Friday, August 31, 2012

Nastia Liukin Cup Series enters its fourth season in 2013


Indianapolis, Indiana – The 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup Series, which includes 19 events in 13 states, will run from Jan. 11 to Feb. 17, 2013. As in the past, gymnasts from the invitational meets in the Series will compete in the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup on March 1, 2013, at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., the site of the inaugural Cup in 2009. The Nastia Liukin Cup is held the night before the 2013 American Cup, one of the world's most prestigious international invitationals and an International Gymnastics Federation's World Cup event.

"The Nastia Liukin Cup Series has become an important element in the national promotion of our sport," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "With Nastia's direct involvement, the series has achieved its goal of providing a great showcase and fun opportunity for our up-and-coming gymnasts."

"I'm thrilled that the 2013 Cup will be in Worcester," said Liukin, the 2008 Olympic all-around champion who has five Olympic and nine World medals to her credit. "The Cup and my Foundation are both set up to provide a unique experience for young gymnasts with big dreams. I look forward to mentoring these girls on their future goals in gymnastics."

The Nastia Liukin Cup Series features many of the country's top gymnastics invitational meets held throughout the United States from January through mid-February 2013. Twenty junior and 15 senior gymnasts from each of the Series events will advance to the Nastia Liukin Cup, which is held in conjunction with the American Cup.

The invitational meets included in the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup Series are:

Circle of Stars Gymnastics Invitational, Indianapolis, Ind., Jan. 11-13
The Atlanta Crown Invitational, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 11-13
Pikes Peak Cup, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 18-20
CGA Coaches Spectacular, Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan. 18-20
Kim Zmeskal's Texas Prime Meet, Irving, Texas, Jan. 18-20
Lady Luck Invitational, Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 18-20
Sand Dollar/Whitlow Invitational, Kissimmee, Fla., Jan. 25-27
Wisconsin Dells Gymnastics Vacation Classic, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Jan. 25-27
Parkettes Invitational, Allentown, Pa., Jan. 25-27
San Diego Classic, San Diego, Calif., Jan. 25-27
Fiesta Bowl Invitational, Chandler, Ariz., Feb. 8-10
Charity Choice Invitational, Tacoma, Wash., Feb. 8-10
IGI Chicago Style, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 8-10
Gliders Invitational, Ontario, Calif., Feb. 8-9
The Magical Classic, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 15-16
Buckeye Classic, Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 15-17
Presidential Classic, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Feb. 15-17
WOGA Classic, Frisco, Texas, Feb. 15-17
Arizona Sunrays Classic Rock Invitational, Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 15-17

Gymnasts who compete in the Nastia Liukin Cup will receive a Nastia Liukin-designed leotard and a warm-up from GK Elite; two tickets to the American Cup and recognition during the event; and the opportunity to meet Liukin and participate in a team photo.

A portion of the proceeds from the Nastia Liukin Cup benefits the Nastia Liukin Fund, a charitable fund in partnership with the National Gymnastics Foundation (www.usagym.org/foundation).

Background information

Nastia Liukin. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Liukin's total of five medals tied the U.S. gymnastics record for most medals in one Olympic Games, held by Mary Lou Retton (1984) and Shannon Miller (1992). Liukin's Olympic medals are: gold – all-around; silver – team, balance beam and uneven bars; and bronze – floor exercise. Liukin is just the third U.S. woman to win the Olympic all-around crown. She also won nine World medals in her career. Liukin has graced many magazine covers and appeared on various shows, including "Gossip Girl," "Make It or Break it," and the feature film, "Stick It." She was also chosen as one of 2009's most influential women by MSN Lifestyle. Liukin recently returned to training with an eye on the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Coached by her father, Valeri, who has four Olympic medals from 1988 including two gold, she was added to the 2011-12 Women's National Team in November 2011.

American Cup. The 2013 American Cup, an FIG World Cup event, is one of the most prestigious international invitational events and features an all-around format. The list of former champions comprises some of the sport's best-known names, including Jordyn Wieber, Nastia Liukin, Jonathan Horton, Bart Conner, Paul Hamm, Shawn Johnson, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson, Mary Lou Retton and Peter Vidmar. For more information, go to www.usagym.org/americancup.

DAN BURKE AND ADRIAN GONZALEZ INDUCTED INTO THE PORTLAND SEA DOGS HALL OF FAME

Portland, Maine - The Portland Sea Dogs in conjunction with Unum have announced that Sea Dogs' founder and longtime Chairman Dan Burke and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez are the 2012 inductees into the Unum Portland Sea Dogs Hall of Fame.  The announcement was made prior to Friday's Sea Dogs game against the Reading Phillies.

Dan Burke was the man responsible for bringing professional baseball back to Portland.  In the spring of 1992, Burke, then the CEO of Capital Cities, ABC, Inc. applied for one of two expansion franchises available at the Class AA level of Minor League Baseball.  One of thirteen applicants for the two franchises, Burke worked diligently to make his dream a reality. In October, 1992 Portland and New Haven were selected to join the Eastern League as new entries for the 1994 season. In 2003, Burke was instrumental in bringing the Boston Red Sox to Portland as the Sea Dogs' new affiliate replacing the Florida Marlins. In 2006, the Sea Dogs captured their first Eastern League Championship. Thanks to Burke's efforts more than seven million fans have enjoyed Sea Dogs' baseball at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs' founder and longtime chairman passed away at the age of 82 on October 26, 2011.  Burke's wife "Bunny" accepted the Hall of Fame plaque in Dan's honor.
Adrian Gonzalez was unable to attend the induction ceremony due to his duties with the Los Angeles Dodgers but said that, "It is a great honor... I had a wonderful time the year I was in Portland, it was a great experience, and I am very honored to be put into the Hall of Fame."

Gonzalez was drafted by the Florida Marlins as the first overall pick in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft.  Gonzalez advanced to Double-A Portland where he started the 2002 season at the age of 19.  He appeared in 138 games for the Sea Dogs hitting .266 with 17 home runs and 96 RBI.  He ranked second in the Eastern League in games (138), and RBI (96), while leading the team in games (138), at-bats (508), hits (135), doubles (34), home runs (17), RBI (96), and slugging percentage (.437).  He was named to the SportsTicker All-Teen Team.

Gonzalez stated, "Portland is a great place to hit, great place to be; the whole city is amazing.  I really enjoyed the food."

On July 11, 2003 the Marlins traded Gonzalez along with outfielder Will Smith and former Sea Dog left-handed pitcher Ryan Snare to the Texas Rangers in exchange for right-handed reliever Ugueth Urbina.  Gonzalez would make his Major League debut with the Rangers in 2004.  The Rangers dealt Gonzalez to the San Diego Padres on January 4, 2006, where Gonzalez's career would take off.  He was acquired by the Red Sox on December 6, 2010 when Boston sent Sea Dogs players Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo along with Reymond Fuentes to the Padres.

In his first year with the Red Sox in 2011, he hit .338 with 27 home runs and 117 RBI.  He collected a team high 213 hits, matching the fourth most in Red Sox history.  He earned a trip to the All-Star Game, a Gold Glove Award, and a Silver Slugger award for his efforts.

Gonzalez was traded along with Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto on August 25th to the Dodgers in a nine player deal.

In his career, Gonzalez is a four time Major League All-Star (2008-2011) and a three time Gold Glove Award winner (2008, 2009, & 2011).  Entering the 2012 season, he had a career Major League average of .296 in six years of service.

The Portland Sea Dogs Hall of Fame was established in 2005.  Burke and Gonzalez join Josh Beckett, John Boles, Bob Ganley, Fredi Gonzalez, Livan Hernandez, Charles Johnson, Mark Kotsay, Kevin Millar, Mike Redmond, Edgar Renteria, Bill Troubh, and Carlos Tosca as members of the Unum Portland Sea Dogs Hall of Fame.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, players must have debuted with the Sea Dogs at least ten years ago and had success in Portland and beyond.   Each inductee is presented a plaque for their accomplishment.  In addition, plaques of the Hall of Fame members are displayed in the Hadlock Field concourse.  Fans can also visit the Sea Dogs Hall of Fame section online at www.seadogs.com.

The Portland Sea Dogs continue their final homestand of the season Saturday night at 6:00 PM against the Reading Phillies at Hadlock Field.  The Sea Dogs' 2012 campaign concludes on Monday, September 3rd at 1:00 PM.  Tickets are available for all remaining games.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the Sea Dogs Ticket Office at 207-879-9500 or order online at www.seadogs.com.

Statement on women’s combined class discus event F35/36 result

London, England - In today’s women’s combined class discus event (F35/36) incorrect medals were awarded following the use of inaccurate results data.  We sincerely apologize to the athletes affected.  The inaccurate data also affected the Men’s Shot Put F42/44 although the final medal placing was not impacted.  Omega is currently uploading the correct data and the final results for the Women’s discus F35/36 event will be amended and restated.  A new medal ceremony will be held during tomorrow morning’s Athletics session.

All combined class field events use the Raza System -  a points scoring system where final positions are determined by points rather than distance.  It uses a statistical model based on population of each class, level of impairment and performance.  Each year an analysis of results is taken and the Raza System is updated accordingly.

The correct results table for  women’s combined class discus event (F35/36) is:

Rank
Name
NPC
1
WU Qing
CHN
2
POMAZAN Mariia
UKR
3
PROUDFOOT Katherine
AUS
4
BAO Jiongyu
CHN
5
CHILEWSKA Renata
POL
6
van ZYL Chenelle
RSA
7
OLIVEIRA Marivana
BRA
8
MALCHYK Alla
UKR
9
HERNANDEZ FLORIAN Martha Liliana
COL
10
MUNOZ Perla Amanda
ARG


This replaces the previous inaccurate results table:

Rank
Name
NPC
1
POMAZAN Mariia
UKR
2
WU Qing
CHN
3
BAO Jiongyu
CHN
4
CHILEWSKA Renata
POL
5
PROUDFOOT Katherine
AUS
6
van ZYL Chenelle
RSA
7
OLIVEIRA Marivana
BRA
8
HERNANDEZ FLORIAN Martha Liliana
COL
9
MALCHYK Alla
UKR
10
MUNOZ Perla Amanda
ARG

Sea Dogs Drop Series to New Hampshire


Bogaerts goes 3-for-4, 2B

Manchester, N.H -   New Hampshire (61-77) was strong again on offense scattering six runs against lefty Drake Britton and reliever Chris Martin in its 6-1 victory over Portland at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The Sea Dogs  (66-71) threatened in the 9th inning loading the bases with two outs off of Trystan Magnusan but failed to push across a run dropping the final road series of the year three games to one.

Xander Bogaerts was stellar going 3-for-4, including a double, at the plate while driving in a run. Bogaerts, beginning the year as the second ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America, has hit safely in 15 of 19 games with Portland and Thursday night was his eighth multi-hit game in a Sea Dog uniform.

Britton (4-7) turned in a solid performance despite allowing four runs, three of which were earned. The southpaw went six innings into the ballgame enduring a tough third inning before settling down. New Hampshire plated three against Britton in that frame but he would go on the sit down 11 consecutive Fisher Cats stretching from one out in the second through the 5th. Portland's starter fired seven strikeouts coupled with one walk. He allowed four hits in the loss.

New Hampshire broke through with three runs in its half in the second inning. After Jon Tolisano reached base as a result of a fielding error, Brian Van Kirk singled to left field. Gabe Jacobo cashed in on the opportunity by homering into left clearing the bases.

The Sea Dogs cracked the scoreboard in the 4th inning cutting the New Hampshire advantage to 3-1. Marquez Smith led-off with a free pass to first base and moved to third base on Travis Shaw's 13th double of the season. The following batter, Xander Bogaerts, picked up a RBI on a groundout to shortstop.

The Fisher Cats added an insurance run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings pulling away from Portland. Ryan Goins drew a lead-off walk ending a stretch of 11 consecutive batters set down by Britton. Two outs later Brad Glenn singled Goins home, after Goins advanced to second on a sacrifice fly, extending the club's lead to 4-1.

An inning later, after two quick outs, Joel Gallaraga doubled into to right field against Sea Dog reliever Chris Martin who replaced Britton. Jake Marisnick picked him up with a RBI single putting the Cats up 5-1 over Portland. Martin allowed one more in the 8th on back-to-back two out doubles by Ryan Schimpf and Glenn (27). Glenn picked up the RBI.

Though allowing two runs, Chris picked up a strikeout in his outing and has fanned an opponent in all 22 of his appearances.
New Hampshire starting pitcher Sean Nolin earned his first win for the Cats.  The lefty tossed six innings giving up one run on two hits while striking out seven.

The Sea Dogs return home to Hadlock Field to begin the final series of the 2012 campaign Friday, August 31 at 7:00 PM against the second place Reading Phillies. Righty Jeremy Kehrt (7-3, 4.13), who has the most wins by Sea Dogs' pitchers, is slated to take the ball for Portland and will be opposed by Reading's Brody Colvin (1-3, 9.51). To listen to all of the game action tune into 95.5/95.9 FM WPEI. Tickets are available by calling 207-879-9500 or at www.seadogs.com.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

“Late Start” semester at KVCC increases options for students

Fairfield, Maine - Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) is always looking for new ways to meet the increasing demands of students for flexibility in education, and so this fall for the first time the College is offering a special 10-week session of “core” academic courses beginning Sept. 24 and running until Dec. 1.

Approximately a dozen entry-level courses commonly required by a wide range of college programs are being offered in this compressed schedule to new students and returning KVCC students not already registered for the regular Fall 2012 semester.

These general education courses can be applied not only toward KVCC degree programs, but transferred to other colleges and universities in Maine, and offer an ideal opportunity for students pursuing four-year degrees to earn credits toward those degrees while taking advantage of KVCC’s low tuition rate of $86 per credit hour.

“Many students today have jobs, families, and other responsibilities that limit their ability to pursue a college education,” said Jon Humphrey, Marketing Specialist for the College. “The regular fall semester may start too early or run too long for them. By providing a series of commonly required courses in a compact, convenient semester, KVCC hopes to give these students another option for beginning or continuing an education.”

The courses offered were chosen based on high demand – all were already full to capacity for the regular Fall 2012 semester. Many are being provided online to increase the convenience for students.

To register for a course or for more information call Kim at (207) 453-5134 or Jillienne at (207) 453-5119 or go to www.kvcc.me.edu.

Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven community colleges in Maine. KVCC prepares full-time and part-time students to enter the job market, to transfer to colleges and universities, and to achieve their professional and personal goals. Programs and services support the economic growth of the community in response to changing needs.

In 2011 and again in 2012, KVCC was named one of the top community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, placing in the top 10 percent of two-year colleges based on student success rates.

To learn more about KVCC, go to www.kvcc.me.edu/.

Three Superstars in Berlin to be broadcast at Lincoln Theater

Damariscotta, Maine - On Thursday September 13 at 2 pm and 7 pm, Lincoln Theater in downtown Damariscotta will present and HD encore broadcast, captured live, with three of the biggest names in opera coming together for a once in a lifetime performance. Opera superstar Anna Netrebko returns to Berlin's stunning Waldbuhne, one of the world's most impressive open stages. Against this amazing backdrop, she is joined by her husband, baritone Erwin Schrott and star tenor Jonas Kaufman in a program that includes famous duets from Bernstein's West Side Story, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Puccini's Manon Lescaut, as well as popular Tango duets and arias from Mozart (Leporello's aria from Don Giovanni) and excerpts from Gounod's Faust. Accompanying the singers, Marco Armiliato conducts the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.  Tickets are just $15 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and under.  Don’t miss this once in a lifetime performance.  Additional information can be found on the theater’s website at www.atthelincoln.org or by calling the box office at 563.3424.

Thomaston Intergenerational Book Club will discuss It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott

Thomaston, Maine - On September 18th the Thomaston Intergenerational Book Club will discuss It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott.

In 2000, Rye Barcott spent part of the summer living in ten-by-ten-foot shacks in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He was a twenty-year-old college student heading into the Marines, and he sought to better understand ethnic violence—something he would likely face in uniform. Barcott learned Swahili and listened to young people talk about how they survived amidst poverty he had never imagined existed. He stumbled into friendship with a widowed nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a tough community organizer, Salim Mohamed.

It Happened on the Way to War is the gripping story of this unlikely trio’s journey to build a nongovernmental organization in a volatile place and help develop a new generation of leaders from within. Their organization, Carolina for Kibera (CFK), is now a pioneer of the movement called participatory development, drawing recognition fromTime magazine as a “Hero of Global Health” and interest from Melinda Gates, President Barack Obama, and other dignitaries, who have visited to see its best practices. Barcott continued his leadership in CFK while serving as a Marine in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. Engaged in two forms of public service at once, he fought in wars while waging peace. Grappling with the intense stress of leading Marines in dangerous places, he took the tools he learned building community in one of the most fractured parts of Kenya and became a more effective counterinsurgent. This is a true story of sacrifice and courage, failure and triumph, and the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service. It’s a story of what America’s role in the world could be.

On the third Tuesday of each month, this group of men and women of all ages come together to share their opinions and ideas about the book selection. Extra copies of the books are purchased by the Friends of the Thomaston Public Library from the Annual Appeal funds. We thank you for all donations.  Please come and join us at the Thomaston Library on September 18th at 2:30  p.m. in The Thomaston Academy building gym, accessible by elevator.

London 2012 Paralympic Games competition schedule updated

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has updated the competition schedule for the Paralympic Games.

The full, up to date competition can be found here: http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/schedule-and-results/

The competition schedule has been modified following final confirmation of entries for a number of sports. This means it is necessary to make changes to the Paralympic competition schedule.

Spectators with tickets for Athletics, Boccia, Wheelchair Fencing, Archery and Equestrian should check the London 2012 website for more information on any changes: http://www.london2012.com/scheduleupdates. Emails will be sent to ticketholders if there are significant changes.

The competition schedule will be with regularly updates as the Games proceed. Always check the London 2012

TWO SINGER-SONGWRITERS KICK OFF LITHGOW’S SATURDAY MUSIC SERIES

Augusta, Maine - Singer-songwriters Nancy Sferra and Heather Hardy will kick off a new fall music series at Lithgow Public Library, “Live & Local at the Library,” to be held on Saturday mornings in September, October and November.  Sferra and Hardy’s concert will be held September 15 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Reading Room.
   
The fall concerts are free and open to the public.
 
 "After the great turnouts for our summer lawn concert series, we’re happy to offer a fall music series featuring some amazingly talented singers and musicians from central Maine,” said adult services aide Lori Clark.  “We hope folks will stop by Lithgow on Saturday mornings and enjoy a relaxing morning of music.”

Sferra lives and works in mid-coast Maine.  She has been writing songs for over a decade, accompanying herself on guitar.  Her songs are observations of human nature – sometimes funny and sometimes serious – but always focusing on the story.  She is currently working on her first CD.
   
Hardy writes and performs songs about the things that matter most to her:  nature, society, family and love.  She blends her unique voice with rich melodies, sometimes including mouth trumpet instrumentals along with guitar.  Hardy lives in mid-coast Maine and is co-organizer of the Round Top Coffee House open mic in Damariscotta.
   
Featured in the “Live & Local at the Library” series are:
Saturday, September 15 – Nancy Sferra and Heather Hardy.
Saturday, October 20 – Anything Goes (guitar duo) and Tom Ward (Hallowell singer-songwriter).
Saturday, November 17 – Giff Jamison (folk, blues and jazz) and Tim Rice (singer-songwriter encompassing a range of genres).
         
Lithgow Library is located at 45 Winthrop Street in Augusta.  For more information, call the library at 626-2415 or visit the website at www.lithgow.lib.me.us.

Portland Offense Shutout in Loss to New Hampshire


Will Latimer Fires Four Scoreless from the Pen

Manchester, N.H -  New Hampshire (60-77) starting pitcher Yohan Pino had a career night in route to defeating the Sea Dogs (66-70) 7-0 from Northeast Delta Dental Stadium Wednesday night. Pino (10-7) earned the win striking-out 10 hitters tying his career best and only allowed two hits in his seven nearly flawless innings of work.  The Fisher Cat offense put up a five run second in support of Pino putting the game out of reach of the 'Dogs. Marquez Smith and Ronald Bermudez tallied the only hits Portland could scratch against Pino.

On an evening where Portland had little working on the diamond, Will Latimer was a bright spot from the mound. Latimer came into the game for the lifted Brandon Workman in the third inning with nobody out. Latimer shut down New Hampshire over his next four innings of work. He didn't yield a run and allowed just one hit with striking out a total of five batters. The southpaw is scoreless in five of his last seven outings giving up three runs over 18 innings.

Jackie Bradley Jr. was back in the lineup for the first time since August 20th. Bradley went 0-for-1 on the night but was on base three times with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

New Hampshire pounded Portland starter Workman (3-1) early and often. The Fisher Cats came up with a five run second inning and tacked on one more in the third to take a 6-0 lead and chase Workman from the game. Workman lasted two plus innings giving up six runs on eight hits. He did, however, strike out two batters to go along with hurling two free passes.

The first four New Hampshire hitters in the second reached base via a hit putting strain on Workman. John Tolisano and Brian Van Kirk led-off with back-to-back singles but, Tolisano was thrown out attempting to steal second by Matt Spring. Three double in the frame by Gabe Jacobo (8), Ryan Goins (31) and Mark Sobolewski (16) had the Sea Dogs righty on the ropes early. Goins and Sobolewksi's extra baggers both drove in a run. Koby Clemens added a two RBI single and Ryan Schimpf drove in a run on his base knock.

The Cats added another run in the third powered by Tolisano's lead-off double. He advanced to third on a passed ball on Matt Spring and scored as a result of a Derrik Gibson error off of the bat of Van Kirk making the score 6-0.

New Hampshire struck once more in the 7th inning when Schimpf hammered reliever Ryan Pressly's second pitch of the at bat in centerfield extending the Fisher Cat lead to 7-0.

Prime Motor Group Player of the Game- Will Latimer, 4 IP, 0 R, 5 K's, 1 H

Portland looks to even up the four game series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Thursday, August 30th (today) with a victory in the series finale. The Sea Dogs will pit southpaw Drake Britton (4-6, 3.66) against the Fisher Cats' lefty Sean Nolin (0-0, 1.00) in effort to avoid losing the series. To listen to all of the game action tun into 95.5/95.9 FM WPEI. Tickets are available by calling 207-879-9500 or at www.seadogs.com.

Unlimited season at London’s Southbank Centre will showcase London 2012 Festival commissions for leading disabled and deaf artists


Following last night’s spectacular Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the London 2012 Festival is today beginning an eleven day showcase of its ground-breaking commissions by disabled and deaf artists that will run throughout the Paralympics. The wide-ranging season at London’s Southbank Centre builds on the key themes of the ceremony, of challenging perceptions and celebrating the empowering possibilities of ideas, science and creativity, through which everyone can realise their full potential.

The 29 works featured cover dance, visual arts, music, comedy, circus and theatre. They were each commissioned for the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad Unlimited programme – the largest ever celebration of disabled and deaf artists that has been running since 2009 and highlights their work on an unprecedented scale across the UK. Unlimited has encouraged collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and to create original and exciting works.

The 200 artists taking part in the Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre (30 August – 9 September)  include The Graeae Theatre Company, the UK’s leading theatre company led by disabled performers whose Artistic Director Jenny Sealey was co-Artistic Director of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Graeae’s celebratory protest performance of Ian Dury’s ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ and accompanying energised mass choreography was one of the memorable highlights of the evening. At Southbank Centre they will join with the Melbourne-based performing arts company Strange Fruit to present The Garden, a spectacular aerial, outdoor performance.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad, said: “The Unlimited programme is unprecedented, offering more commissioning for disabled and deaf artists than any Cultural Olympiad or festival to date. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with world-class artists who have created brilliant work that will inspire and change perceptions when we welcome the world to London during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I hope this will be one of our most important legacies for future Games and for disabled and deaf artists both in the UK and internationally.”

Jenny Sealey,  Co-Artistic Director of the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company,, said: "Having being an artistic advisor for the Unlimited programme since 2009, I am thrilled that it forms such a large part of the London 2012 Festival. For me, it has been wonderful to be part of this globally recognised platform for deaf and disabled performers. Unlimited provides the opportunity for artists to profile their skills, innovation and pioneer creative accessibility with a commitment to create work which is excellent but also informs and challenges. This is something I am passionate about and I embrace our uniqueness. Unlimited inspires a new generation of deaf and disabled artists, transforms perceptions, and provides a stunning finale to the Cultural Olympiad".

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “The Paralympic Games changed sport forever in terms of people’s understanding of the talent of disabled people. Unlimited provides the same platform for deaf and disabled artists to show the extraordinary talent, range and perseverance necessary to make great work. This is a milestone event for culture not just in the UK but across the world.”

The London 2012 Festival is the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.

Unlimited is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, and is delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

Highlights from the Unlimited programme include:

THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE

·         Creating the Spectacle by artist Sue Austin is a ground-breaking and original piece of work in which the artist ‘dances’ underwater in a specially adapted, self-propelled wheelchair, allowing her the freedom and joy to move gracefully and un-hindered. This is a unique and challenging experience where the audience can choose to view the performance underwater in a swimming pool, equipped with masks and breathing equipment. (Osprey Leisure Centre, Portland, 29 August & 1 September 2012).  A film documenting the performances will also be shown. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September; ICCI 360 Dome, Weymouth, 1 – 9 September)

·         Claire Cunningham: Ménage à Trois explores award-winning performer Claire Cunningham's 20-year relationship with her crutches, in a study of love, obsession, loneliness and manipulation. The stunning piece of dance theatre is a collaboration with choreographer and video artist Gail Sneddon, set within an extraordinary, animated environment, enveloping the performers in a surreal, imaginary world. (The MAC, Belfast, 31 August 2012; Southbank Centre, London, 8 September 2012)

·         Mad Gyms & Kitchens by Bobby Baker is a show developed out of her battle with illness and her subsequent recovery. The gently humorous production deals with the trials and tribulations of trying to get better, with the help of a fantastical ‘recovery’ apparatus, designed in collaboration with the sculptor Charlie Whittuck (Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 2 September 2012 and 4, 7, 9 September 2012). Bobby Baker’s Diary Drawings – Mental Illness and Me exhibition is also on show. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

·         The National Theatre Wales production of In Water I’m Weightless by writer Kaite O’Reilly, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry 2010, presents six of the top deaf and disabled performers in the UK, including David Toole and Mat Fraser. They use physicality and dance to recount vivid stories based on interviews the writer carried out with disabled people across the UK (Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 1 September 2012)

·         CAUTION brings together six artists from around the world to work on a series of solo and collaborative performances, video works, still images and installations that allow the artists to explore their limits, break through boundaries and work with the extremes of their abilities to communicate and make things happen. Led by Belfast-based artist and curator Sinéad O’Donnell, CAUTION artists Sylvette Babin (Canada), Mariel Carranza (Peru), Paul Couillard (Canada) Poshya Kakl (Kurdistan-Iraq) and Shiro Masuyama (Japan) interrogate what it means to have an ‘invisible’ disability. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 1 – 2 September 2012). The artists are also showing a series of CAUTION video works at the Southbank Centre from 31 August to 9 September.

·         Marc Brew Company’s ‘Fusional Fragments’ is a blend of classical ballet and contemporary dance, featuring Grammy Award-winning percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie performing the score she composed for the work with Philip Sheppard. (Southbank Centre, London, 31 August 2012)

·         Bee Detective is presented by Tin Bath Theatre – a humorous and fast-paced children’s show that draws the audience into the inner sanctum of a bee hive to help solve a honey bee murder mystery. Bee Detective is an immersive adventure for deaf and hearing children, using cartoons, colourful captions, speaking and signing actors, ‘buzzing’ seats and ‘waggle’ dancing. (Southbank Centre, London, 31 August - 2 September 2012)

·         Box of Frogs by Stumble danceCircus is an exhilarating, high-energy performance showcasing a myriad of circus skills, directed by Mish Weaver. The show includes trick-cycling, tumbling, rope work and acrobalance using film and live music.  Under the banner ‘Bipolar Circus’, Box of Frogs is a jawdropping night of entertainment. (Southbank Centre, London, 2 – 3 September 2012)

Candoco Unlimited - Marc Brew and Claire Cunningham, two celebrated disabled choreographers, have each made a large dance piece for Candoco Dance Company’s international company of 12 disabled and non-disabled dancers. Guest dancers from Beijing and Rio de Janeiro join Candoco's own dancers, reflecting the inclusive values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, while linking previous, current and future Host Cities and celebrating the diversity of London as host in 2012. (Southbank Centre, London, 6 September 2012)

Skewered Snails, created by Ramesh Meyyapan with Iron-Oxide, is the story of a dysfunctional family and of a boy who flees to the treetops to escape the brutality of his father. Award-winning Billy Mack plays the abusive father, with Adura Onashile as the ineffectual mother and Sita Pieraccini as the sibling rival to Ramesh Meyyappan, who vows never to come down from the trees again. (Southbank Centre, London, 6 September 2012)

Laurence Clark: Inspired - The internationally acclaimed comedian, presents his new stand-up comedy show, which questions why ordinary, everyday activities are suddenly considered inspirational when it's a disabled person doing them (Unity Theatre, Liverpool, 31 August 2012; FREE, Southbank Centre, London 1 September 2012 (as part of Liberty Festival’s cabaret evening); Bloomsbury Theatre, London, 7 September 2012)

David Toole and Lucy Hind: The Impending Storm - acclaimed dancer David Toole, in collaboration with non-disabled and disabled UK and South African artists, pushes the boundaries of integrated dance in an explosive and emotional look at the stories we tell, and how we tell them. The performances will feature dance from South Africa’s Remix and music from Dom Coyote and Sandile Gontsana (Southbank Centre, London, 7 - 8 September 2012)

Private Dancer - Janice Parker’s award-winning performance piece, featuring a life-sized luminous house, 18 eclectic performers and unique choreography. This original event aims to offer each audience member a different and profoundly personal experience of the show. (Southbank Centre, London, 7 - 9 September 2012)

The Ugly Spirit – Fittings Multimedia Art’s new show, directed by Garry Robson is a mix of music, text and improvisation that fuses the extraordinary talents of avant-garde performance artist David Hoyle with the vocal skills of acclaimed soprano Denise Leigh. The audience is invited in small groups to wander and explore the undiscovered places that lurk behind the scenes in theatres and travelling shows before being taken to a private audience with the famous Siamese Twins, Jessie and Bessie (Southbank Centre, London, 2 - 3 September 2012).

OUTDOOR & CARNIVAL

Diverse City: Breathe is a documentary charting the unique collaboration with disabled and non-disabled performers from Dorset and Brazil, to create a spectacular outdoor circus, dance and theatrical event to open the 2012 Olympic Sailing events in Weymouth. Produced by Diverse City and created by leading disabled artists – Jamie Beddard, Alex Bulmer and Dave Toole. The film documents rehearsals in Dorset with The Remix and Double Act, and with APAE and Estacao Dancar from Florianopolis, Brazil as they not only prepare for the performance of a lifetime but plan to reshape the of disability arts in Britain (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

·         Lawnmowers Theatre: Boomba Down the Tyne brings together the spirit of the English Blaydon Races with the Brazilian Boi Bumba in a large-scale performance celebrating both cultures. Music and dance from Brazil will be woven into a free theatrical show performed by artists from the north east of Brazil and the north east of England. An extract of the show called Samba Ceilidh, a specially created Samba inspired by Brazilian and British dance moves, will be showcased in London in September. (Southbank Centre, London, 2 September 2012)

·         The Garden presented by Graeae & Strange Fruit is an aerial, outdoor performance where the artists, a group of nomadic story-keepers, climb four-metre sway poles to tell magical stories up in the air above the heads of the audience. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 6 – 9 September 2012)

MUSIC

·         The Dean Rodney Singers - an interactive audio-visual installation masterminded by Dean Rodney, a 22 year-old artist, rapper and musician. Rodney brings a fantasy world to life with the help of 72 band members, made up of musicians, singers and dancers from seven countries across the world.  The global band has created new music, dance and video using cutting-edge web technology, including 23 songs in collaboration with both disabled and non-disabled band members. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

Simon Allen: Resonance at the Still Point of Change - composer Simon Allen presents the premiere performance of his new work, comprising live music, multi-screen film imagery, speech, song and onscreen text. Allen’s colourful score combines instrumental melodies and electronic sounds with a libretto by Alasdair Middleton and images filmed by artists Joe King and Rosie Pedlow (Southbank Centre, London, 4 September 2012)

Irresistible - Call of the Sirens - driven by a life-long fascination with warning sirens, composer and musician Jez Colborne presents his new choral work. The piece combines alarm calls with other non-traditional instruments and singing voices to create a symphony of sirens. (FREE, National Theatre, London, 5-6 September 2012; FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 8 September 2012)

VISUAL ARTS

The English Flower Garden - Paul Cummins, renowned for his distinctive landscape installations, presents a series of individually hand-thrown ceramic flowers in celebration of the quintessentially British garden (FREE, Castle Howard, York, 1 June – 31 August 2012; 1 June – 17 September 2012; The Secret Gardens of Sandwhich, Sandwhich and Althorp Estate, Northampton, 11 May – 1 September 2012; Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

Maurice Orr - The Screaming Silence of the Wind comprises five multi-sensory installations of paintings inspired by the barren, raw landscapes of Northern Ireland and Iceland (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012).

·         Unlimited Global Alchemy led by artist Rachel Gadsden presents a medley of visual arts, live performance and film. The works explore the politics and myths surrounding coping with chronic disease, particularly HIV and AIDS, and the fight for survival. The exhibition was born out of Gadsden’s work with the Bambani artist-activist group in the Khayelitsha township on the outskirts of Cape Town in South Africa. (Special film screening, FREE, The Bluecoat, Liverpool, 30 August 2012; Exhibition, FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August - 9 September 2012). In addition to the film screening and exhibition, there will also be an evening of performance, co-directed by Gadsden and choreographer Athina Vahla (Southbank Centre, London, 5 September 2012).

DASH Arts: M21 - Documenting a live art project that took place in Much Wenlock, Shropshire in May 2012 M21 – The Medieval to the 21st Century documents how disabled artists explore what it means to be alive and working in the 21st century. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September, 2012)

Caroline Bowditch: Leaving Limbo Landing - a major multi-artform performance piece in air, in water and on land featuring the stories of 12 east Londoners, and brought to life by an all female cast of dancers and aerialists (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

FILM

MACROPOLIS is an animated film created by Joel Simon, which centres on two misshapen toy figurines who attempt to escape from their factory when they realise they are destined for the waste bin. The film is an unusual combination of stop motion, CGI and time-lapse photography, with real-life locations shot on the streets of Belfast. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

·         Simon McKeown: Motion Disabled Unlimited is a chance to watch and study the physicality and movement of the modern day disabled athlete, the Paralympian. Simon Mckeown uses 3D software to create a large inflatable sculpture of a disabled athlete, motion captured animations for presentation on public screens and art-led smartphone applications for presenting extra exhibition material (FREE, Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesborough, 20 July - 9 September 2012; Southbank Centre, London, 3 – 4 September 2012).

Chris Tally Evans’ Turning Points is a ten-minute film that celebrates life-changing moments when a meeting, an event, or something unexpected leads us in a new and better direction. Hollywood legend Sir Roger Moore, Olympian Jamie Baulch and visually impaired dancer Lyn Street, are among those to tell their tales. Also as part of the two-year project, over a hundred stories were collected online from people around the UK. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012; online at www.turningpoints2012.org)

Throw Them Up and Let Them Sing is a film by artist film-maker Helen Petts exploring the life and works of German artist Kurt Schwitters through landscape, collage, sound and walking. Petts charts the German artist’s journey from a remote island in Norway, where he escaped Nazi persecution over what they called his ‘degenerate’ art and his epilepsy. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)

The Unlimited programme is complemented by a range of other works and performances from disabled and deaf artists running alongside the Paralympic Games, including Niet Normaal, a stimulating exhibition of works by artists both disabled and non-disabled (The Bluecoat, Liverpool, 13 June – 2 September 2012) and Mark Rylance’s What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare sees 50 actors aged 17 to 70, who have been cast by Shakespeare's Globe and including deaf and disabled artists, perform brief, intimate interactions with the public on the streets of London (28 August – 2 September 2012). Also, Brazilian artist Arthur Bispo do Rosário presents an exhibition bringing together over 80 of his artworks as part of a programme of collaboration between Rio de Janeiro and London 2012 Festival. Admitted to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 29, Bispo do Rosario’s ‘outsider’ art has long been celebrated for its skill and imaginative approach to working with everyday, found materials. (FREE, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 13 August – 28 October 2012).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Upcoming TV and public appearances by U.S. gymnasts Sept. 3rd - Sept. 6th


The following list is subject to change. Scroll down for a photo gallery of the appearances.
Monday, Sept. 3
  • Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney & Kyla Ross throwing out first pitch at the L.A. Dodgers game
Tuesday, Sept. 4
Thursday, Sept. 6

PREVIOUS APPEARANCES
Sunday, Aug. 26
  • Gabby Douglas on Oprah's Next Chapter - Videos
Saturday, Aug. 25
  • Aly Raisman throwing out first pitch at Boston Red Sox game - Video
Friday, Aug. 24
  • Danell Leyva on The Today Show - Video
  • Aly Raisman at the premiere of "Bachelorette" - Video
  • Aly Raisman on episode of E!'s Fashion Police
Thursday, Aug. 23
  • Gabby Douglas throwing out first pitch at New York Mets game
    Watch: Clip 1 | Clip 2 | Clip 3
  • Aly Raisman interview with Young Hollywood - Video
Wednesday, Aug. 22
  • Jordyn Wieber throwing out first pitch at Detroit Tigers game - Video
Monday, Aug. 20
  • Aly Raisman introduced at New England Patriots game - Video
Sunday, Aug. 19
Thursday, Aug. 16
  • Women's team on Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien - Video
  • John Orozco on Rock Center with Brian Williams - Video
Wednesday, Aug. 15
  • Women's team on Good Morning America - Video
  • Women's team on Anderson Cooper 360
  • Gabby Douglas on America's Got Talent results show
  • Women's team on The Colbert Report - Video
Tuesday, Aug. 14
Monday, Aug. 13
  • Gabby Douglas on Tonight Show with Jay Leno
    Watch: Part 1 | Part 2
Plus, catch them at the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions this fall. Tickets are on sale now.



Professor Stephen Hawking calls for new age of enlightenment in rare public appearance at spectacular London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony


·        Stars of stage, screen and music welcome world’s athletes back to the home of the Paralympic Games
·        Her Majesty The Queen opens London 2012 Paralympics Games

London, England - In a rare public appearance, internationally acclaimed and celebrated British scientist Professor Stephen Hawking inspired the world tonight with a global message of hope and optimism at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Hawking, one of most respected, innovative and original thinkers of our times, urged the world to be curious and to create a brave new and better world for everyone, by challenging perceptions and stereotypes that limit the potential of the human body, mind and spirit.

‘Look up at the stars, and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious,’ Hawking urged ceremony spectators and international television and internet audiences who watched the Ceremony on TV and online, and added that ‘however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’

Professor Hawking delivered a series of new statements and messages and played a key role in the ceremony combining soaring operatic performances with alternative British urban punk and international cinema cult music and songs, dramatic high wire aerial performances and dance movements across the roof of the stadium. The Ceremony's high technology special effects also included dramatic multi coloured and rapid moving shapes and formations created by pixel technology that transformed audience seating areas into a giant screen for high impact digital images, including sea and solar landscapes.

Stephen Hawking called for a new age of enlightenment as he acts as a guide to Miranda, one of the characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, taking Miranda, Sir Ian McKellen, and a worldwide audience on a journey through time and the great discoveries that have changed our perceptions about the possibilities of the human mind and spirit and the physical universe.

In the best traditions of quirky British humour, tonight’s ceremony also involved the world’s biggest apple bite in a tribute to Sir Isaac Newton. The massive collective  crunch took place in the appropriately named Gravity section of the ceremony and involved more than 60,000 audience members simultaneously taking a bite from thousands of apples that were given on arrival at the ceremony. TV viewers were also asked to bite an apple at home at the appropriate moment.

Seb Coe, Chair, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), welcomed the world to the home of the Paralympic Games. In his speech in the Ceremony he said: ‘The enthusiasm for these Paralympic Games is extraordinary. The crowds will be unprecedented. These will be Games to remember. Prepare to be inspired. Prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to be moved by the Paralympic Games of London 2012.’

The London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony was created by artistic directors Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings and provided a theatrical and emotional homecoming for the Paralympic Games. The Ceremony was overseen by the team of Executive Producers who were in charge of all four Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies, including Oscar winning film director Stephen Daldry.

Athletes from 164 teams paraded into the Stadium early in the Ceremony to be seated on the field of play. The Ceremony, inspired by their achievements, unfolded in front of them set to a score of classical and dance music.

A new choral commission ‘Principia’ by Greenwich composer Errollyn Wallen was performed by six London based choirs including the Hackney Singers, London Gay Men’s Chorus, the London Chorus, Lewisham Choral Society, Barts’ Choir and Hackney Community Choir before the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen who, following speeches by London 2012 Chair Sebastian Coe and International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, officially declared the London 2012 Paralympic Games open. Nine servicemen and women from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force raised the Union Flag to the accompaniment of Benjamin Britten’s arrangement of the National Anthem, performed by the 430-strong choir.

Continuing the theme of Shakespeare’s play ‘The Tempest’ seen in the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the central character of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony was Miranda, played by disabled actress Nicola Miles Wildin and guided by a Prospero character played by famous British actor Sir Ian McKellen. Miranda led the audience through a journey of discovery inspired by the wonder of science and its power to transform perceptions,

Their journey looked out into deep space following a dramatic interpretation of the ‘big bang’ performed by 600 volunteers, before encountering a Stadium sized library where Miranda investigated the twin themes of the Ceremony ‘reason and rights’, a voyage across a sea of ideas in a giant upturned umbrella boat, a spectacular recreation of Isaac Newton’s 17th century garden before ending up in the dynamic world of contemporary London where Ian McKellen and Miranda walked together towards an exciting future and current scientific endeavours, such as the Large Hadron Collider.

As well as a 3,000 volunteer performers and a children’s cast from the Host Boroughs, the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony featured soprano Elin Manahan Thomas performing Habdel’s ‘Eternal Source of Light Devine’; contemporary whirling dervish dancer Ziya Azazi creating the eye of the storm during Miranda’s ‘storm of ideas’; 16 year old singer songwriter Birdy performing Anthony Hegarty’s ‘Bird Gerhl’ to accompany a solo dance by leading disable dancer and performer David Toole; Gandini Juggling performing during a section celebrating Sir Isaac Newton’s discoveries; a new track by British electronic duo Orbital used in section celebrating Britain’s lead in modern scientific discoveries; Graear Theatre Company’s performance of the late Ian Drury’s disability anthem ‘Spasticus Autisticus’; and the Beverley Knight was joined by Lizzie Emeh and Caroline Parker grand finale of the Ceremony which saw a rousing performance of ‘I Am What I Am’.

The Ceremony also featured a spectacular aerial performance by 42 Deaf and disabled ariel performers who have been specially trained to perform at height. Having taken part in an eight week circus skills training programme funded by Arts Council England, they will feature throughout the Ceremony showcasing their new found skills. They include established performers as well people new to the arts such as rehabilitating soldiers and non competing Paralympians.

Stephen Hawking’s final address provided a moving tribute to the athletes. He said: ‘The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world. We are all different, there is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit. What is important is that we have the ability to create. This creativity can take many forms, from physical achievement to theoretical physics. However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do, and succeed at. The Games provide an opportunity for athletes to excel,
to stretch themselves and become outstanding in their field. So let us together celebrate excellence, friendship, and respect. Good luck to you all.’

Then a short, emotionally charged film showed the journey of the Paralympic Torch to the Stadium and pyrotechnics in the colours of the Paralympic logo were set off around the Stadium roof. At the end of the film, Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend – an aspiring Paralympic triathlete – emerged with the Torch at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, just outside the Stadium, and descended on a zip wire onto the field of play. Joe Townsend handed the Torch to David Clarke, a visually impaired athlete competing in the ParalympicsGB 5-a-side Football team, who took the Flame towards the Cauldron. He passed it to the final Torchbearer, Margaret Maughan, Britain’s first gold medallist at the first Paralympic Games at Rome 1960, who lit a single tiny flame within one of the copper petals of Thomas Heatherwick’s Cauldron, triggering the ignition of all the other petals. The elegant stems gently rose towards each other and convergde to create one great Flame of unity. Golden dandelion seeds spread around the audience pixel screen echoing the imagery from the natural world that inspired Heatherwick’s Cauldron design.

The new classical compositions, choral works and pop classics will feature on ‘Enlightenment - Music For The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games’ released digitally in its entirety after the ceremony after midnight on Thursday 30 August 2012. The specially created album features a new version of ‘I Am What I Am’, the Gloria Gaynor classic performed by Beverley Knight, alongside the new music composed for the Ceremony.

Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, Co-artistic Directors of the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony said: ‘The Paralympic Games is the second largest sporting event in the world, and its taking place in our home city.  We couldn't be prouder to have been asked to direct the Opening Ceremony.

‘We wanted our Ceremony to be both spectacular and deeply human. Having worked together over a number of years we were determined that the Ceremony should speak from the heart, tell a story, showcase our world leading Deaf and disabled artists and rise to the emotional and historic occasion of the homecoming of the Paralympic Games.

‘We had an awesome creative team, a wonderful professional cast and an extraordinary team of volunteers to open the Paralympic Games and welcome the athletes with a theatrical and fun ceremony.

Stephen Hawking said: ‘I was delighted and honoured to be in the Ceremony and welcoming the Paralympian athletes to London as part of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.’

Nicola Miles Wildin said: ‘I was so excited to play the role of Miranda and help to tell the story of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. ‘The Ceremony will celebrated the amazing athletes and the arts as well as showing how talented and diverse this country is. I was just proud to be a part of it.’

Beverley Knight said: ‘Being a part of the last night's show was not only awe-inspiring but thought-provoking. Enlightenment was an apt title for the ceremony; the 'Spasticus Autisticus' segment was simply brilliant. I was so proud to have been sharing the stage with true supermen and women.’

Birdy said: ‘I'm so proud and excited to be a part of the Paralympics, supporting the UK and welcoming such amazing athletes to London.’

Denise Leigh said: ‘Being the first to perform a new composition is always an exciting undertaking. To have the honour of doing it at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony in front of such a massive audience both in the Stadium and at home makes it doubly wonderful. I’m just thrilled to have been a part of such a wonderful event and the memories will remain with me forever.’

Mark Williams MBE, Artistic Director/Chief Executive of Heart n Soul said: ‘Heart n Soul has been credited with inventing learning disability culture 26 years ago. We’re very proud and honoured to present our award-winning artists – Lizzie Emeh and The Fish Police - and to be involved in such a historic occasion.’

Elin Manahan Thomas said: ‘The ceremony is a celebration not just of Great Britain, but of disabled people all around the globe, and the incredible achievements of which they're capable. It's a stunning opening to these Games, which I think will make Britain proud, and make the whole world sit up and cheer on these amazing athletes. I'm honoured to be playing just a small part in it and to be one of a cast of thousands, who've given time, energy and endless enthusiasm to bring together a truly mind-blowing show!’

Caroline Parker said: 'We showed them how it should be done, this is not a rehearsal-this is life.'

Danilo 'DJ' Walde said: ‘Taking part in the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony is a dream come true. To be a part of the celebration of the true Paralympic spirit and to be part of Bradley and Jenny's vision is an honour. I hope we've made London proud once more and we've continued to celebrate the London 2012 Legacy.’

DJ Excalibah said: “I don't think I could feel more proud than I do today, spending my 30th birthday DJing to a worldwide audience plus the 80,000 people here. I grew up in this area and to be a part of Jenny and Bradley's vision of Enlightenment for the true home of the Paralympic Games is quite possibly the biggest moment of life. I'm so proud of all the volunteers I've met who are helping to tell this incredible story. Let the games begin!”

David Clarke said ‘It is a great honour to be asked to play such a prominent role in the Opening Ceremony, I am very proud to be a Paralympic athlete and represent blind football.’