Entertainment & Arts

Profile: Kim Gavin, director of Olympic closing ceremony

Kim Gavin
Image caption Kim Gavin has choreographed and directed several Brit Awards performances

The Spice Girls, George Michael and Take That have taken part in the Olympic Games closing ceremony, a carnival of music and colour that was co-ordinated by artistic director Kim Gavin.

Kim Gavin is a master at choreographing events on a grand scale.

The former ballet dancer is widely recognised as one of the UK's leading creative directors and choreographers.

He has produced some of the biggest live events of recent years, including Concert For Diana in 2007 and Take That's latest stadium tours.

When Gavin was announced as artistic director of the Olympic and Paralympic closing ceremonies in February 2011, he said it was "a once in a lifetime opportunity".

Now, Gavin has overseen the first of those two closing shows, titled A Symphony of British Music, which featured performances from, among others, the Pet Shop Boys, Madness, Ray Davies and Annie Lennox.

Gavin described it as the "after-show party" to celebrate the main sporting competition.

He said earlier this year: "Music has been Britain's strongest cultural export of the last 50 years and we intend to produce an Olympic closing ceremony that will be a unique promotion of great British popular music."

Image caption Closing ceremony creative team (l to r) David Arnold, Es Devlin, Kim Gavin and Patrick Woodroffe

Gavin's creative team includes designer Es Devlin, music director David Arnold and lighting director Patrick Woodroffe, alongside executive producer Stephen Daldry.

Born in Bournemouth, Gavin trained at the Royal Ballet School, and enjoyed a successful career as a dancer on television and in the theatre.

He began to turn that theatrical experience to choreography and directing, and masterminded his first major shows in the 1990s, including early tours by the boy band Take That, with whom he has gone on to enjoy a long working relationship.

In 1997 Gavin directed and choreographed the 1970s musical Oh! What A Night, starring Kid Creole as hip New York DJ Brutus T Firefly. The show has toured the UK and internationally over several years.

In 2002 he choreographed the West End musical 125th Street at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and in 2005 he devised and directed the musical Love Shack, which toured the UK with a cast including Jon Lee from S Club, Faye Tozer from Steps and Noel Sullivan from Hear'Say.

Love Shack featured a song written specifically for the production by Take That frontman Gary Barlow, as well as 25 cover hits including It's Raining Men and I've Had the Time of my Life.

Image caption Kim Gavin was artistic director on Take That's recent stadium tours

Since then, Gavin has staged a long list of large-scale live events including the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium in 2007 and the Help for Heroes concert at Twickenham Stadium in 2010.

He also produced the Ryder Cup opening concert in 2010, which saw Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins make her entrance by being lowered from the ceiling of the Millennium Stadium. The concert included performances from Dame Shirley Bassey and choir Only Men Aloud.

But it is Gavin's work with Take That's comeback stadium tours Circus (2009) and Progress (2011) that have made him the ideal candidate to take on the spectacle of an Olympic ceremony.

The Circus show featured the group along with 50 circus performers and dancers who flew from trapezes and made up a human Ferris Wheel.

The show's centrepiece was a mechanical elephant nearly 8m (26ft 3in) tall - and animated by 13 puppeteers - which carried the band to the main stage.

Gavin invited London 2012 chiefs to see Take That's Wembley show. "I thought it would be a very good advert," he said on his first day as Olympic artistic director.

While the main Olympic closing ceremony is over, British band Coldplay have been announced as headliners for the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

They will take to the stage at the Olympic Stadium on 9 September for the ceremony, titled Festival of Flame.

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