Amid all the pomp and heritage represented in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, today will be the controversial Russian pop duo t.A.T.u., whose fake lesbian act propelled them to the top of the dance charts over a decade ago.
Konstantin Ernst, ceremony’s director, confirmed today that they will perform. Russia’s Olympic team will also march into the stadium to t.A.T.u.’s 2003 hit “Never Gonna Get Us.”
The group’s participation was rumored for weeks after one of the singers posted a message about it on Twitter and then quickly deleted it. The decision to include t.A.T.u. is considered particularly provocative coming amid international outrage about Russia’s gay propaganda law.
The women’s lyrics are about women’s affections for each other, they are photographed hugging or holding hands, and in a video of their hit are seen kissing.
The women have stated they are not lesbians and admitted that their act is a marketing gimmick. One is married to a man and the other had a baby with a man whom she later divorced.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hopes the Sochi Olympics will be Russia’s platform to showcase its post-Soviet return as a world leader and the opening ceremony is meant as its first act.
The rest of the 2.5 hour show is said to be an elaborate and colorful mix of dance and music that will highlight Russia’s artistic, musical and architectural history.
Musicians, dancers, and circus acts from across the country are expected to perform in the brand new Fischt Stadium, which will also host the closing ceremony, in the cluster of Olympic arenas along the Black Sea.
The majority of the music is expected to be classical and some of Russia’s best known ballet stars, symphonies and a world-renowned conductor are among the performers.
Ernst told reporters to expect “relatively simple metaphors.”
The ceremony will touch upon the Russian revolution and the country’s Soviet era in an “avant garde” way, Ernst said. Another section will recount classic stories by the famed Russian author Leo Tolstoy.
Ernst also suggested that themes from the 1980 Opening Ceremony in Moscow may be repeated during the opening and closing ceremonies in Sochi.
Team USA will be led by flag bearer Todd Lodwick, a 37-year-old Nordic combined skier from Colorado who is competing in his sixth Winter Olympics.
Some 44 national leaders are expected to attend the opening ceremony, though President Obama will not be there. The American delegation will be led by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and includes openly gay athletes Brian Boitano and Caitlin Cahow. Lesbian tennis star Billie Jean King dropped out at the last minute to take care of her ailing mother.