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Ceremony, Competition, and Celebration: The Olympics in Ancient Greece

Wearing an authentic Greek costume, Tames Alan, historian and storyteller, brings to life how the first Greek athletes trained for the Olympics and how they celebrated their victories. Take a tour of the gymnasium and palaestra and see what it took to qualify for the ancient Olympic games and what the penalties were for cheating. Experience the religious ceremonies that made the Olympics so sacred that they brought peace to a war-torn land.


Starting with just foot races, the Olympics grew to include many of the events associated with modern day track and field—discus and javelin throwing, broad and long jump. The ancient Olympics also included boxing, wrestling, the pankration, and eventually chariot racing. One lasting tradition is the passing of a lit torch in a relay race, where the winner was allowed to light the sacred fire. This is what inspired the modern Olympic ceremony of passing the torch around the world.


In the second part of this program, Tames assumes poses copied from ancient Greek statues and pottery commemorating Olympic athletes. During each 30-second pose, the audience learns the basics of figure drawing, learning how to draw the spine and limbs to create quick sketches of a human figure.


The ancient Greeks danced for many events in their lives, especially to celebrate an athlete’s victory at the Olympics. The last part of this program consists of teaching the audience a simple Greek folk dance. 

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