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Chinese elements to be integrated in Olympic Flame-lighting ceremony  February 05, 2008 16:46  Xinhua

      By Liang Yeqian

      ATHENS, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Maria Horss, the famous Greek choreographer of the lighting ceremony of the Olympic Flame, has said that

      In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Horss said the High Priestess and the Priestesses of the Lighting Ceremony for the Beijing Games have not been decided yet.

      Horss said that the normally the selection of the Priestess and the training for the Lighting Ceremony started two months ahead of the scheduled time. Priestesses are selected from the Greek National Theater and other troupes.

      Horss said the success for the Lighting Ceremony lies on the smoothly proceeding of the whole ceremony and the nice weather. Sufficient sunshine is necessary for that very special moment of lighting.

      "It is not an easy task for every lighting ceremony. For example we could not light the flame during the ceremony for Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and we have to use the flame we got from the rehearsal," said Horss.

      Horss has been the choreographer of the lighting ceremony of the Olympic Flame since 1964. She also beats the drum under which the Priestesses proceed during the ceremony.

      Eight girls have assumed the role of the High Priestess in Lighting Ceremonies of the Olympic Flame in Ancient Olympia since 1936. The High Priestess for Lighting Ceremony of the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 was Koula Pratsika, who was considered as a pioneer of classic dance in Greece. Maria Horss, who was then a little girl, stood beside the High Priestess at the very first ceremony.

      Maria Horss graduated from Koula Pratsika's School of Dance, after having successfully completed four years of studies at the professional's class. She also attended dance classes abroad, where she was taught by top dancers such as Harald Kreutzberg, Rosalia Chladek, Mary Wigman and others.

      Nowadays, she teaches at the Drama School of the National Theater of Greece. Her first choreography was Oedipus at Colonus, in 1958 in Ancient Epidaurus and she was the choreographer of morethan 30 tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, staged invarious ancient theaters.

      Although she has been around eighty years old, Horss looks verynice and elegant and she moves very lightly and flexibly as young women.

      She said she had been married, but unfortunately her husband died long time ago. She devoted herself to the choreography and her career.

      "It is always a pleasant experience to be with young girls in the trainings and preparations for the Lighting Ceremony," said Horss.