Saturday, February 15

olympics: history of the dove of peace

the dove of peace

During the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, one of the many standout moments was the Dove of Peace performance, which featured ballerina Diana Vishneva and other dancers performing to music from Swan Lake with glowing, spinning, jellyfish-like props meant to represent doves in flight.  I was intrigued by the unique performance, and did some research on the history of the symbolic Dove of Peace at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

The lighting of the Olympic Flame has been accompanied by the release of doves, symbolizing peace, since the post-World War I 1920 Summer games.  Since the Lillehammer, Norway Winter Olympics in 1994, symbolic doves rather than live doves have accompanied the lighting of the Olympic Flame.

In the most recent Winter Olympics, held in Vancouver, Canada in 2010, the Dove of Peace was represented by a projection on the stadium floor during k.d. lang's performance of "Hallelujah."

Turin, Italy's Opening Ceremonies in 2006 featured 28 acrobats creating the Dove of Peace with their bodies.

When the U.S. last hosted the Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002, the Opening Ceremonies included ice skaters flying theatrical dove-shaped kites as Sting and Yo-Yo Ma performed "Fragile."

In Nagano in 1998, biodegradable dove-shaped balloons were released following the lighting of the Olympic Flame.

In Lillehammer, the first symbolic doves were balloons as well, with a larger dove emerging from a large egg shape.

The Summer Olympics have also featured symbolic Dove of Peace in their Opening Ceremonies.  In 2012's Summer games in London, 75 Dove Bikes featuring LED-lit wings entered the stadium in honor of Bradley Wiggins, the British cyclist who'd won the Tour de France just days before, as the Arctic Monkeys played "Come Together."

Watch the Beijing Opening Ceremonies artistic section on YouTube

At Beijing's lavish Opening Ceremonies in 2008, fireworks were used to portray a dove in flight, along with brightly lit dancers arranging themselves in the shape of the Dove of Peace and forming the bird's nest shape of the Beijing National Stadium during the performance by pianist Lang Lang and five-year-old Li Muzi during the artistic section's modern segment.

At the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004, runner George Sabanis carried an olive branch flag symbolizing peace and the city of Athens itself around the stadium, crossing tape dedicated to the previous 27 Olympic Games as he ran.  Doves appeared on three LCD rings representing a globe, which then displayed names of the cities through which the Olympic Flame had journeyed on its way to Athens.  A spectacular fireworks presentation followed the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

Sydney's Opening Ceremony in 2000 included a section which featured the projection of Olympic heroes, a Dove of Peace holding an olive branch, and the Olympic rings on an enormous piece of white cloth that was brought over the crowd in flowing waves, then held by the athletes as Australian singer-songwriter Vanessa Amorosi performed "Heroes Live Forever."

In the last U.S. Summer games, Atlanta 1996, the Dove of Peace was represented in several ways:  while film composer John Williams led the orchestra in "Summon the Heroes," performers formed the shape of the Olympic Rings and a flying Dove of Peace with their bodies.  Later, the Dove of Peace arrived again in the form of 100 theatrical dove-shaped paper kites flown by children across the track.

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