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Spectacular Parade to Cap Bicentennial Festivities

April 25, 1989

PARIS (AP) _ A multimillion-dollar opera-ballet starring 8,000 dancers and musicians, 100 sheep, two elephants and a locomotive will highlight July 14 celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison.

The parade, titled ″La Marseillaise,″ is sure to be ″powerful and joyful,″ Culture Minister Jack Lang said Tuesday as he presented the project to reporters.

It is a two-hour spectacle that will begin under the recently restored Arc de Triomphe and go the length of the Champs Elysees to end dramatically at the Place de la Concorde. American diva Jessye Norman will sing the French national anthem - also titled ″La Marseillaise″ - behind a backdrop of water.

″Then the sheet of water will open like the Red Sea, and gather up all the performers,″ said Jean-Paul Gouze, who created the show.

The Florida Marching Band from Tallahassee will march backward, dancing the ″moonwalk″ choreographed by Michael Jackson and playing the tunes that made soul king James Brown famous. Tanks with lights, sound and confetti will trail the band.

About 1,500 drummers representing French regional cultures and traditions will be dressed in sailor suits topped with flaming hats shaped like birthday cakes, while musicians from Nevers in central France keep tune with the sound of a chugging steam engine.

Two hundred British bagpipers and drummers will think they never left home as special effects recreate the thick London fog.

Among others, China will be presented by dancers and martial artists, African countries are providing zebras that will prance behind women dancers, and Soviet acrobats will perform stunts under a mock snowstorm and a giant skating rink evoking the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

The musical score has been composed by Wally Badarou of Benin.

Each egment has been conceived like ″a scene in a movie with its own lighting and special effects,″ said Goude, who was rock star Grace Jones’ manager.

He said ″La Marseillaise″ cost $15.6 million to produce and will be broadcast worldwide to 100 million TV viewers.

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