A spectacular Closing Ceremony of the First European Games
Baku, June 28, AZERTAC
The Closing Ceremony got underway with a fanfare drawing attention to the Presidential Box and welcoming President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady of Azerbaijan, Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organising Committee Mehriban Aliyeva, President of the European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey., President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, Chairman of the Parliament of Liechtenstein Albert Frick, Chairman of Russian State Duma Sergey Naryshkin, as well as representatives of the European Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee, and members of the European Olympic family.
Azerbaijan is a rich tapestry of different colours, peoples, traditions and influences. Like threads of a carpet each are distinct but, united by their diversity, they create a beautiful pattern.
On the stadium screens, a carpet weaver's threads came to life and journey through the countryside, across the ancient landscape to the city of Baku. Distinctive carpets by renowned local artist, Faig Ahmed, transformed into numbers – from 10 to zero – reflecting the vitality of modern Azerbaijan.
As the countdown hit zero, light shone on two singers on the Main buta stage. They were joined by a chorus to sing a new, symphonic arrangement of the national anthem.
Attention was drawn to the Protocol stage where the flag of Azerbaijan is carried by eight and raised by three servicemen of the National Guard of the Special State Protection Service.
Called Transformation, this part of the ceremony applauded the rich traditions of Azerbaijani music, dance and architecture, juxtaposed with the energy and power of their modern equivalents.
Traditional musicians called out a melody that's answered by a group of their contemporary counterparts.
As the scene built, traditional and modern dancers responded to each others' rhythms and energy.
Sixteen dancers spun around the Main buta stage – their dresses flaring out to create beautiful patterns.
The rhythm of the music changed as three giant sculptures began to spin as well. Each of their skirts was extended and held by 24 performers.
As the music became a rock fusion, the traditional skirts were transformed into modern, brightly coloured patterns. Then, the modern dress was pulled away to reveal the 128 performers who have been manoeuvring each sculpture.
All 504 dancers spun and created mosaic patterns across the stage.
Finally, the walls of the 'Maiden Tower' peeled away to reveal the architecturally spectacular 'Flame Towers', reminding that our present is born from our past.
A short film on the stadium screens paid tribute to the 12,500 Flamekeeper volunteers whose energy, enthusiasm and remarkable dedication have contributed to the success of Baku 2015.
The film was followed by a 50-strong children's choir singing the traditional folk tune, 'Cal Oyna'. It's a celebratory song for the nearly 6,000 athletes from 50 nations whose exceptional sportsmanship, courage and commitment have captured our hearts and minds over the past 17 days.
The placard bearers and athlete flag bearers entered in two lines – headed by Greece (birthplace of the Olympics) and Azerbaijan (hosts) – and meet in front of the Main buta stage. Children from the choir give water lilies – a symbol of peace and unity – to the placard bearers, before singing a reprise of 'Cal Oyna'.
First Lady of Azerbaijan Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organising Committee Mehriban Aliyeva was invited to the stage to deliver a speech. Behind her on the Protocol stage are 669 Flamekeepers – the volunteers who've been so vital to the success of the Games.