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Norway's Persian prince dances onto the Baku stage

16 May 2012 at 17:22 CEST

"I'm so excited to see the stage"

Before heading into his first rehearsal, we spoke to Tooji about how he is feeling to which he said "I feel great and am so excited about seeing the stage". He also said that there were very few changes to the backsinger and dancer line-up since the Norwegian final apart from one new dancer. 

Although seemingly relaxed, this is a big day for Tooji as believe or not, he has not had much experience on big stages, with Melodi Grand Prix being the very first time for him. 

He also said that being in Azerbaijan was very emotional for him as he was born in Iran, which is not far from Baku so he said, "I feel very close to my roots here even though Norway is my home". 

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Spotlights and strobes

The Norwegian performance is very similar to the one we saw at Norway's national selection back in February but on the Baku stage it looks a lot more pronounced with new camera shots and a different feel with the backing images on the huge LED screens that make up the stage. 

The performance is very influenced by white strobe lights, dark tones and as the performance fires up, strong orange and fiery colours that represent the story of his song in many ways and are very appropriate to the theme of the entire contest, "Light Your Fire". 

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On stage Tooji is joined by four backing singers/dancers and a single male backing singer who does not dance. The costumes they wear are black colours whilst Tooji wears a grey top, leather jacket and dark trousers. 

The choreography is very impressive with very complex moves and a pretty cool backflip to start up the performance by one of the backing singers. The dancing is quite close with a mixture of fast and slow moves, as well as some easy moves in the bridge that are designed to be done by people at home.

In addition to the great lighting effects there are some pyros including a smoke covered stage at the beginning of the song to add to the songs middle-eastern, mystical flavours. At the end there are some red fireworks and flames to help bring the performance to a powerful finish!

"My song is synth pop from the west with eastern rhythms"

"I think it's beautiful here. When you see this big alien space ship you get a big "wow"", were the first words Tooji uttered when asked about the arena. 

The first question was about Tooji's roots and whether he represents the fabric of Norwegian society to which he replied that Norway is a multicultural society and that he is a Norwegian with Iranian roots.

Tooji was asked about similarities between his song and that of Eric Saade from 2011. He said, "although I can't see the similarities myself, Eric Saade is a very talented artist and I take it as a compliment". 

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Relevant to his rehearsal, Tooji spoke about how he has learned to sing and dance at the same time. He said that "I so admire Beyonce because she can sing and dance for three hours but now I have gotten the hang of it. It's fun!". 

To finish off the press conference, Tooji had a surprise for the press and fans in the room! He started off giving a step by step presentation of his dance moves, saying "the dance is really easy, but if you do really fast it looks really hard!".