

    Wow! I enjoyed reading about your adventure so much! What a fantstic experience and accomplishment. Be proud of all you did :) and cherish the memories (and please share the layouts LOL) xx

  40. Tammy Eberhard Says:

    What a fabulous account of your involvement in the Olympics! I LOVED reading every part of it. Congratulations for being a part of something so very special.

  41. Dawn Cheshire Says:

    I’ve been waiting anxiously for your write up of events! What a fabulous experience for you all! Can’t wait to see the photos appearing in layouts very soon!

  42. Marina D-K Says:

    I so enjoyed reading about your experience with such a historical event. Certainly memories you’ll treasure forever. Thank you for including us by sharing all these wonderful bits over the past weeks.

  43. Carol Says:

    How adorable you look with that big smile and your signature butterflies in your hair! It looks and sounds like you had a lot of fun (And Work!) during all this Olympicness. I look forward to seeing how you scrapbook it all.

  44. Kirsten J Says:

    Shimelle, I have to tell you – that evening my husband wanted to meet his friend in a local sports bar for dinner. So I had seen the hubbub on TwoPeas (we’re on the West Coast in Bellevue, WA) and wanted to see you! I asked the bartender to change one of the tvs for me, and watched for a glimpse of you. Sorry to say the guys weren’t all that impressed when I told them I’d taken some scrapbook classes from one of the dancers – but I was thrilled for you!

  45. kazoulis Says:

    I love reading your stories and this one is really interesting. It must’ve been fantastic experience!

  46. Scrapdolly Says:

    So excited for you – what an amazing experience

    LOVED reading the post xx

  47. Sandy G Says:

    Thank you for sharing your amazing experience, Shimelle – I’ve been waiting to hear about it and it didn’t disappoint, so glad you had such a good time.

  48. Heatheranne Says:

    Thank you sooo much for sharing your Olympic experiences. It has added so much to the joy of this summers events in the UK and it was brilliant to read an ‘insiders’ view of the closing ceremony!

  49. Sandy Lewis Says:

    How exciting for you! Surely a once in a lifetime experience! Scrap it – with and without photos – it’s something I’d love to see when it’s done.

  50. Katherine Says:

    Fabulous blog post. My husband was a gamesmaker at the North Greenwich Arena, and is still wearing the shoes! Although down here in Dorset he hasn’t bumped into anyone else wearing them yet. We are all suffering withdrawal symptoms, can’t wait to see how you scrapbook it, maybe I could borrow your ideas for what to do with all his photos and memorabilia. x

  51. Annie M. Says:

    Oh my gosh, what a fun and fabulous experience!! As somebody who has a little (emphasis on LITTLE) bit of dance experience, I am truly in awe that you were able to be part of such a special event. Thank you for sharing all the details with us!

  52. Diane H Says:

    have enjoyed each of your posts and behind the scenes.have been reading themto my brit man who moved from Crewe,Cheshire here to Canada who has also enjoyed them as oppossed to hearing about your Glitter Girl videos,hmmm..not so much!

  53. Alison Day Says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I think I felt a lot closer to these games “knowing” someone so actively involved with them. Your love for your adopted city is so evident in every word of this post and other wonderful posts about London and the Olympics. It may have been my birthplace but as I moved half way around the world 6 short months after, it’s never felt like a home town. This summer – largely in part to your special Olympics perspective – I have felt homesick for London! Crazy, right?
    Anyway, I looked for you on TV but admittedly didn’t see you. When I told my husband that you were part of the “blue group” he gave me this blank look. Apparently he was more interested in the artists than the background dancers. Silly man! He didn’t know what he was missing!! :)
    As far as your post-Olympics doldrums are concerned, we felt them here too. After all the excitement of the 2010 games (even though we were not NEARLY as involved as you!) the let down of a deserted city was enormous. We missed all the crowds in red and white (and other country’s colours) smiling, cheering and having such a good time in the streets. You Londoners have had more of that this year than normal so maybe your feelings of bon homme and love for your neighbours will last a bit longer than ours did!
    Thanks again for making us feel like a part of things too. Can’t wait to see you Olympics layouts!

  54. MaryAnn Says:

    thanks for all the details on your adventure of a lifetime. So happy that you got the callback and accepted. Congrat’s. Can’t wait until you scrap about it…will watch for the pages!

  55. Bea Says:

    What a wonderful post. I have loved following you on twitter, facebook and instagram. I was waiting for more details on your blog and was thrilled to read them today. Thanks for sharing this and I can’t wait to see LOs. Will you have enough LOs for an upgrade album you think?

  56. Farrah Says:

    So excited for you Shimelle to have this experience. Wow what an adventure and TFS, nice getting a glimpse behind the scenes so to speak. Love the pic with the Bolt pose;)

  57. jackie Says:

    Wow! What an awesome story-you have such an exciting life. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I can’t wait to see your pages :-)

  58. Jude.x Says:

    Wow! Just wow! When you figure out how to get down from the high – can you share, please? lol. I’ve stlll not recovered from the Opening ceremony, let alone the games themselves, and I’m working my way slowly to the Closing ceremony!!!! I wasn’t at all bothered about anything until I sat down to watch the Opening ceremony, and I’m still not down from the high that gave me. Will you ever be back??? :D Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Jude.x

  59. Fiona Says:

    So glad you had the chance to be part of the Olympics. It looked like a lot of fun! I love how you described it all – very amusing! Congrats!

  60. Victoria Says:

    Thanks for sharing so vividily and extending the post olympic glow. Please share your Olympic layouts/thoughts – you are always so inspiring. PS have you bought any of the First Class gold medal stamps to include in said LOs?

  61. Laurie Says:

    I looked for you on tv in the closing ceremonies. What a wonderful experience you had. Thanks for sharing.

  62. Sharon (Sherelm) Says:

    I was just so hoping you were enjoying yourself! We missed you dearly, of course, but understood completely. Please be sure to post each and every page you do of your experience, because we do want to see them!! Congratulations on an experience of a lifetime!!

  63. Robin W. Says:

    Thank you for sharing you perspective on the Olympics. I felt much more involved watching them this year since I felt I “knew” someone right there (even if I only know you through your blog)! I kept think it would be so cool to be in London for the games. I can’t wait to see the layouts you will create from this experience! I always get lots of inspiration from you. Thanks again!!

  64. Jackie A xxx Says:

    What an experience, thanks for sharing it with us. x

  65. Julie Says:

    So so so happy for you!!! This looks like such an amazing opportunity! So glad you were able to experience it!!! And, of course, that you’ll scrapbook it all to share later!

  66. Maria Says:

    Shimelle, thank you so much for including us in your adventure. It was so much more exciting to watch knowing that you were performing. As for your age, you looked like a mere sprite of a girl and fit right in with your group. I truly think that this was one of the best Olympic games ever. Maria

  67. Jeannine H Says:

    I sooo loved reading about your Olympic experience! I found it fastinating and sometimes humorous. Thanks for sharing. By the way, can you reveal what your field of study was?

  68. Stacy V Says:

    So I looked at my CTV Olympic App (Canadian Olympic television provider), and there is a picture of the Pet Shop Boys passing by you (well, the back of you) in the Stadium as you are dancing with your troupe! How about that!

  69. Stacy V Says:

    Here’s the link to the CTV webpage: http://www.ctvolympics.ca/photos/index.html

    Just flip through the photos to #67 and you will see it!

    FYI: This isn’t spam :)

  70. L McCarty Says:

    Loved this post!! Thanks for sharing your Olympic experience with us. It was my favorite games to watch. I love London soooooo much. I think I was watching more for the scenery than the actual events. So glad it was so well done. Thanks for your part in it!

  71. Chipper Says:

    I bet you were tired after all that excitement! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am glad that you seized the opportunity to give it a go. I am looking forward to all the little snippets of stories that you will share over the coming months (or years LOL) :-)

  72. choon bin wee Says:

    so exciting to be “in” the Olympics…though pictures couldn’t be taken, I’m sure, the memoies will stay with u forever….sometimes, the brain is the best camera…even though some memories will faint…they remain sweet forever :)

  73. Julia Says:

    Wow, what an incredible experience. This was such a lovely post to read and what a fab story to be able to share as you go through life! Looking forward to the pages ;-)

  74. Loni Says:

    AMAZING! Thanks for sharing the story and of course, I can’t wait to see the related LOs. :o)

  75. Cynthia B. Says:

    So exciting!! I’m so happy for you that you got to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event! (Well…unless London gets the games for a fourth time. ;) )
    Thanks for sharing all the details and the pics!

  76. Keely Says:

    Shimelle, Thank you for giving us a backstage view of your fabulous experience!! Talk about a once in a lifetime experience. Everyone looked like they were having soooo much fun dancing in the closing ceremony. It was really fun to watch!!

  77. Jacki McHale Says:

    WOW. Thank you for letting us in on your experience! What an amazing adventure that must have been. And getting back to reality has to be a bit of it’s own adventure as well!
    JCat

  78. Alison C Says:

    I just love the way you described your experience – it felt like I was there with you! Being English, but living in Asia I have felt quite homesick at times this year – the Jubilee and the Olympics showed England at its best and Im so grateful to you for making me feel closer to it all! You did an amazing job Shimelle – cant wait to see your LO’s!

  79. Kassandra Says:

    Loved reading about your experience and seeing your photos. Looking forward to seeing how you scrap them! I danced in the paralympic opening ceremony this week and am completely unsure how to scrapbook the experience – theres too many memories for just one page but im very limited in decent photos due to the ban on taking photos during rehearsals and just the crazy excitement of the day itself. Any thoughts? I love that you included a TV shot in the page youve done, definitely using that idea!

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