Eurovision Trivia: Interval Acts throughout the decades (Part One)
Interval acts had always been interwoven with the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. Since the beginning of the institution, they have been incorporated into the show flow as they cover the spare time between the end of the presentation of the candidate songs and the announcement of the scores.
During the decades, there have been various events in this pleasant break which usually lasts about ten minutes: performances by artists, dancing, video with the beauties of the organizing countries, artworks, music-choir shows, acts with local traditions etc. Sometimes with more imagination and sometimes without any particular meaning, the aim of these are on the one hand, to present a beautiful mini-show while keeping company in the public during the voting process, but on the other hand, they give the organizers the appropriate time to prepare for the presentation of the results .
Let’s start a flashback in the distant past to remember them.
1960’s – The era of black and white and simplicity
Apart from the fact that the color has not yet come to our televisions, this first period is distinguished by acts that try to impress with their naturalness. A typical example is the intercal act of 1961 where French dancer Max Bozzoni and French actress Tessa Beaumont create a dance ballet performance.
The next year’s interval act shows us what was funny for that time, as the French artist and clown Achille Zavatta was trying to entertain the audience with a variety of fun.
70’s-80’s: Gradually colored screens, crowded acts and several bands
The television gets colored so many things had changed on the stage presentation of the interval acts. The color gives more opportunities for the organizing countries to emerge colorful clothes that makes impression while the music and the dance enter dynamically in the program.
Some interval acts that stand out are as follows:
1971- After the first Irish victory, the contest was held in Dublin. The RTE organizers chose to show us as an interval act a choir of women singing samples of Celtic tradition from the medieval Bunratty tower. The video was combined with various Irish traditions, musical instruments and clamshells.
1972 – Although Monaco won the contest last year, Eurovision had been organized in United Kingdom as the small country of Monaco could not withstand the burden of such an event. The contest was being held in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and an impressive parade of Edinburgh’s Royal Tatoo military guard, the most popular act we’ve ever seen in Eurovision history was chosen as an act.
The following years there is no spectacular act to be shown as they have to do with simple sketches such as the 1973 interval act with the Spanish clown Charlie Rivel until the presentation of the Dutch jazz band Swing College Band in 1976 accompanied by interviews with the contestants.
1979- Eurovision is held in Jerusalem, and for this year we saw, as interval act variations of music and dancers that demanded enough professionalism. All in the light of Shalom 79 which in Hebrew means «peace».
1980’s:Similar acts but with different musical styles are also used in the early 1980s.
1981- The folk band Planxty plays Timedance, which is divided into three parts: the traditional, the new compositions of Irish music and the third one, the influence of traditional music on the modern. The dance part of the act is the ballet of the city of Dublin. A similar theme with a dance show existed in 1983 with a ballet of the musical competition.
1984- The inexpensive Prague Theater of Illuminated Drawings climbed the stage and the artist made several sketches with a donkey designed on a black background.
The following years of the decade included musical instruments such as the Guitars Unlimited musical performance in 1985, and Mark Grauwles with his flute in 1987, groups such as the Irish rock band Hothouse Flowers, which featured the «Do not Go song» in 1988 but also arches in 1989 with Guy Tell giving a delightful spectacle.
1986- One of the most beautiful and nostalgic interval acts, which is worth mentioning separately, is that of 1986 when Eurovision was held in Norway and specifically in Bergen. Bergensiana was delivered by Sissel Kyrkjebo and Steinal Ofsdal in this videotaped break.. Its lyrics were written in 1790 while the Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen had written several orchestral variations in his melody.
1990’s: Restriction of sketches, dominance of musical-dancing sets and spectacles
Gradually, since the 1990s, there have been changes in what will be presented to the public. Some elements of the past continue to exist but in a new perspective and with more maturity while others are gradually disappearing.
1991- Eurovision takes place in Rome and the performer Arturo Brachetti is on stage to show us magical tricks and quick turns of various situations. It is essentially the last time we see an artist presenting something so theatrical and beyond the music.
In 1992, the «A Century Of Dance» project had been perfomed on stage, where different musical genres and influences from other musical traditions are presented. The show was led by Swedish dancer David Johnson, who took part in the Melodifestivalen of 1985 and 1986 as a dancer while in 1993, the interval act consisted of two previous Irish winners: Linda Martin (1984 2nd and 1992 1st) and Johnny Logan (1980 and 1987 winner).
1994- This year’s, Riverdance is presented. A theatrical show that combines Irish traditional music and dancing. The composer is Bill Whelan, with leading dancers such as Jean Butler. After its presentation at Dublin’s Point Theater, the musical-dancing show had traveled to more than 450 events and had been seen from more than 25 million. It is one of the most successful dance productions ever made.
1995- Continuing on the same high level, the Irish, in 1995, featured the «Lumen composition», which was interpreted by the Monks of Glennstall Abby. The show included three Brennan sisters from a well-known family of Irish musicians, but the one that stands out is Irish representative Brian Kennedy in 2006.
1996- Beacon Burning was Norway’s music-dancing proposal, emphasizing culture and music in the country.
In 1997, Ronan Keating & Boyzone featured the song «Let The Message Run Free», while in 1998 Jupiter, The Bringer of Joviality, came out, highlighting the UK’s multi-racial society that incorporates different cultures. It is also the last time a live orchestra is used in the institution.
1999- We close this first part of our trivia with the one and only Dana International which, after last year’s win with «Diva», presented to us a dynamic music-dancing show with the song «Free».