ATHENS -- Artemis Ignatiou, the Greek choreographer of the lighting and handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for PyeongChang 2018, said Tuesday that watching the sacred fire going to South Korea gives her a special feeling.
Ignatiou first participated in the Olympic ceremonies in 1988 when she served as one of the priestesses for the ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in Seoul. Now she is the orchestrator of the ritual performances for the first Winter Games in South Korea.
"I was the one who was holding an olive branch at the flame-lighting ceremony for the 1988 Summer Games," she told South Korean reporters after the Olympic flame handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. "It all started from South Korea and now I get to direct the ceremony. I think I'm the lucky one."
Ignatiou, a graduate of the National School of Dance of Greece, has been the choreographer of the lighting and handover ceremony of the Olympic flame since 2008. For the PyeongChang Olympics, Ignatiou said she focused on emphasizing the power of women.
Artemis Ignatiou (R), the Greek choreographer of the lighting and handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for PyeongChang 2018, and Greek actress Katerina Lehou, who dressed as high priestess, speak to reporters after the Olympic flame handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. (Yonhap)
"I tried to show women's power and encourage," said Ignatiou, who has also choreographed many theater plays and operas in her career. "I also tried to put in the dynamic aspects of Greece."
But Ignatiou said that the key element to her ceremony remains the same. After all, she is inspired by ancient Greek history and mythology.
Ignatiou was also responsible for the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the PyeongChang Games that took place at the Temple of Hera in Olympia a week ago. After the handover ceremony, she gave Lee Hee-beom, the chief organizer of the PyeongChang Games, a pair of marbles that was used during the lighting ceremony.
"This is for all the best for your Olympic Games," she said to Lee. "We want to keep in touch with South Korea."
Tuesday's ceremony was also a memorable moment for Greek actress Katerina Lehou, who dressed as high priestess in the flame lighting and handover ceremony.
"This was my last time serving as the high priestess," she said. "It was a great honor, and I'll never forget this experience in my life."
Lee later said South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon will invite both Ignatiou and Lehou to PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, for the Olympic Games. When Ignatiou and Lehou were asked whether they would accept the invitation, the answer, without hesitation, was "Yes."
"It's a great honor for us to receive that invitation," Lehou said. "We'll go there with happiness." (Yonhap)