By Daniel Etchells

Dimitris Papaioannou was the brains behind the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Ceremonies ©Baku 2015The artist behind the spectacular Athens 2004 Olympic Games Ceremonies, Dimitris Papaioannou, has been appointed by Baku 2015 to direct the Opening of the inaugural European Games while United States company, FiveCurrents, has been contracted to produce the Opening and Closing.

In 2005, Papaioannou received the Golden Cross of the Order of Honour, which recognises outstanding artistic achievement, from the President of Greece for his work at Athens 2004.

Since then, the renowned artist, choreographer, performer and visionary, has created several ground-breaking shows that have been performed all over the world to a combined audience of hundreds of thousands.

The Baku 2015 Opening Ceremony will celebrate Azerbaijani culture and will reflect the host city's role in modern Europe, as well as honouring the athletes that will be competing., it has been revealed.

"My appointment to create the Baku 2015 Opening Ceremony is both an honour and a challenge," said Papaioannou.

"My aim is to tell a universal human story using elemental Azerbaijani ingredients in a way that is contemporary, inventive and playful, but always respectful of the culture's enormous richness and depth."

FiveCurrents, who will be working alongside Papaioannou, are most notably responsible for producing the Ceremonies for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the Rio 2007 and Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games, amongst others.

"We are thrilled and honoured to be producing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Baku 2015 European Games," said Scott Givens, President of FiveCurrents.

"We look forward to working with preeminent creative talent like Dimitris Papaioannou to showcase Baku on the world stage and deliver a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of sport and humanity."

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies will take place at the Baku National Stadium where work is ongoing ©Baku 2015The Opening and Closing Ceremonies will take place at the Baku National Stadium where work is ongoing ©Baku 2015

The application process for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies' volunteer performer programme is now open.

Auditions will begin in November with the Baku 2015 Ceremonies team aiming to recruit 6,000 performers, aged 18 and above, who have passion, enthusiasm, energy and a desire to represent their country to the world.

"The 6,000 volunteer performers will enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of appearing in the largest live shows that Azerbaijan has ever produced," said Catherine Ugwu, Baku 2015 Director of Ceremonies.

"We are delighted to welcome Dimitris and Five Currents to the team in Baku. 

"Dimitris' artistic vision, combined with FiveCurrents' production experience, will ensure an Opening Ceremony that is unique and remarkable."

Azad Rahimov, Baku 2015 chief executive and Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports, added: "The Opening and Closing Ceremonies for Baku 2015 European Games are an opportunity to showcase Baku and Azerbaijan to the world.

"I am confident the team we have in place will help us deliver spectacular events that all of Azerbaijan will be proud of."

The Opening Ceremony is due to be held in the under-construction National Stadium on June 12, in front of a capacity crowd of 68,000 people and a worldwide television audience of millions.

The Games are scheduled to end on June 28. 

More details on how to apply to become a Ceremonies volunteer performer can be found here:

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
September 2014: 
Baku 2015 praise Incheon 2014 after taking part in Games Experience Programme
September 2014: Former Russian Minister of Sport praises preparations for Baku 2015 Games
September 2014: Baku 2015 hosting first communications seminar for NOCs
September 2014: 
Azerbaijan Airlines named latest official partner of Baku 2015
September 2014: 
EOC President Hickey anticipates groundbreaking Baku 2015 Games during visit