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Sochi Olympics: Closing ceremony features ballet, Valery Gergiev

Sochi Olympics: Closing ceremony features ballet, Valery Gergiev
Performers dance during the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on Sunday. (Adrian Dennis / AFP/Getty Images)

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, officially came to a close on Sunday with a ceremony that drew heavily on centuries of Russian culture. In addition to music by Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff, there were performances by the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Ballets, as well as an homage to artist Marc Chagall.

Sunday's closing ceremony took place at the Fisht Olympic Stadium and was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ceremony opened with a hologrammatic montage set to passages from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."

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The Russian national anthem was led by Valery Gergiev who conducted a large children's chorus that was joined by Russian athletes who won medals during the Games. The Panrussian Orchestra, conducted by violist Yuri Bashmet, accompanied the singers. (Bashmet later performed a viola solo by Russian composer Alfred Schnittke.)

Performers paid homage to Russian-French artist Chagall with a series of living images inspired by the colorful paintings of the 20th century artist. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev performed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert No. 2 in a sequence involving a number of pianos being pushed around the floor of the stadium by bewigged performers in a choreographed dance.

Two of Russia's most famous ballet companies -- the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky -- performed in a sequence that told the story of the famed Ballets Russes and its founder, Serge Diaghilev. Members of the Bolshoi were distinguished with the color red, while the Mariinsky was bathed in blue.

The ceremony also featured an homage to the writers of great works of Russian literature, including Anton Chekhov, the playwright of "Three Sisters."

The closing ceremony was staged by an Italian, not a Russian. Director Daniele Finzi Pasca, who directed the Cirque du Soleil production "Corteo," was selected by Russian officials to give a "fresh look" at the nation's culture, according to reports.

Two weeks ago, the opening ceremony featured stagings by American choreographer Daniel Ezralow.

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