Closing ceremony of the World Cup final: lights, colour and action

The VWV Consortium produced a closing ceremony arguably fit to raise the curtain on Africa's first World Cup Final. The spectacular performance involved approximately 730 cast members - although a lot less than the opening ceremony - it made way for a completely different event. The ceremony included cutting edge technology and sophisticated projection that translated into reverting and cutting edge entertainment while still capturing an African feel.
Closing ceremony of the World Cup final: lights, colour and action - VWV GroupClosing ceremony of the World Cup final: lights, colour and action - VWV Group
Closing ceremony of the World Cup final: lights, colour and action - VWV GroupClosing ceremony of the World Cup final: lights, colour and action - VWV Group
The multifaceted event began with a countdown as the impressive South African Air Force Gripen Fighter Jets from 2 Squadron flew over the stadium. The ceremony followed central themes that included: a return to the calabash, a tribute to the fans, honouring the rival teams, and a celebration of the South African spirit. Highlights of the show included a herd of life size elephant puppets, a projected newspaper page peeling back to reveal match footage, and the crowd pleasing rendition of a Sophiatown gumboot dancing sequence. Other firm favourites included high flying pyrotechnic 'comets', and a thunder storm with projected rain that abated to reveal a water-hole set in the African bush.

Abey Mokgwatsane, CEO of VWV Group said, "The plan for the closing ceremony was an infusion of lights, a colourful cast and a musical extravaganza. We are very pleased with the end results of both this and the opening ceremony, and are convinced that our two years of planning and diligent work paid off. Feedback is that the world enjoyed our productions, and our hard working team took honour in producing the events."

Audiences of the 215 countries that broadcast the ceremony enjoyed musical performances by a list of top African talent such as Stoan, Jozi, Zulu Boy, Silkour, Kwesta, 2 Face, Chameleone, Awadi, Rola Saad, Krotai, Samini, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ishashemhlope, Malaika, Nianell and the Africa United Performers. A definite showstopper was Shakira and Freshlyground who performed the popular 'Waka Waka' song that became synonymous with the 2010 world cup. "With a litany of extremely talented artists out there it was a difficult task to decide between performers; we do however believe that our selection offered depth and variety, and successfully showcased the finest talent on offer," said Mark Steinhobel, co-executive producer for the ceremonies and Chairman of VWV.

The closing ceremony was an explosive and dynamic production and feedback was unanimous: The VWV Consortium delivered on its promise to stage a world-class performance. The closing ceremony flawlessly inaugurated one of the world's biggest events and in doing so celebrated Africa's success in hosting the FIFA World Cup 2010™.

The closing ceremony brief:
1. Theme: Return to the calabash - In the Opening Ceremony the tournament was out to stadiums across South Africa, now it was returned back to Soccer city.
  • As the countdown approached zero, the South African Air Force Gripen Fighter Jets from 2 Squadron flew over the stadium.
  • With the calabash symbolising hospitality and friendship in African culture it was fitting to welcome the world back to the place where it all began.
  • As the voice-over concluded the production cut to a high helicopter shot of the stadium, which revealed digital 'comets' that approached the stadium from nine directions representing the radial lines emanating from the calabash to the other nine participating stadiums.
  • Pyrotechnic 'comets' flew high over the heads of the audience in the stadium converging over the centre of the field activating video imagery that filled the performance space from the centre outwards.
  • A star field materialised as the audience traveled through space finally to arrive at an earth gone 'football crazy'.
  • A zoom in focused on the African continent and the six African countries that competed in the tournament were briefly highlighted as the zoom settled closer on South Africa.
  • The locations of all ten tournament stadiums were highlighted by ground-based pyrotechnics

2. Theme: the Fans of the world - a tribute to the fans of the world that came to South Africa and contributed to make the tournament a huge success.
  • From the south-east staircase a group of 120 performing fans began to sing 'Sizodlala - La' - a typical soccer supporter chant.
  • This was rapidly picked up by another group of fans set on the south-west staircase.
  • The chant was then picked up by Stoan set in the centre of the field. Stoan (real name Serai Seate) is a South African kwaito singer, music producer, actor and television presenter best known for his part in the highly successful kwaito band, Bongo Maffin, since 1996. Stoan derives his name from his rap days when he was known as "Stoan Kold-T".
  • 32 groups of fans - each representing a national team that competed in the World Cup poured onto the field from all directions, to converge on the field and merged to become one international group. The group formed the shape of a vuvuzela. The vuvuzela was "blown" and projected graphic notes and ribbons emanated from the trumpet.
  • The sound of the blast segued into the beat of 'Waka Waka' as a voice-over announced Shakira & Freshlyground, singing the official FIFA World Cup song.
  • The fans converged on the stage from where Shakira and Freshlyground performed and formed semi-circular rows in front of the stage.
  • From front to back, row-by-row the fans broke into a diski dance. The fans then broke formation and moved to the centre of the field. As the song concluded the fans reconfigure to spell out the words "For Africa".

3. Theme: the group matches - a brief visual summary of the group matches action.
  • Onto the darkened field dropped a huge scale (projected) newspaper called 'The Jozi Times'. A small group of fans ran to the centre of the paper and ripped it into five different directions, peeling back the pieces to reveal highlights of footage of the group matches.
  • A voice-over explained: "At last the tournament began and the 49 tense group matches produced tears of both anguish and joy."
  • When the group matches video summary had concluded the projected newspaper was 'blown' away.

4. Theme: The world united - a tribute to all the teams that came to South Africa to compete.
  • Once again, Stoan was revealed set dead centre of the space. Like a conductor, he whistled and called out as if summoning onto the field six trumpet players who appeared at different points on the field. They played a simple refrain of a familiar song. Each musician was joined by 19 others to form small musical bands. In a staggered formation the bands travelled across the space in seemingly random directions. As they did so, they gradually revealed the projected flags of all the national teams that competed in the tournament.
  • A voice-over announced: "And now, singing 'Everywhere You Go' - please welcome Africa United".
  • Africa United comprised of: Jozi (South Africa), Zulu Boy (South Africa), Silkour (South Africa), Kwesta (South Africa), 2 Face (Nigeria), Chameleone (Uganda), Awadi (Senegal), Krotai (Cameroon), Samini (Ghana), 'Everywhere You Go' (All Star African Mix) performed from the stage.
  • At the climax of the song the projected patchwork quilt of flags morphed into a map of the African continent.

5. Theme: A brief visual summary of the 'Round of Sixteen' and 'Quarter Finals' action.
  • Audiences again focused on the map of South Africa from which eight lozenge-shaped screens appeared.
  • A voice-over announced: "The round of sixteen and quarter-finals of the tournament were full of drama, surprise, and some truly thrilling football!"
  • As the screens gently floated over the surface of the field they carried video footage conveying moments from the Round of 16 and the Quarter Finals.
  • The fans came to frame the projection area and at the conclusion of the video sequence the football imagery froze.

6. Theme: Celebrating the spirit of South Africa - part one.
  • An African storm crashed onto the field as (projected) rain fell heavily and splashed on the ground.
  • The fans opened umbrellas and dashed for cover as the ground began to flood. As the storm abated a water-hole was revealed, as it would appear in the African bush.
  • A voice-over announced: "Ladies and gentlemen...Ladysmith Black Mambazo!"
  • As Ladysmith Black Mambazo sang 'Rain Rain Beautiful Rain", a herd of elephants entered the stadium to drink from the waterhole.
  • As the song concluded a giant soccer ball emerged from the depths growing larger and larger as it rose until it erupted from the water.

7. Theme: A brief visual summary of the semi finals action.
  • The pool transformed into a screen and the football was kicked.
  • A voice-over announced: "Eventually, of the original 32 competing teams, only four remained... "
  • Video footage began to tell the story of the semi-finals.
  • The elephant herd gently patrolled the field as the story of the semi-finals unfolded.

8. Theme: Celebrating the spirit of South Africa - part two: A medley of South African dance.
  • A single elephant began to suck up all the water in the water-hole until only sand remained.
  • A larger than life (projected) marimba emerged through the sand and a dancer stepped onto one of the marimba bars and when it sounded he jumped off.
  • Tentatively a dancer jumped on some of the other bars, making music as he did so. He was joined by other dancers to 'play' the marimba.
  • Other percussion instruments - shakers, and African drum and a drum kit - also appear through the sand.
  • A voice announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mafikizolo and Abigail Kubeka".
  • The troupe of dancers increased in numbers as they performed a Sophiatown sequence. This choreographic sequence segued into a short gumboot dance, and again into a choreographic sequence that featured Bujwa, Pantsula and House.
  • Finally the cast assembled on stage to sing the finale:

    'We hold out our hands to the nations
    We say "siyabonga"..."thank you".
    We've shared in this great celebration
    Africa's heart in Africa's time'

    9. Theme: The finalists
    • In the darkness a voice-over acknowledged the moment and announced the forthcoming final match of the competition: "Ladies and gentlemen...this is the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. At last the moment of truth has arrived. After 31 days and 63 games, just two teams remain Netherlands and Spain!"
    • As the names of the two finalists were announced the cast on the field activated individual light boxes to create the flags of the two competing countries.
    • A projected image of the stylised planet earth which started the ceremony returned to complete the scene that transformed into a golden globe which then animated to reveal itself set in the crown of the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
    • The lights lifted and the fan casts were revealed waving as the 'flags' dispersed.
    • A voice over closed the ceremony:

      "Ladies and gentlemen, the Closing Ceremony has come to an end.
      "On behalf of the President we thank the people of South Africa for hosting the world with so much generosity of spirit and for turning a dream into a wonderful reality.
      "And from each and every South African, to all our new friends close to home and across the world, for your enthusiasm, support and passion for this beautiful game, we thank you!

    • The cast exited as the words "Thank you" in different languages were animated across the field.
  • 11 Jul 2010 11:33