After two 5 hour auditions, I started my journey earlier this year. Months of exhausting and mind-blowing rehearsals, lots of secrecy, several friendships forged,, many bottles of water, and tons of sandwiches later, and now my Olympic adventure is over!
We started our rehearsals at Three Mills Studios (where the auditions also took place). We then moved to outdoor rehearsals in Dagenham unitl we finally made our entrance in the Olympic Park. We were the Thanks Tim crew, also known as #teamKenrick, and we represented the 80s/90s music in the ceremony.
Every rehearsal we learnt a new routine, and we thought that would be it, then at the next rehearsal they taught us another one. I remember how difficult we all found it at the beginning, and now the moves are like second nature.
The magnificent Kenrick and his dance captains took charge of our segment. They were all absolutely amazing. They kept smiling, cracking jokes and showed so much patience when teaching us. There was always a dance captain around when I felt utterly lost. They must have seen the fear in my eyes.
Our main dance captain was Skytilz!!! *applause* She was always so incredibly positive, even when she had hayfever she was there dancing away with us, handing out compliments and very kind reprimands. I’ve learnt that when a dance captain tells you to go low, you do it. (She tested it by swinging her fist over your head ;-)) Skytilz has turned into a hero for 49F. She is a star and I’m so grateful to her for everything she did for our group.
All the dance captains were wonderful though, and they were ready with a smile when you needed it. Some of the moves we did were so unnatural to me that something went wrong mith my right arm and shoulder. I attended a few rehearsals sporting a wonderful sling :-S I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to continue rehearsals, and I attended each rehearsal thinking that soon someone would tap me on the shoulder and ask me to leave… Instead I had some worried and caring dance captains asking me how I was and teling me to rest and watch if I needed to. I told Skytilz that clapping was a problem (we did a lot of clapping) and she said that I could just high-five the person next to me instead! Even Kenrick took the time to make sure I was ok, through mime mind you, but still, caring!
Thankfully my osteopath sorted me out just enough for me to continue dancing!
We’ve had granulated tea, we’ve practised funnelling, we’ve run/jogged/sauntered into homebase to have our bibs and fm’s collected, we’ve been manouvered by a fantastic mass team led by #let’skickthispig Gina, we’ve skanked and smurfed and generally had an amazing experience. Everytime we started to feel complacent about rehearsals something fab happened. We moved to a new venue or we were given t-shirts or nude-coloured headphones (easily pleased ;-))
It’s weird how it became normal for us all to go to rehearsal at the Olympic Park, watching the amazing stage, being moved around by the mass team, choreographed by Team Kenrick and seeing Danny Boyle grinning in every rehearsal! To quote my new friend, Sophie Dewing, “It’s crazy!”
Everyone expected a lot from us, and it took up a lot of our time. If I wasn’t surrounded by so many beautiful friends and didn’t have such a wonderful family there was no way I could have done it. They picked my kids up from school and entertained them for the day, even feeding them sometimes (and that’s not always easy!), taken them to gymnastics and to birthday parties. I hereby salute you all!
When we got to Eton Manor and saw our costumes lined up, the hair and make-up teams ready for us, and all the chairs with our bib numbers on them it all became extremely real. I had way too much fun experimenting with my hair and ended up with a lovely blue mohican. Brushing it out today was not fun, but it was so worth it! My friend Charlene became my mohican buddy and we wandered around, mostly with another friend, Anna, surveying the area, which was full of nurses, doctors, ravers, punks, death eaters and a lot of very dirty people (industrial revolution peeps). It ws like attending a photoshoot when you left the tent!
Walking from Eton Manor towards the stadium for the last time on Friday 27th July knowing that we would be performing to the world was both emotional and extremely exciting. We bounced our way to the beat of the drummers accompanying the Industrial Revolution, we sang along to ‘God Save The Queen’ and screamed our way into the Vom where we entered from.
From Vom 2, onto the M25, construct the tube, jog around to our stairs whilst grinning and chatting, line up, Gina:”80s 90s, that’s you, let’s go go go! Crouch down!”, smiley face, rotate, Blue Monday, Relax, Back to Life, Eurythmics, Firestarter, Bonkers, run for your life whilst partying to the house without knocking into the pros and the Now-dancers, in the front door, No! In the side door.No! Run like the wind down the left ramp onto the M25 to Valerie, dance some more, Bonkers again, Tim Berners-Lee is revealed, silence. We turn, right fist to left shoulder, right fist in the air, wave, run for your life to Vom5.
After the show I celebrated with Charlene, Gemma and the two new Emmas in my life by doing our routine again in an extremely small space and reminiscing (already) in the hotel bar whilst eating burgers and pizza at 3.30 am.
And that was the end of that. I hope I manage to stay in touch with all these new friends and I hope that the kids will one day understand what I’ve been part of and be proud of me.
Running out of the stadium for the last time on Friday waving at the audience I cried a little. I’ll never experience anything like that ever again, but I remember every second of it, in detail.