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Ceremony interview with Creative Director Simone Ferrari

26 September, 2017 (09:48)
Tags: Ceremonies

The focus of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games shifts back to the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium for the finale Closing Ceremony on Wednesday, when a farewell show reunites athletes of the 65 delegations from across Asia and Oceania.

Under the direction of Simone Ferrari of Balich Worldwide Shows (BWS –, the Ashgabat 2017 Closing Ceremony will be a spectacular performance for the attendees and millions of viewers worldwide.

It will bring to an end the 12 days of thrilling competition seen by tens of thousands of spectators and reconize the inspirational efforts of thouands of First Star volunteers, who have shown the warmth and friendliness of Turkmenistan to all the visitors to Ashgabat throughout these amazing Games.

Speaking during a break from rehearsals, Ferrari shared insight into what viewers can expect to witness on the night. 

“In some sense, in the Closing Ceremony you can celebrate the Games more, be more artistic, as it doesn't have to tell only the story chapters of the country,” said Ferrari. “There will be more representations of sport and nation, and the art of it, which will mix different medias such as performance and projections.” 

Ferrari is a young Italian Director, who has gained extensive experience in large-scale shows, from Olympic Ceremonies to big arena spectacles, working with the best professionals in the world of entertainment.

He says some artistic segments will tell a fantasy interpretation of Turkmenistan, for example seeing the country through the eyes of children. 

“The intention is always to show the self to the world - the history of the country, to understand it, to see how artists have the seen the country previously. You try to enter this vision, to see how it has been interpreted before. This show is for a Turkmen audience, so I seek to connect with their artistic taste and knowledge, so my interpretation is rooted in what already exists.

“I try to create unexpected transformation, have a turning point that changes everything, or surprise out of something familiar. There must always be one big image in each segment, that you will always remember.”

Ferrari makes his leadership debut here as Creative Director, and is expected to demonstrate his style and ability to mix different media techniques. 

As overall Creative Director for BWS, the 29-year-old is responsible for creating a culture within the company for how it will produce big shows and face new challenges. Since working on the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Closing Ceremony, he has been a creative producer for big arena shows such as OperaPop, and major productions in Kazakhstan. In the United Arab Emirates, his team worked on National Day celebrations, where they managed to create rain inside a theatre built from scratch.

“This is my stadium debut, it's a big milestone for me. I'm a former professional musician who studied theatre. As a creative person, I've always tried to marry music with the show system, such as in the style of the Italian company version of 'Stomp', which I worked in. 

"I like the big show environment, the cutting-edge tech and big storytelling. It has universal language, that is not like theatre but is visual and related to music, emotion and video. It needs no words to speak."

Hundreds of volunteers for the Closing show were recruited in April, and rehearsals began mid-August at the Ashgabat Stadium – the so called ‘one-to-one’ venue (the term for a temporary or replica performance field). The rehearsals transfered to the Olympic Stadium just three days before the big night. 

“You question yourself and others, everyone questions you, themselves, and each other, because you are pushing people to go with you and deliver what is asked. It is not a one man show, it only exists with hundreds of us working together. 

“Direction for me, in the final few weeks, is more like 'taming an animal' than trying to insist on your vision. It's being sure that in every answer you give, you have certainty,” he says. 

“You are cooking something that is not ready yet, but you know the taste it will have. Even if you never tried it, you know it. You have to trust yourself and be relaxed about it, because no-one else has the same idea,” he explains. 

“You try to create a vision and be faithful to it, convinced that it has a sense, and any nerves near Games-Time is only part of the adrenaline and is normal.”

Ferrari says any country showcasing itself to the world for the first time must be brave from a language point of view. 

“It is a statement of 'this is me', 'this is how I want to be seen by the world'. It's a platform for statements unrelated to politics, plus the celebration of sport, and a big message of hope, which is a trademark for BWS shows.”

Recognising the sense of community from the show is important, he says. 

“The recognition of common language, the common way of seeing art, the shared tools and words. This is a reaction that happens for all nationalities who witness these kind of shows – it is the same emotion that resonates within us all.

“It is the message of hope that brings this emotion, to know that you can be better, and that you are able to achieve the beauty that you are witnessing in the show.”         
Ferrari says the Closing show is dedicated to the First Star volunteers, as without them the staggering achievement of bringing Ashgabat 2017 to reality wouldn’t have happened.

“I hope they will leave with a strong happiness, and feel their work has been meaningful, feel proud, connected, having created a portrait of Turkmenistan that is not in the books, and that they can recognise themselves in it. I hope they can look to their country and its artists and see it from a different view. I'm happy if I can accomplish this.”

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