The opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics is Friday, August 5, and it's expected to be a dazzling spectacle that will explore the history of Brazil. Crucial to that goal are the 6,000 dancers who will bring the story to life, showing off the Brazilian people's passion and talent for dance. The mastermind behind those dancers is Rio native Deborah Colker, the Olympics opening ceremony's choreographer. Her work will be on display for over a billion people worldwide, and judging from her previous experience, she's more than ready for the challenge.
Colker is one of the biggest names in modern dance in the world and has a history of using the sights and feelings of Brazil to build and enrich her work, making her the perfect choice to handle the opening ceremony. "My work is like Brazil," Colker said in a press release, adding, "the mix of colors, the dynamics and rhythms, the happiness and possibility of a long way of discovery. It's an honor to me that my background is this beautiful, creative, and musical country."
Colker didn't develop her love of dance until she was 16 years old. The daughter of a violinist, she began her artistic career with music, starting with piano lessons at eight years old and playing with an orchestra by age 14. But she soon realized that she needed to express herself physically as well. Initially, Colker tried, and succeeded at, volleyball — she played professionally with the Rio team before she was even 16. Soon, however, she found her love of modern dance, a passion which she has pursued for over 20 years.
In 1994, she created her own dance company, Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker, which launched her to international acclaim. She choreographed and produced several celebrated shows in just a few years, including Vulcão (1994), Velox (1995), Rota (1997), Casa (1999), 4 Por 4 (2002), and Mix (1996), for which she won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award in 2001. She also worked as a choreographer on Cirque du Soleil's OVO, which premiered in 2009.
Colker's work is especially beloved by the Brazilian people, another reason she was so well suited to her role in the Rio Olympics. She once had a sold-out run in Rio that lasted two months, a nearly unprecedented feat for a modern dance piece. The familiar Brazilian dances and music that Colker incorporates into her work should be a huge hit with the crowds at the opening ceremony, and a great representation of Brazilian culture for the rest of the world.
Colker's work will take center stage on Friday night as hundreds of millions tune in to watch the ceremony from around the globe. The show will feature the best of Brazilian art and dance, celebrating the passion and joy of the Brazilian people. Colker's work should be a magnificent beginning to the Rio Olympics, and a tribute to her beautiful home country.