Dutch hopes to repeat their semifinal success of 2004 were honed on stage this afternoon, with Edsilia Rombley's second rehearsal in the Hartwall Arena. Edsilia is pulling out all the performance stops to do as much as she can to maximise their chances, while the delegation worked with the production crew to iron out problems with the interpretation of the song on the small screen, and make sure that stage energy transfers well to TV screens across Europe.
Edsilia's entry begins on screen with beautiful, gentle camera movements around the podium on stage, with the performers dimly lit against a red and yellow glow. However, at first, the same gentle movements were used throughout the song, and robbed something from the energy on stage when viewed on screen. Momentum had a tendency to be lost slightly on camera, particularly in the last minute of the song, with angles missing exactly where the action is and focussing on close-ups; whilst Edsilia certainly plays excellently to the camera with a beautifully expressive face, showing a little more of the choreography as well, with wider shots, could help sustain the momentum of the music as the song edges towards the finish line.
The lack of power on the small screen was remedied as the performances progressed, with more savvy camera work, and those sweeping angles pointing in the right places at the right times. By the end of the rehearsal, what ends up on screen is a fairly decent representation of how much power Edsilia and her crew put into the song on stage.
Burst into life
The lighting is now more or less set in stone, and works very nicely. Autumnal would be the most appropriate word to describe the set, lending a slightly melancholy edge to the presentation. At first the stage is in dark undertones, which burst into life with dark leaves set against bright reds and yellows as the beat kicks in.
Edsilia really gives it everything, and appears to do it so effortlessly; a complete natural, she turned in perfect performance after perfect performance, with the rehearsals only really serving the purpose to set the lighting around her. Her personality shines on stage, and the hall reaction was enthusiastic and warm. If all the pluses carry across onto the small screen on May 10th, then Dutch chances will be as high as they can be for a top ten placing.
These days, fans are used to fun gimmicks being used on the Eurovision stage; everyone was surprised as Edsilia and the team entered the press conference hall pushing a gigantic inflatable world, and then proceeded to toss blow-up globes to the audience! The trick went down well, and prepared the crowd for another conference full of laughter and jokes, led by Edsilia's infectious personality.
It transpired that Edsilia would love to release On Top of the World in the UK if invited to do so, although there were no plans to do so yet.
She also wanted to stress how trivial she feels the question of race is at the contest. When asked about the poor performance of black artists at the contest, she pointed out her own fourth place at the Birmingham event of 1998 (where, incidentally, the UK's mixed race Imaani also came 2nd). "It's a waste of time to think about those ideas", she said. "We've got the same colour blood, and this contest is all about entertaining."
And, in a salute to that happy night in Birmingham, Edsilia treated the audience to a chorus of Hemel en aarde, the entry that took her to the top five that year. This caused a riot of excited clapping and cheers – proving that Edsilia's popularity as a Eurovision classic has never really waned.
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