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Beijing Games kicks off
By Raymond Zhou (
Updated: 2008-08-09 07:19

It was grand. It was eye-poping. It was filled with oohs and aahs.

Fireworks light up the National Stadium in Beijing during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008. [Agencies] 

The curtain is pulled, the show is staged, and the Games officially kicked off at the 8th minute, 08/08/08, a team of four eights that will bode well for the Chinese, and the world.

It's time of joy, and it's time of world unity.

China's brand-new National Stadium, also nicknamed Bird's Nest, is packed with more than 90,000, among them are a slew of heads of states, princes and princesses, government ministers, celebrities of all walks, and IOC president, vice-presidents and members, athletes and visitors from all over the world, who all are distinguished guests of China.

The opening ceremony celebrated Chinese civilization and the importance of harmony. As a production of performing arts, it had got to be the biggest in Chinese history, with 15,000 people in the cast and 13 months of rehearsal time. Here is a rundown of the numbers for the show.

The Opening

The star of this number is a drum called fou, which can be traced back to the Xia and Shang dynasties (2070BC-1046BC). It was made of ceramic or bronze and resembles the ancient vessel of ding, commonly seen in museums and dating from the same period.

Percussionists hit their Fou drums at the start of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing on August 8, 2008. [Agencies]

The 2,008 fou drums form a matrix that occupies both sides of the arena, leaving only the central rectangle empty.

Of course, these are more than regular square drums. The top can emit light, and so can the two sticks. When robe-clad drummers beat on them, gargantuan words and shapes appear, such as the countdown numbers and the effect of sweeping light.

At the heart of this number lies the traditional group calisthenics. But the high-tech upgrade gives it a palpable surprise: No more flipping of cards; no more human bodies forming gigantic flower petals. It is art steeped in 3,000 years of history.

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