China News Service, Beijing, February 21st: How did the opening and closing ceremonies "Romantic Engineer" resonate?

Interview with Zhang Wenhai, creator of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics

  Author Xie Yanbing Ma Shuaisha

  The huge Chinese knot reflecting each other between heaven and earth, the "city of two Olympics" with a sense of time travel back in time, and the long-lasting fire-off ceremony... The closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics once again staged a Chinese-style romance.

What is the difference between opening and closing ceremonies?

How are many "famous scenes" designed?

How did the "romantic engineers" of the opening and closing ceremonies resonate with traditional Chinese culture?

In addition to bringing us a visual feast, what will the opening and closing ceremonies leave for China and the world?

  Zhang Wenhai, the main creator of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the director of the closing ceremonies, and the deputy dean of the School of Education of the Beijing Dance Academy, accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency and gave an authoritative interpretation of the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Zhang Wenhai, chief creator of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics, director of the closing ceremonies, and deputy dean of the School of Education of Beijing Dance Academy.

Photo courtesy of Zhang Wenhai

"Famous Scene" Thought Inventory

  Reporter: What are the similarities and differences between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics?

  Zhang Wenhai: One of the opening and closing ceremonies is the first part and the other is the second part. The aesthetics, concepts and styles are consistent.

The difference is that the opening ceremony will be more enthusiastic and passionate, while the closing ceremony will focus more on warmth and emotion.

During the 16 days, the athletes worked very hard, and they all gained whether they won the medal or not, so the closing ceremony was free and warm, expressing happiness and joy.

  Reporter: At the closing ceremony, the Chinese knot attracted the attention of the outside world, and like the opening ceremony countdown "Lichun", it subtly spread Chinese traditional culture.

How did the director team think about this?

  Zhang Wenhai: Actually, the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics are different from the 2008 Olympic Games in the way that traditional Chinese culture is displayed.

2008 is a grand narrative, telling about the 5,000-year history of China, with a lot of actors and a lot of chapters.

This year, under the creative principle of "simplicity, safety, and wonderfulness", it is simple but not simple, and more directly appealing to people's hearts.

  Like the twenty-four solar terms "Li Chun" before the opening ceremony, it is very technological, direct and modern, making traditional culture closely related to the life of modern people, and can also resonate with people all over the world.

  Director Zhang Yimou has always emphasized that we should not make a museum-style preaching, and that traditional culture must resonate with young people today and the world.

Therefore, the closing ceremony is the same, to achieve the modern expression of traditional culture.

  I also happen to be the breakout director in charge of the athlete's entry ceremony.

When athletes from all over the world enter the stadium, the sky and the ground are covered by huge Chinese knot lines.

On the ground, 12 crystal-clear skates drew lines on the ice and weaved them into Chinese knots.

Each skate is a zodiac sign, representing the Chinese zodiac, carrying children carrying snow lanterns, conveying the children's innocence and love.

In the sky, the "threads" flying in from outside the "Bird's Nest" are woven into Chinese knots in the air.

The sky and the earth reflect each other, and the ceremony and performance are integrated in one go.

Athletes from different countries have different skin colors and wear clothes of different colors to walk on the Chinese knot.

  Why use Chinese knot?

Because the Chinese knot is not only a traditional Chinese symbol, but also a symbol of eternal knot and heart-to-heart connection, reflecting "the world is united, the world is one family", "towards the future together", and the Olympic spirit of "more unity".

And foreigners can easily interpret this, it is the best choice.

  Reporter: How did you come up with the design for the entry of athletes at the closing ceremony?

  Zhang Wenhai: The biggest protagonists of the closing ceremony are the athletes. The closing ceremony is the home for the athletes to rejoice. To cheer for them, to cheer for them, we must make them comfortable, relaxed and happy.

  Athletes at the closing ceremony were mixed, with a total of about 1,500 people.

Under the epidemic, the number of athletes from all over the world who stayed to participate in the closing ceremony exceeded our imagination. It can be seen that the Beijing Winter Olympics attracted them.

Accompanied by the melody of "Ode to Joy", the classic work of all mankind, more than 1,500 athletes and Chinese knots are a very beautiful landscape.

  There are a total of 9 short films in the closing ceremony, reflecting the wonderful moments, touching moments and farewell moments of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Among them, "2022, with me!

", brought together the moments when athletes won gold and silver, and let everyone applaud them again.

  Reporter: The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games has a fixed part of "reminiscence". How did you think about the "reminiscence moment" and "Love in the Willow" at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics?

  Zhang Wenhai: This piece of creativity is a difficult point. After many creative planning, we overturned it and started over again. In the end, we made it into a form that is less sad, more moving, and more future-oriented.

  The stage of "Breaking the Willows and Sending Love" uses green as the main color tone, presenting the image of the coming of winter and the coming of spring and the blossoming of flowers in spring, reflecting the Chinese philosophy of "reincarnation".

At the same time, the memory is a group portrait, and the emotions in it are facing the world.

  In ancient China, when relatives and friends were separated, the see-off would always break a wicker stick to give to those who traveled far away.

Liu, the same as "stay", means farewell and hope to return.

With such a meaning at the closing ceremony, I hope that athletes from all over the world can leave good memories when they stay in China.

  Reporter: At the closing ceremony, the stage of extinguishing the main torch once again shocked everyone. What kind of concept did it convey to us?

  Zhang Wenhai: At the closing ceremony, the main torch was extinguished. The bright and classic five rings of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and this year's crystal-clear snowflakes complemented each other. I think it should move the world, especially for the "Double Olympics".

This link, both visually and musically, complements each other.

In 2008's "Me and You" and this year's "Snowflake", the two theme songs were presented at the same time, which also reflected the concept of "Double Olympic City".

  The main torch is very slow when it is turned off, and the control of the rhythm is in place.

Director Zhang Yimou said, don't be in a hurry at this time, you have to hold your breath and keep your breath.

The flame was out, and it was about to spread to the world.

On the periphery of the main torch, the flagpole is lit, which means that the flames gathered in Beijing are extinguished, but the flame of the Olympics is still continuing and will never be extinguished.

Actors rehearse before the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Photo courtesy of Zhang Wenhai

Technology, Dance and Music

  Reporter: How do you understand the combination of technology and dance at the opening and closing ceremonies, and what are the difficulties?

What are the highlights?

  Zhang Wenhai: This year is the Science and Technology Olympics, and science and technology are the embodiment of the country's comprehensive strength.

We have made a lot of attempts to combine culture and technology, art and technology.

The fusion of technology and art is the fusion of technology and emotion.

Under the principle of simplicity, we use technology as a carrier of expression to interact with people's emotions, reflecting "people's nature" and "simplicity".

  The interaction of the "Snowflake" program at the opening ceremony was temporary. Just a few days before the opening ceremony, the director team felt that letting children run freely was more empathetic than choreography.

We use technology to interact in real time. Wherever the child runs, that place will light up. The combination of technology and emotion shows the child's innocent, romantic and free character.

This was inspired again after the live rehearsal, but the director team was willing to take the risk and thought it was worth it.

  In fact, behind the dance is culture, politics, and economy.

A national event like the Olympic Games, whether it is dance or music, bears and carries the world view, values, and Chinese traditional and modern elements. It is presented in one way and one carrier.

  Reporter: We heard that "The Moment of Remembrance" has the soundtrack of "Farewell". In terms of music selection, what are the principles for the closing ceremony?

  Zhang Wenhai: The music for "Reminiscence Moments" uses Li Shutong's "Farewell" because it is relatively familiar.

In fact, music is also very important. There are several principles for the selection of music. One is classics, so that people around the world can have empathy and consensus.

  The music of the athlete's entrance ceremony used "Ode to Joy" to show the happy and carnival-like atmosphere of athletes from all over the world.

And "Ode to Joy" was originally a poem written by Schiller, which itself is an expression of love.

Love can dissolve everything, love can tolerate and unite everything, and it can connect people across nations, regions, national borders, and people, so "Ode to Joy" fits this scene very well.

Zhang Wenhai, chief creator of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics, director of the closing ceremonies, and deputy dean of the School of Education of Beijing Dance Academy.

Photo courtesy of Zhang Wenhai

behind the scenes

  Reporter: From the end of the opening to the preparation for the closing ceremony, what difficulties did you encounter during the tense rehearsal time, and how did you solve them?

  Zhang Wenhai: It's really too difficult.

On February 10th, we moved into the "Bird's Nest". When we came in, the "Bird's Nest" was still under construction.

  The huge LED screen at the opening ceremony took hundreds of people 24 hours to dismantle.

Because the opening ceremony on the 4th ended, we had to enter the venue on the 10th. If we couldn’t take it down, the stage art and equipment would not be installed, and the closing ceremony would be too late.

When dismantling, the floor screen must be covered with protective boards, and rehearsal is not allowed. The first three days are all cross-work assignments. This is a race against time and a challenge with one's own spirit and perseverance.

Everyone only sleeps three or four hours a day, and many challenges are beyond ordinary people's perseverance.

  Sometimes I have to go through the process 4 times a day.

We thought we could have better ideas, so we need to keep practicing, and we still have some fine-tuning on the opening day.

Director Zhang Yimou is with us almost every day. He is the hardest person and the person who sleeps the least.

He brings together everyone's creativity. He is very keen, precise and highly skilled. He can improve and implement everyone's shining points again. Culturally, from various perspectives, he is recognized by the world.

Zhang Wenhai is in the "Bird's Nest".

Photo courtesy of Zhang Wenhai

youth perspective

  Reporter: You also have a special identity as an educator at the Beijing Dance Academy, and 95% of the performers at the opening ceremony are young people. What do you think this conveys?

  Zhang Wenhai: This year, there are no stars in the cast group, which reflects people's nature.

The actors are all young people, most of them are students of primary and secondary schools.

My main job is a teacher, and I have been doing it for more than 20 years. The opening and closing ceremonies give me a sense of the future.

  Beijing Dance Academy has participated in many large-scale activities, and the group of students participating in large-scale activities is a live version of practical education, and they can get benefits outside the classroom.

From a small classroom to a big stage and a big society, it is a kind of increment and empowerment for students. Students will learn about politics, culture, economy, diplomacy, technology, and teamwork.

To experience his spirit and cognition on such a big stage is a big education and the most beautiful classroom.

  This year, the director team is also very young, especially in the video team, the technology team, and the staff are very young.

The old, middle and young generations are together, and everyone is equal. We are especially willing to absorb the good ideas of young people. Director Zhang Yimou is the oldest, but his thoughts are very active and he likes to communicate with young people very much.

Therefore, everyone saw that the opening and closing ceremonies were not outdated, but thriving and vigorous, with a sense of technology and the future, which also has a lot to do with the team structure.

  Reporter: As an educator and the chief creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics, what do you think is the connection between the two?

  Zhang Wenhai: From the teacher to the director, from the podium to the stage, the transformation of these two roles is to change the perspective and environment, continue my teaching, and continue my artistic life. I feel honored.

Teachers in the new era need to have comprehensive literacy, broad vision and executive ability.

From being a teacher to a director, it has a great impact on my personal abilities, which will eventually feed back to teaching, in order to better educate people.

A group photo of Zhang Wenhai and Zhang Yimou.

Photo courtesy of Zhang Wenhai

individual and country

  Reporter: As a "Double Olympics" person, can you give us a further explanation of the concept of paying tribute to the "Double Olympics" at the closing ceremony?

  Zhang Wenhai: During the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics this year, the main creative team had a lot of pressure and challenges.

How is it different from 2008?

How to present the world outlook, aesthetic outlook, artistic outlook and attitude towards the world of Chinese people in different eras?

In the past 14 years, the world has undergone earth-shaking changes, and China's national strength and cultural self-confidence are also constantly improving.

  At the closing ceremony, "closing the mouth" is very important, so we want to reflect the "Double Olympics" and relive the glory of Beijing as the "city of double Olympics", so that some wonderful memories of the Chinese people can be reproduced.

The part of paying tribute to the volunteers was the first in China in the 2008 Olympic Games. This year, in the selection of volunteers, the "Double Olympic Volunteers" who served the two Olympic Games were selected to pay tribute to them.

  Reporter: As a "Double Olympics" person, from the perspective of personal growth, what are your insights?

  Zhang Wenhai: I am very lucky.

During the 14 years of "Double Olympics", from the changes in creativity and the attitude of discussing issues, what we do is to stand with the country, integrate personal pursuits into the needs of the country, and follow the pulse of the times to create, educate and educate people. Going to dance is very lucky.

During the 14 years that China has grown stronger, we have enjoyed the opportunities and challenges that the country has brought to us as cultural people, artists, and educators.

After 14 years of experience, I have seen the strength of the motherland.

In terms of art, teaching, and educating people, I have grown, and I feel that the situation is bigger.

  Reporter: In addition to bringing us a visual feast, what will the opening and closing ceremonies leave for China and the world?

  Zhang Wenhai: I personally think that a new image of China in the new era should be left to the world.

If the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games left the world China's 5,000 years of splendid civilization, then this time it should show the world China's attitude, determination and strength towards the future in the new era.

  The Science and Technology Olympics show vitality, strength and self-confidence, which can make the world have more confidence in China.

The world has more confidence in China, and China will be able to unite with the people of the world to face the great changes unseen in a century.

In the global environment, the confidence of the country is very important. The confidence of the country is the confidence of the people. I think the Beijing Winter Olympics embodies such a spirit, so it is called "together to the future".

The opening and closing ceremonies are the conceptual transformation of "together to the future".