ST. LOUIS – On Friday, millions of people from around the world watched the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Few know what it’s like to even be a part of such a production, but one St. Louis man knows it’s like to create it.
"Exactly 20 years ago I choreographed the opening ceremony for Nagano Winter Olympics,” Gen Horiuchi said.
Horiuchi is now the executive and artistic director of the St. Louis Ballet, training dancers who perform at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL.
For the 1998 Olympics, he trained 80 ballet dancers from Japan and the United States for the international stage.
"it was such a sacred moment,” he said.
It took a year to prepare for the ceremony, and he says nothing was more unifying.
"It felt like everybody is focusing on one moment, and I could sense that we all got together,” he said. "The world was watching and we were just a part of it. It was just a special feeling."
Horiuchi says right after the 1998 Olympics, he left Japan to join the Saint Louis Ballet as a guest dancer and was eventually asked to lead the company.
"Another opportunity of a lifetime, so I just decided to accept it, and I'm here since,” he said.
If you'd like to see the former Olympic choreographer's work, the St. Louis Ballet is showing 'Love Stories' for Valentine’s weekend this Saturday and Sunday at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL.