Artemis Ignatiou, the choreographer of the Flame-lighting Ceremony in Ancient Olympia to be held at 12 o'clock at noon on March 24, in this undated photo. The Olympic flame ritual for this year's Beijing Games torch relay will introduce new elements such as male dancers, live music and a tableau recreating the frieze displays of ancient Greek temples, Ignatiou said on Thursday. [Sina.com]
ATHENS - The Olympic flame ritual for this year's Beijing Games torch relay will introduce new elements such as male dancers, live music and a tableau recreating the frieze displays of ancient Greek temples, the ceremony's new choreographer said on Thursday.
"Every ceremony is different," said Artemis Ignatiou, taking over from longtime head choreographer Maria Hors who retired after 40 years of service.
"Only the first part which is inspired by Greek antiquity remains basically unchanged," she said.
"This year we will have six male dancers acting out a scene from the pentathlon", an ancient Games competition combining race, wrestling, long jump, javelin and discus throw events, she said.
The 30-minute ritual on March 24 will see actresses in the role of ancient Greek priestesses coaxing the Olympic flame into life with the help of a parabolic polished mirror at ancient Olympia, southwestern Greece, where the Games were born in 776 BC.
The new head priestess, actress Maria Nafpliotou, will call on the ancient Greek god of light Apollo to light the flame.
The ceremony will also feature live music with four musicians playing flute, drums and rattles, Ignatiou said.
"Since 2000 when music was first introduced to the ritual it was mostly playback," she said.
The Olympic flame will then symbolically cover 1,528 kilometres (950 miles) on Greek soil during a seven-day relay.
Greek taekwondo athlete Alexandros Nikolaidis, a silver medalist at the Athens 2004 Games, will be the first relay runner followed by Luo Xuejuan, China's 2004 Olympics gold medal swimmer.
The flame will be handed over to the Chinese Olympic Committee on March 30 in another ceremony at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.
Greek organisers also said Thursday that they have set an age limit for future ceremony priestesses with a mind to television audiences.
"The image that goes out is very important...and the younger the priestesses are, the prettier they are," said Hellenic Olympic Committee member and IOC vice-president Lambis Nikolaou. The Beijing Olympics open on August 8.