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Romance never out of style

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Performers parade on stage during the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on Friday. Yang Shizhong / China Daily

Performers parade on stage during the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on Friday. Yang Shizhong / China Daily

In 2008, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games wowed the world with its spectacular splendor. Two years on, the opening of the Guangzhou Asian Games on Friday night also shone through with a gentle and romantic flavor.

Romance never out of style

In contrast to the 15,000 performers in Beijing, the number in Guangzhou was only about 6,000, but the opening ceremony's director does not live by the philosophy of "the bigger, the better".

"Our foreign counterparts always envy us for being able to organize thousands of people to work together for one single program," said Chen Weiya. "However, it is not wise to be addicted to the massive-crowd style."

"It depends on what you want to present to the audience during the show," Chen said.

Before the Guangzhou Asiad, Chen's biggest role was as deputy director-in-chief of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - or the assistant to chief Zhang Yimou.

However, Friday's opener of the Guangzhou Asiad on the Haixinsha in the Pearl River not only presented the city to the entire continent, but also pushed Chen into the limelight.

"A lot of people think I must have used some ideas that were not adopted for the opener of the Beijing Olympics. That is untrue," he said.

"I have thought about it. But it's not that easy. Because this is an Asiad, not an Olympiad; this is Guangzhou, not Beijing; we are holding the opening ceremony in Haixinsha, not the Bird's Nest. So many differences force you to be really creative," he said before the Friday night gala.

Chen also admits he was reluctant to take the job at first. Unlike the traditional enclosed stadium, the opener in Guangzhou was on the island in the middle of the Pearl River, the first time it has been held outside the main venue of such a big tournament.

"I was not 100 percent sure at the very beginning because no one had done this before," he said of the early days when he started working on the project in January 2009.

"Fortunately, it turned out to be a very unique experience with the river as the stage and the city as the background."

Having been the director of the CCTV spring festival gala, Chen, who is also the art director of the China National Song and Dance Ensemble, has directed a number of major ceremonies since the 2001 Beijing Universidad.

However, the 54-year-old still prefers to refer to himself as a "new hand".

"I always tell my co-workers, we should take every task as our first work. You can't repeat yourself," said Chen.

"You just try to face it like a fledgling. That's how you always have great passion and make a great work."

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