Sofia Nizharadze has a big responsibility in Oslo. To be a Georgian artist in the Eurovision Song Contest means to be the focal point of lots of attention. The interest from the home country is always great.
“The whole of Georgia is waiting for our comeback, and I will try my best to make them 'shine'. It's a big honour for me to represent my country,” Sofia says, punning on her song title Shine.
After a turbulent period, the Georgians visiting Oslo are eager to show the musical side of their country. And according to Sofia, the great interest for the contest in Georgia is not to be wondered at.
“Georgians are very musical. Not professionally, but everybody sings in Georgia. The audience there expect high-quality music because of the rich culture. We will try to show the peace of the Georgian culture here at the Eurovision Song Contest,” she says.
A natural break
On the 22nd of May, the Georgian delegation threw a big party in the Oslo Opera House to celebrate the Georgian national day. Sofia thinks that an event like this helps to generate interest for her country. For the Georgian broadcaster, the Eurovision Song Contest is an opportunity to raise awareness in Europe of Georgia and its culture.
All the delegations participating in the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo have visited a Norwegian school. For Sofia and the Georgian delegation, the visit was to a small school in a beautiful setting in the lush outskirts of the city.
The delegation was moved by how the young pupils had prepared boards and a multimedia presentation of Georgia. Sofia was also taken on a boat ride in Vestfjorden right by the school. She expressed great appreciation for the break from the hectic urban life of the Eurovision Song Contest.
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Used to competition
Sofia began singing before speaking, and she performed in big concerts already as a child. After that, she has participated in many musicals, contests and festivals. But nothing is quite as big as the Eurovision Song Contest.
“There were many, many festivals and competitions in countries like Italy, Turkey and Russia. I really have experience from taking part in competitions, but this is a special one. All the others were competitions for singers. This is a song competition, and also a special occasion because of all of the country watching you and supporting you. To represent my country means twice the honour.”
Michael Jackson's choreographer
For her stage show, Sofia and her team decided to create something out of the ordinary. Instead of a static performance of the classic ballad Shine, she has dancers joining her on stage, and also undertakes a number of dance moves herself.
“We try to give you an impressive stage show. The ballad is very melodic, and most people wouldn't expect what we're planning to do. Generally, you would expect a ballad to be static, but we're creating the show with dancers, and I move with them.”
The choreography of the entry is made by the well-known French choreographer Redha Benteifour. He has previously worked with Michael Jackson, and besides that many other famous pop artists, including Cher, Diana Ross and Vanessa Paradis.
“It was a great challenge for me to put it together in the beginning,” Sofia says. “I'm used to singing and dancing at the same time after performing in musicals, but this song contains so many high notes. But I trust my choreographer to arrange it so that it works.”
Sofia from Georgia appears as the 16th and second to last entry in Thursday's second Semi-Final in Oslo.