Students preparing a traditional welcome for Games athletes

Rehearsals are underway for a traditional part of the Commonwealth Games cultural programme, offering a warm welcome to those taking part.

Alissia Aldridge and Mehkel Davidson at the front help to lead their colleagues in welcoming teams to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
Alissia Aldridge and Mehkel Davidson at the front help to lead their colleagues in welcoming teams to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy's (BOA) Stage and Screen Production Academy have been working each day to prepare "A Thousand Welcomes, a celebration of the city", a colourful welcome to competing athletes and team officials from the 72 nations and territories.

The performance is part of a tradition at the Commonwealth Games, which sees a 30-minute programme when teams arrive at the Athletes' Village of a performance reflecting the culture of the host city and moments of protocol, with a flag raising, the playing of the national anthem and speeches from the team leaders.

The students at BOA, who are all aged between 16 and 18, have been working with multidisciplinary performance company LYNNEBEC to prepare the show, which they are preparing to perform around 35 times over four days prior to the Games.

The performance will capture the sights and sounds of Birmingham

Chloe Coleman and Oliver Hall are two of the performers taking part and both 17-year-olds said it was exciting to be part of such a big event.

Chloe, who lives in Wolverhampton, said: "Doing something of this is a big opportunity for me as I never saw myself doing anything like this.

"I'm feeling the nerves, but I'm going to use them like a driving force to get me through this and just have fun and enjoy it, so I can't wait to be there and performing at the Games."

Oliver, who live in Wednesbury, said: "It's just an amazing feeling to be part of something that is so culturally important and the performance itself mixes so many cultures together in a way I'd never seen before.

"There's going be a lot of nerves for me, but I'm mostly excited because it's just an absolutely amazing opportunity for me and I look forward to bringing the energy to this."

There will be different elements to the performance, including a food and dining section

The performance will take on a number of themes, including a meal involving Indian food and other delicacies from the region, as well as a picnic scene, and is another feature of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, which includes the festival sites and the Queen's Baton Relay.

Senior produce of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, Louisa Davies, was attending one of the rehearsals and said she was delighted to see the students putting the work in and enjoying themselves.

She said: "I think it's looking absolutely brilliant and is full of energy and joy and really reflects the cultural diversity, youth and incredible talent that we have in this city.

"I really think the athletes will be up for joining in and having a bit of a dance and getting a really authentic Brummie welcome to the city."

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