The three days we’ve had so far has been pretty soft, but this has been intentional since my delegation needed to adjust to the time zone and pushing through those eight hours of jetlag they’ve been carrying around since they arrived. All focus has been on making this day – the day of Australia’s first rehearsal onstage – a brilliant start for Dami and everyone else involved in her act, and it really was.
The day started with a lunch and update with my Delegation Host colleague Mia, who was finally back from that awful cold she caught in the beginning of this week. From there we went to the hotel for a short meeting with the Assistant Head of Delegation, Katherine, before our trip to the arena.
All week we’ve been told our absolute main responsibility during these two weeks is to make sure everybody’s on time for all their rehearsals. Mia and I quickly found out this will not be a problem for us since our delegation turned out to be amazingly good at following the instructions given to them by Katherine. Our bus was supposed to arrive at the hotel at 3pm and was said to be departing quarter past, and when the clock struck 3 on the dot the whole group was gathered in the hotel lobby with their accreditation badges around their necks and with everything packed and in order – just one problem, there was no bus to pick us up! Fortunately, it turned out it was stuck in some traffic not far away and once it arrived to the hotel the delegation bordered quickly and we were off on time and turned up at the arena with loads of time to spare until the next part of today’s schedule.
Getting from one end of this big venue to another can be quite a walk so thank goddess someone clever thought of arranging for a whole army of volunteers to drive around the delegation members in golf cars to get from A to B. (Our Aussies loved them!) Our first stop was the Dressing Room Area, aka the Delegation Bubble, where we were introduced to our SVT host and shown to our designated dressing room for the day, no 14. After some interviewing and dress changing we were led down to the backstage area for a visit to the guys in the soundcheck room. In here the performing artists (in our case, Dami and the two backup singers) are given in-ear monitors and get time to try them out and adjust the background sound for everyone individually to feel comfortable and prepared before entering the stage.
After this we got some waiting time while the Lithuanian artist Donny Montell rehearsed onstage before it was time for our time slot. Whilst waiting quite a few people showed up to greet our Heads of Delegation, Paul and Steph, whom both seem to be real family friendly with big parts of the SVT crew. The same went for our backup singers of course since they’re both quite experienced in this contest and well known by every Swede who’ve worked with either Eurovision or Melodifestivalen before.
Soon Dami was welcomed up onstage, and the rest of us we’re shown into the arena and to some comfy sofas from where we were welcome to watch the stage performance as well as a big screen showing the suggested footage for the broadcast. A lot of time was spent on checking and rehearsing the technical changes of the act, including a lift from a big box she will sit on in the first half of the song etc. The song itself was rehearsed three times with small changes of timing, camera angles and lighting color adjustments (at one point her legs looked blue which obviously needed to be fixed) but basically everything went great.
The whole rehearsal needs to be done in full costume and correct shoes for the crew to be able to get everything right, and the dress – or we should probably call it a gown – Dami will be wearing is absolutely breathtaking! It’s made by an Australian couture designer and is futuristic (as Dami’s outfits almost always are) in both shape and fabric, with loads of sparkling diamonds to bedazzle the audience.
After the rehearsal the delegation were taken to the viewing room where the Artist, Heads of Delegation, Production Designer, Stylist etc get some time with the editors to look over the footage, make some additional changes and choose which parts to reveal in the preview films online. With this over with time had come for Dami to change back from her gown and getting interviewed by the guys from Eurovision.tv who’s in charge of all the online coverage of the contest on the official YouTube channel.
Soon time had come for us to go back downstairs and catch a golf car ride to the Press Centre for the first official press conference, called Meet & Greet. Even though our team was the last act for the day and the clock was reaching dinnertime loads of journalists were there to greet Dami onstage taking her picture and asking her loads of questions; stretching from her lessons learned from her musical education and her participation in X Factor Australia to her new Carpenters covers CD. Long before the gathered journalists were satisfied, it almost felt like they might never be, the golf cars took us back to the bus who was waiting outside to drive us to the hotel.
Once back at the hotel we were invited to join the delegation for a spontaneous dinner in a restaurant close by. We had a really lovely time and a lot of laughs – you could practically notice everyone’s nervousness vaporize for the evening after all the anticipation and worrying they’ve been carrying around so long waiting for this day. The night didn’t last long though since everyone but me and Mia have an early morning planned filled with one-on-one interviews and stuff.
Apparently a lot of people loved Dami’s performance today, e.g. the panel of wiwibloggs.com whose coverage let show that they wouldn’t be too surprised if Australia left Stockholm with the big crystal microphone this year. (Yay!)
Tomorrow the crew in the arena will be rehearsing the acts of the second half of the second semifinal welcoming the artists from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ukraine, Norway, Georgia, Albania and Belgium up on stage for the first time.