Dima Bilan is a huge star in Russia, and of late has been trying to break his career in to the international markets. Last year he recorded his first international album in English in Los Angeles and in Philadelphia in collaboration with world renowned producer Timbaland and his production team: Danjahandz, Jim Beanz and Ryan Tedder. A new album is planned for release in 2008 and will include a duet with Nelly Furtado.
Dima is no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest, having lost out only to Lordi in the 2006 contest in Athens. Hoping to go one further this year, Russia set about their first rehearsal this afternoon. There is a ladder in the middle of the stage fitting with the climbing theme within the song, Dima is seated at the bottom at the opening part of the song. He is joined by Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton, World & Olympic figure skating champion Eugeni Pluschenko who will be skating during the performance, a male dancer who meanders around the stage and on the ladder and finally two female backing vocalists. Dima ends the performance climbing part way up the ladder.
The press conference followed, and as expected was very heavily attended. MTV Russia opened the questions session by asking how the partnership between Dima, Eugeni and Edvin came about. Dima answered "We are three friends, like in Heroes, the idea was born one year ago. There has never been a pop singer, violinist and Olympic Champion on the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest before" Speaking of the violin, Edvin Marton added "The violin used is a 1697 Stradivarius and was even played by Paganini over 300 years ago. I won this in a figure skating competition in Montreal."
Dima spoke also of the popularity of the Eurovision Song Contest in Russia and what his hopes and aspirations were this year. He states "The Eurovision Song Contest is sacred in Russia, and we never hosted it at home. We would really like to have that feeling. It's a bit like the Olympic Games, everyone has a chance to win, everyone is worthy. My desire to win is very very big, that's why we are here. Maybe finally we can do it. It's a bit like a disease when you have been to the Eurovision Song Contest, you get addicted. Whatever happens, nothing stops here, many things more will begin."
Russia are currently the bookmakers favourites to win the contest, and Dima Bilan will be competing in the First Semi-Final on Tuesday 20th May.