Guest Post for Happy Homemaker UK

Ah, the magic of the blogging world :)

Over the last two years I've been following 
Laura Porter's travel blog
written by an English mom with good ideas of things to do
in London

Having been a gymnast and wanna-be professional dancer myself,
I was dying to know what it was like to actually be on stage
during the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

I asked Laura if she'd be a guest blogger
so we could get the inside scoop

You're in for a treat!

Written by Laura Porter

Did you watch the BBC comedy 'Twenty Twelve'? This was one of my favourite lines:

"Danny Boyle wants more nurses?"
"Yes, we'd all like more nurses. I've not seen one all morning."
"No, he'd like more dancing nurses in the Opening Ceremony."
"No, he'll just have to make them dance harder. It worked for Benny Hill, it'll work for Danny."

I'm proud to say I was one of the volunteer cast, in the section celebrating the NHS, for the Olympics Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July 2012. I'm sure you all saw the show but I thought you might like to know some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that went into creating the biggest live show in the world.

Walking to the stadium

Every nurse and doctor had a costume made to fit them so just stop and imagine the work for the Costume Team. There were 900 volunteers in our section and the whole show had around 10,000 cast members and everyone was treated as an individual and had costume tweaks to ensure they looked good.

Instructions for hairstyle
(click photo to enlarge)

We got together to rehearse on over 20 days from April to July and the length of each rehearsal grew from 3 hours to over 12 hours a day in the final week. It was an enormous commitment but we all did it as we wanted to be part of something so special. Yes, we whinged at times but generally we were a freakishly positive bunch who got frustrated when unsure of dance steps but were elated when a 'run through' went well. There's nothing to take away the pride when you look up in the stands and see Danny Boyle, the Artistic Director, who had been sitting on his own jumping up and down and clapping us at the end when all went well. His energy and hands-on approach was what kept many of us going. He was at every rehearsal and always had time to talk to us whether it was about the show or telling jokes while waiting around. The man's imagination is more incredible than most of us can comprehend as when we saw the vision video for the plan of our section we all sat there in silence wondering how that could be achieved. We watched it again when we were about halfway through rehearsals and we could then see it all coming together.

Make-up guideline

Hair, Makeup & Heels
We all had to achieve a 1940s Victory roll hairstyle which was challenging for me as I'm not a 'girly girl' and don't really do hairstyles as I have a big mop of curls that don't like being tamed. The girls around me laughed as my bed-spring curls escaped each day and a lot of hairspray was needed to set the style.

Me in costume

I never wear makeup – I told you I was a rubbish girl – so the heavy black eyeliner with a flick at the end was beyond me and the lovely girls I dance near were fantastic at making me up for dress rehearsals and the final show.

We danced in heels and I had to learn to walk in them first as I always wear flats but at least I was entertaining to the girls in my section.

Nothing can compare to the immense pride of appearing in a show that will go down in history. We had concerns along the way that people might laugh at us in some bits but that's what being British is all about – knowing that humour should be part of the show, along with normal, everyday folk who came together to make it happen. Excuse me now if I go and have another little weep of pride – again.

 Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing your amazing experience!
I loved every word of it

Postscipt: Approximately 75% of the NHS cast was comprised of actual NHS employees. Laura emailed me that the Mary Poppins aerialists sent chocolates to the NHS volunteer cast with a note saying the NHS was a 'spoonful of sugar!'. What a great sense of community :)

Laura Porter writes the London Travelsite (part of the New York Times Company) and is also a Visit Britain Super Blogger. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen's. You can follow Laura at @AboutLondon.