Rio Dances: Closing Ceremony For The 2016 Summer Olympics

August 22, 2016

Rio 2016 organizers are dropping the curtain on the Summer Games, Sunday after hosting the world’s elite athletes who’ve competed for 306 medals over the past 19 days here in Rio de Janeiro.

The closing ceremony starts at 8 p.m. local time, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Time. Because of NBC’s time delay, it’s airing at 8 p.m. ET and progressively later across the U.S.

We’re updating this post with scenes from the event, so please refresh to see what’s happening in Rio. We got a late start due to technical issues, so we’re filling in some blanks from the official guide to the ceremony.

The opening ceremony began with a countdown, similar to the one we saw in the opening ceremony. After that, performers evoked the colors we’ve seen all during these games — inflections on Brazil’s blue, green, and yellow flag — to form a welcoming array of Rio landmarks.

Later in the show, a segment evoked the expanse of time that the opening show also got at, with cave-paintings displayed on Maracana Stadium’s floor in a a meditation on archeology.

The effect was very pretty — but the crowd loved what came in the show’s second half. One segment, cartoon characters such as Mario ran around — and then, inexplicably and yet wondrously, shot a drill bit through the Earth and out the other side. They created a tunnel that links Tokyo (hosts of the 2020 Games) and Rio, with a green pipe-like entrance protruding from Rio.

And here in Rio, the tunnel’s green entrance the magically appeared on the floor of Maracana — and out popped Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Or at least that’s what we’re told. It’s one of those “Wait, what… I love it!” moments that Olympic ceremonies pull off at their best.

Another winning segment came earlier, when Grupo Corpo, a contemporary dance troupe from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, put on part of “Parabelo,” one of its shows, at the ceremony. But then the dancers gave way to “clay people,” and the performance drew roars of approval as the crowd bopped along to Luiz Gonzaga’s forró song “Asa Branca.”

The closing ceremonies must always include speeches, and that happened often tonight. There were also national anthems — of Brazil, of Greece, of Japan, and of Kenya (during a medal ceremony for marathon).

At the end of the show came a tribute to a personal favorite of ours: the genius landscape designer and artist Roberto Burle Marx, famous for his organic, wavy shapes (he created Copacabana’s iconic sidewalk tile pattern). Trained in Europe, Marx was a champion of Brazil’s native plants and its rainforests. In this segment, the music is “Chovendo na Roseira,” in a version by Tom Jobim.

The flame was then extinguished, in a graceful official end to these games.

And then, after a thoughtful pause — and because Rio knows how to party — the drums kicked in, and six six samba singers belted out “Cidade Maravilhosa” (Marvelous City) — a Carnival march that is Rio’s anthem. In the stadium, row upon row of people stood and danced, singing along.

Was it then over? Not yet: A sound truck appeared, along with 12 carnival queens, and athletes who competed in these games poured out of

While these games have been criticized for not having full seats, Maracana was packed last night with people who watched Brazil’s men’s soccer team win gold. And tonight, it’s full of people who came out to enjoy the unique spectacle the Olympics brings.

Music — seen by many as the backbone of Brazil’s culture — is woven throughout this ceremony, from old classics and traditional music to new pop sounds from around the country. The audience clearly agrees with the choices the show’s music programmers have made. Brazilian music has many anthems, standards that everyone can sing, and tonight we’re hearing strains of familiar music reworked in new ways.

At the start of the show, a choir of 27 children entered, looking like little twinkling stars. With singers representing Brazil’s 26 states (and the Federal District), they performed Brazil’s national anthem.

We’ll note that after a travel delay, we arrived at Maracana Stadium later than we wanted — it’s a rainy, dreary evening in Rio. But the show must go on — even in an open-air stadium. Tonight, Maracana’s halls are darkened to highlight the light show and the Olympic flame.

At the end of an Olympics, talk always turns to their legacy – and instead of one, these games could be said to have many: First and foremost, there’s the drama, grace, and excellence displayed by more than 11,000 athletes.

Then there are the games’ effects on Rio – its people, its infrastructure, and it standing. What will become of the buildings erected to host this global event? And will the Paralympic Games, which have faced huge budget problems here in Rio, go smoothly?

The impact of the Olympics on the city’s future is tied to its impact on Brazil – whose economy was bustling when Rio won the right to host these games eight years ago but which was continually forced to rebalance its budget for the Olympics and Paralympics, making cuts that sometimes gave a ramshackle air to the proceedings.

And then, we come to the members of the U.S. swim team who failed to distinguish themselves repeatedly in an episode that eventually led U.S. Olympic Committee President Scott Blackmun to apologize “to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal.”

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