Dear Rotterdam, with love from Australia x

Dear Rotterdam...

Love letters to Rotterdam from Australia during rehearsals for Eurovision 2021

MAY 8th, 2021 - DAY ONE OF REHEARSALS - First rehearsals: Lithuania to Ireland

Dear Rotterdam,

We have finally made it to day one of rehearsals! While we have a lot of FOMO as we can't be there, it was a great day to see what our first load of artists have been working on all this time. We're just so excited after such a long wait so let's get to it!


Starting off the day with Lithuania was a real treat because it's such an upgrade from what we saw at Padandom iš naujo! The yellow outfits remain, we still have five on stage but this is far richer than what we saw back then. While we keep the purple, we have lot more going on with the LEDs with hints of monochrome, plus some special camera tricks.

Slovenia with Ana's big vocal, is complemented by stunning golden staging that almost jumps out to greet you. She's retained the white outfit from EMA with the long cape. We have a lot of tight shots on her face and she uses the smaller stage towards the end of the song. Also, the big choir bit has been moved to the middle of the song for the stage performance.

Then we moved to Russia. Don't let the big dress startle you - there's more to it than just a big prop. The circle of singers remain from the national final and so does the red boiler suit. We also have the biggest zoom party ever for women on the LEDs. This is a very clever performance.

Tusse has a new red suit for Sweden and way more bling. This is no copy and paste from Melfest, this is a reimagining of it. We have more emphasis on "water" element, the dancers still remain, but this is moody, and has more of an intimate and dramatic feel.

A behind the scenes teaser of Australia's Technicolour definitely left us wanting more. Looks like the colour is coming from the generous use of lighting, we have some dancers and everyone is in shiny black outfits. Montaigne looks out of this world!

Our second last rehearsal for the day was from North Macedonia. We all knew Vasil was going to bring the vocal but the jacket reveal to show off a mirrored top? That we did not see coming! We have a lot of tight camera angles on him and the LEDs are a warm gold that look at like an audio equaliser.

Finishing off today was a glimpse at Ireland. This one turned out to be very technical with Lesley in all the wilderness, but done in a way we have never seen before, plus we are in for a lot of virtual reality and on screen graphics! There will be more revealed for this one in the second rehearsal so we can't wait!

Thanks for a great first day, Rotterdam. Sleep well, and we'll see you tomorrow x

MAY 9th, 2021 - DAY TWO OF REHEARSALS - First rehearsals: Cyprus to Malta

Dear Rotterdam,

WELL... second day of rehearsals brought the goods. You thought this semi final was cut throat? Umm yup. If only we could be there with you!!!


We started the day off with Cyprus and OH. MY. GOODNESS. Red, white and black, Elena in a silver almost Ani Lorak throwback, with four dancers in red. There is no demonic clichés here, this is SMOOTH. We have an angled giant mirror which makes the stage look fuller. Some tight camera angles keep the feel of the official clip, without copying. There is tasteful "fire and brimstone" here with some actual fire. This feels really stage ready and can't see any changes for second rehearsal.


Next we moved to Norway. This is an upgrade of the Melodi Grand Prix staging with awesome lighting in blues and golds, TIX has had a bit of a costume upgrade with glitter top and pants and the wings remain. Lost two dancers for symmetry and they are still dark and scary with horns, and they jump off and on of a set of platforms around him. The chains also remain and the LEDs feature clouds.


Croatia: WHAT A GLOW UP. Albina is in an almost space age silver jumpsuit. She is joined by 4 male dancers who mirror her outfit but look more like gladiators. We have pink and blue neon, similar to what we saw at Dora with '"tick tock" "dancin'". We also have some TV tricks where she becomes FIVE people and we also get a bit of wind machine. This is a complete package.


Then we switch tempo completely to Belgium. We have piano, drums and a backing singer all in black on platforms surrounding Geike, who is in a black short dress and high boots with diamantes so she glitters in the low light. Her face is on the back LED (eyes mostly) and the camera pans around the whole group in loop. It's moody, it's intimate, it's arty.


After lunch, we moved to Israel, who have gone a mix of art deco plus 80s neon glory. Eden is in a short white dress with five dancers in similar outfits. We have a reveal towards the end where Eden is ripped out of her white dress to show a black one. There's a lot of movement in this one! The whistle note is flawless!! WOAH.


Then we moved to Romania and this is super intense. Roxen is in a hoody and trackie dacks. She has five dancers with her in off-white/grey casual outfits. Just like the official clip, they grab her, lift her, chase her. She runs a lot and it's a very energetic performance. We have smoke machine, and the LEDs show people grabbing at the screen and smoky imagery. The lighting is blues and reds.


Azerbaijan's Mata Hari (aka Cleopatra Part 2) is very very solid. The LEDs feature an orb and a snake plus some structures. Efendi and her four dancers are in black outfits. Efendi concentrates on her vocals while the dancers pick up the moving parts for her. We have kept the traditional dancing bit from the official clip (feels a bit like Armenia 2017 with the moving arms in unison), with choppy camera work for added movement.


Ukraine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OK, enough exclamation marks but this is so good. Kateryna is in a shiny black outfit. She has green feathers on her arms and shoulders. The rest of the band is in white and they are all on this platform which is surrounded by white trees. We have two dancers also in white and they have ring lights which they dance with. There is a water well to the side of the stage. The LEDs are busy with heaps of colours and shapes.


Malta rounds out the day with PINK, PINK and more pink. Oh and some yellow, but mostly pink. Destiny and her four dancers are in pink dance outfits and it feels like a dance hall with clear platforms on the stage. We have a lot of camera tricks (split screens) to show off the "hand dance" from the official clip. The LEDS are showing striped colours (yes pink).


This was a big day. Tomorrow is even BIGGER (that us?). Until then Rotterdam, thanks for the fun x

MAY 10th, 2021 - DAY THREE OF REHEARSALS - First rehearsals: San Marino to Serbia

Dear Rotterdam,

Day three was hotter than hot!!!


We started off the day with Queen Senhit from San Marino and the staging has very similar elements to the video clip. We have the diamond shaped lazy susan in the middle of the stage, Senhit is in black, we have four dancers in masks (they almost look like a mix between Kiss, WWE, and TISM). Flo Rida is mentioned on the LEDs and we had a Flo Rida stand in (now coined Faux Rida - thanks Priyant)... this means he could make it to the stage after judging the bikini contest!! There’s also a head dress in gold that is very arty and we have really bright LEDs in the same vein as the official clip. Pyro too!!

Then we had Estonia, who is bringing moody blues. Uku is in the middle of a storm on the stage, we have lightning and clouds on the LEDs, smartly dressed like we have seen him before. We also have a huge orb on the screen (maybe a moon?). We have ripple effect on the floor LEDs and then we turn to red towards the end. We then also have some smoke machine. This is pretty much ready for the semi. Can't see many changes for second rehearsals.

Benny's had his hair done! Blonde suits him. He is in a gold sparkly jacket surrounded by towers of bright lights - almost like a cage. We expected innovative staging from Czech Republic after 2019 and we are almost there. We have four dancers on stage at various times with him, mostly in street wear. We have the same tie-dye colour effect from the official clip on the LEDs but in triangles.

Greece was absolutely stunning this evening! Stefania is in a purple glittery cat suit with gloves to the elbow. We also have a lot of pink lighting and some very very cool green-screen effects, especially with the four dancers in white suits and hats. We have a lot of cityscapes on the LEDs. She floats, she climbs imaginary stairs, she even gets spilt in half. When Greece said they were bringing something different, they were not lying. This is even higher quality than Russia's staging in 2016, not joking,

Austria have gone minimal and it's beautiful. Vincent starts off completely backlit and he is in a sparkly black jacket. We have a little smoke machine with this but it’s all about the lighting. We are really seeing how pretty the lights are at Ahoy because this looks fabulous. He is on a long raised platform that follows the beams of light so he is almost encased in them. We did have some golden lighting on the LEDs to end but by the next run through, they were removed so not sure if they are staying.

Get your sunnies on, it’s time for Poland! Rafał is in a black suit, we have four dancers in white, all in sunglasses. We have HEAPS of neon in blue and pink to start and then multicolour neon, just like the official clip. All the dancers have lights on their hands. Rafał does take the sunglasses off for half the performance. Then we have a bit of smoke and pyro. There is a lot of movement here and Rafał carries himself really well.

For Moldova, Natalia is in a silver short dress. She is joined by four male dancers in black. The LEDs are all neon pink, red, and purple shapes. They are all on podium that rotates (different to San Marino, this one is more of a square). This is not what we expected after THAT film clip. Sadly no ice creams, no face rip, no cake... they have ditched the silly and kept the sultry.

Hotly anticipated Iceland was next. We have the full band in these hybrid versions of the original green pixel face tops. The LEDs are purple, galaxy, disco, and rainbow. The use of colour is magnificent here. We have scooped keytars that all connect to make a circle (hello Ovi from Romania but this is even better). We have little people (a lot like the video game - retro feel pixel people, and there's many of them) on the side screen and some pyro and wind machine for Dadi's hair, because that is essential.

Lastly for today, we had the ladies from Serbia. They are all in black sparkly outfits with very HIGH hair. Monochrome LEDs with bars, shapes and LOCO LOCO! and red lighting and then move to an explosion of colour (blue, pink, yellow) and a disco ball. We have some smoke machine. This has all the movement you would expect from this trio!


All in all, a wonderful day at remote Ahoy, but we miss you Rotterdam! Until tomorrow, goodnight! x

MAY 11th, 2021 - DAY FOUR OF REHEARSALS - First rehearsals: Georgia to Denmark

Dear Rotterdam,

Another great day at Ahoy as we finish off the first runs of the second half of the second semi. And yes, some lovely surprises with this lot!


The big question mark was how they were going to stage Georgia, and it was actually rather beautiful. We have all this lovely blue lighting, close camera angles on Tornike. He is in a white shirt and black pants and starts off standing. The LEDs are all like blue smoke, and they project the lyrics on his face and body in yellow while he sits on a box. We also have some pops of colour near the end and some Georgian text behind him. This was very simple and just about him and his vocal.

Another one we weren't sure what they would do with was Albania. Smoke on the LEDs seems to be fave this year but we have red and blue for this one. Anxhela is in a very short silver outfit, which looks a looks like chainmail and it glistens in the light. We are using the most of the lighting at Ahoy for drama and just enough wind machine as her hair is down in a soft curl. The camera angles move from full stage wide shots to just focusing on her face. This looks so impactful and fits the song.

Portugal, who have may have taken a risk with sending a song in English, haven't taken any risks with this staging and it's very classy. We start off in black and white in a square format for the TV. White hat remains, the band is dressed very well in black and white. Very soft lighting to start and it is very similar to the Festival da Canção performance. Then we switch to colour, with a wide screen and lighting is blue. The LEDs then turns to orange through a window shape and see extra people on them - an orchestra and a conductor. Pedro uses the walkway to the smaller stage to "walk" with our lady (who is on the side screen).

We all knew Bulgaria was going to bring something special for this and they have. Victoria starts off seated on a brown platform. We then pan out to reveal that it is like an island in the middle of a “sea” of blue lighting on the floor LEDs. We also have a sand feature (think an hourglass of time moving along) and she is in a blue outfit and sneakers. There is also a photo on the island and then the island rotates as Victoria moves to the "cliff face". This is a really special one.

And then just to change the pace a bit, we move to Finland. The staging is very similar to official video and UMK performance as we have reds and blues for lighting and LEDs show the upside down person and hands on the floor. The guys have their middle fingers coloured in red to get around the censors. The band is on platforms again and have heaps of pyro!!! If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Latvia has gone with a surprising approach with their staging. Samanta in long dark green dress which is big around the shoulders and with a huge spilt up the front of show off some leg. She starts with her back to the audience and then moves to face us. The LEDS are gold, white and black with kaleidoscopic shapes and feature the hands in the crown position from the official clip. The LEDs pulse in time with the music. We have three backing singers/dancers on stage in green with the visors from last year’s official clip and NF staging but they are also wearing plastic looking black skirts. The choreography is all about the crown.

Another one we were itching to see was Switzerland. Gjon is on a platform with white pillars and beams. He’s in a shiny black top and black pants. We start with monochromatic lighting and LEDs that look like swirling oil and water, then it changes to purple when he hits THAT note. Gjon actually dances and he looks good while doing it! We have heaps of different camera angles as the pillars and beams come apart behind him. He is then left in front of one white pillar.

To round out this semi, Denmark keeps it the same as the DMGP performance and honestly, we don't mind at all. Same outfits, we have similar platforms (these are upgraded with extra lighting), neon shapes on the LED in pinks, purples, and oranges which move from grids to triangles. We also have three backing singers in loud jackets to the side of stage. Jesper then goes for a big run to the smaller stage and runs back for the end of the song

Well that's the last of the first runs for both semi finals. Now we watch to see what they tinker with over the next couple of days!


Thank you again Rotterdam Ahoy, you looked grand. Until tomorrow x

MAY 12th, 2021 - DAY FIVE OF REHEARSALS - Second rehearsals: Lithuania to Ukraine

Dear Rotterdam,


We know that in the second rehearsals everything can change... or in some cases, completely stay the same.


We started the day with Lithuania, and other than some changes to the camera angles from day one, not much has changed. We have some really cool TV effects with aspect radios and split screens. Everything is mostly the same as they got it right the first time.

Then we moved to Slovenia. We have gone full cinematic here with some really lovely wide and tight shots on Ana. She's finally got her cape to behave! The whole thing looks richer and more polished. They haven't overdone anything.

Manizha is free of the big dress earlier and there is way more movement from her in the red boiler suit. The backing singers are still in a circle, but we now have added graphics on the LEDs of words and slogans in English. We have some really great camera angles here and even from above. The part when we have all the woman on the screen remains, but the whole thing just looks like they have turned the brightness up.

We have a lot of new closer shots on Tusse for Sweden, and a lot more effects on the LEDs. We see everything clearer now and the added people on the back LEDs really fits the 'million voices'. We also have added a lot of red lighting to this. Looks amazing, it's ready.

AND then we finally got a look at Australia. Montaigne is in that shiny black cat suit. She has three dancers in the same type of outfit with her. The staging is very dark and relies heavily on the coloured lasers and lighting. We also have some really slick choreography from everyone (a step up from the Mardi Gras video). You will not be able to tell this is a live on tape performance as we have no crowd shots for a lot of the others. This is ready for the semi, no doubt about it.

Next we had Vasil from North Macedonia. The lighting is darker so we can see the TV effects of bright golden light on his chest and a puff of golden smoke from his hand. All in all, this looks much cleaner and the mirror top reveal works properly now.

Ireland has totally brought some staging and we finally get to see it in the full glory! Lesley and the sea of paper cartoons! The timing was just right tonight so we had a better idea of the overall plan. This was definitely a better performance tonight and they should be very very happy with that rehearsal. This is definitely something new for Eurovision.

Then we had Cyprus and wow, we got more, more, more. More red, more pyro. What they have added is not too much, so just enough. This is ready.

Also with Norway, no big changes this time around. The lighting seemed to fit the performance more. Moody when it needed to be, brighter when it called for it. The camera angles didn't change much either.

Another staging that didn't need anything was Croatia. This is just more polished, more refined. They hit the right spot for the camera when Albina is lifted by her dancers. All good here, honestly nothing to change at all.

Belgium also didn't have much of a change in their staging either. The focus has moved to the whole band (plus our added drummer and backing singer) for the camera angles. The LEDs how have her face and hands on them. It was great to begin with so no need change much.

We finally sorted out the costume reveal for Eden from Israel. The headdress stays on her head the whole time and the ripping off the white costume to reveal the black one has been worked on too. They have really pulled it together! This is a really energetic performance.

The huge change for these second rehearsals was Romania. They no longer have Roxen running round trying to sing and the dancers now do majority of the work for her - picking her up, grabbing her, dragging her across the floor. Instead of running from the dancers, she now does a brisk walk to the smaller stage and it is such a relief to not hear her gasping at the end. SMOKE MACHINE! Hooray! The trackie dacks and hoodie remain though. Well done Romania! This was great.

Azerbaijan have been able to add stuff to their staging to lift it. LEDs have slightly changed and look richer. We now have fire on them and actual stage pyro. Efendi looks and sounds amazing so no issues at all there.

We finished tonight with Ukraine. Kateryna was out sick (not covid according to reports) but because of the strict health and safety protocols at Ahoy, she was replaced by a stand in, who quite frankly rocked it.  We have had a few changes to the LEDs, we have people on them now, and we have a camera focus on the "water wells" that maybe contain sand or glitter? Not sure. Nothing else has changed and we all hope Kateryna is back to good health soon.


Well today was a bumper, but tomorrow is going to be HUGE! Thanks again for a great day Ahoy! x

MAY 13th, 2021 - DAY SIX OF REHEARSALS - Second rehearsals: Malta to Serbia. First rehearsals: Big Five & Netherlands

Dear Rotterdam,

Omaga, this is a loooooooong day today!


We started off this mammoth day with Destiny from Malta and oh yeah, we've changed a heap for staging. Gone is the pink marching band / dance outfit and replaced with a silver short short dress. The pink boots do remain though. The LEDs are now different colours and we have moved away from all the pink, instead we have reds, blues and some confetti graphics. Much better!

San Marino is starting to troll us with the whole "is Flo Rida coming?" and added stickers to the gold headdress just for a laugh. The dancers are still in the masks, we still have Faux Rida, but there's a lot of hints that Flo Rida is coming. The LEDs have changed slightly too.

Estonia has not changed anything for the staging, except we have better camera angles. Uku's vocal mix has changed so that is really good, he sounds much more powerful.

Then onto Benny from Czech Republic. We had glasses on and glasses off so not sure what he is going to pick. Gold jacket remains, the choreography is much better today and everything is coming together.

Greece is pretty much the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". No big changes at all here, but we have gotten rid of the extra chromakey part when Stefania is "cut in half" while on the staircase.

Same with Austria. Vincent shines in lighting and there is no need to add or subtract anything from this performance at all. They are completely gunning for jury points!

Rafał is really giving his song for Poland his all. We have had some lighting changes - it is far less bright. LEDs are now mostly from the official clip. The choreography is much better, he doesn't have to move as much. There's been a few changes to the vocal mix too. This is a good as it's going to get. Sorry Poland.

We still don't have the dancing ice creams for Moldova and we just have to deal with it. Natalia looked way happier today with more choreography, more lighting. This is still good, but we have switched from regular coke to diet coke.

Iceland is perfect - no changes and none needed!

Serbia, the same, just seems some extra polish has been added!

Then we moved onto the first rehearsals for the Big Five and Netherlands!!!!!!

Well... We started off with Italy and welcome to Måneskin's mini rock concert! We have a platform, we have lights, we have a half dressed lead singer (oh my those sliver pants). This is epic.

Then a change of pace with Germany and the lovely Jendrik. The energy is turned up to the max here. He is in a pink jacket and and plus pants, the sparkly ukulele is back,  and we have words on the LEDs that explode into colour. We have the middle finger cleverly disguised as a peace sign, we have three others on stage as the brass section. We also keep the tap break BUT we may have something new for the 'announcer' section of the song for the final.

We all knew Jeangu was going to bring art and well done Netherlands for some really lovely, authentic staging. The LEDs start as light coming through the cracks, then we have heaps of colour, plus song lyrics.  Jeangu is in a very interesting outfit. Will have to find out more info about that.

France, one of the favorites to win this year, came with staging we hoped for and expected. Very similar to the national final performance - she is lit from the side, the staging is dark, she is in black, but we also get an added bird effect on the floor LEDs.

United Kingdom has really brought the staging this year! James starts the song off on a podium, flanked by two giant white trumpets. We also have four dances with brass and they are in white while James is in black. The lighting is red and blue, the LEDs pulse to the music in shades of red and orange, we have lasers and the only thing missing is the pyro. Maybe next time.

Last but not least - Spain and this is an absolute tear-jerker. Blas is alone on stage. The stage is dimly lit, we have stars on the LEDS and a ring of colour. We have smoke machine and the biggest moon prop you'll ever see. The vocal mix has also changed and that has elevated the whole performance.

The Big "6" are very strong this year indeed.


That was a huuuuuge day, thank you Ahoy, even if you were running 30 minutes behind all day! Until tomorrow!!!!


MAY 14th, 2021 - DAY SEVEN OF REHEARSALS - Second rehearsals: Georgia to Denmark

Dear Rotterdam,

After a super long day yesterday, let's look at these second rehearsals.


For Georgia, we have some extra camera angles on Tornike. It's still very blue and moody. We have some new graphics on the LEDs that look like fireflies. We still have the projections on his face and body. We also still have the lyrics on the LEDs but some extra clouds.

Albania, well... this needed nothing more. It looks amazing.

Portugal also. It just looks brighter but other than that, it's definitely ready.

Bulgaria did have some changes. We had more camera shots on the sand feature and the photo is now in a frame, We have more gold in the lighting than before and some smoke towards the back of the stage.

Finland have added an extra "join" on the back of the guitar and we have more faces on the LEDs. If you're not awake on Friday morning, this will do it.

Latvia is also more of the same. The LEDs did look brighter today and we have the camera angles locked in.

Also no change for Switzerland. Gjon gives his all with every go and this staging is so clever.

Denmark closed out today with the same. They honestly look like they are having a blast!

Gotta tell ya, can't wait to see these performances without the giant PROHIBITED watermark! Tomorrow we finish off with Big 5 and Netherlands again! We are nearly there!!!


Thank you Rotterdam, sleep will be good tonight! x


MAY 15th, 2021 - DAY EIGHT OF REHEARSALS - Second rehearsals: Big Five & Netherlands

Dear Rotterdam.,

We made it to the final day! Our Big 5 and Netherlands round out this massive week so let's chat.


We always knew Måneskin from Italy love a good costume and yes, we have changed from our first rehearsal outfits into some maroon leather numbers with heaps of studs and laces. This feels so glam rock now!! They have also added more red (yes it possible) lighting to the start and middle of the performance and the blue remains at the end. The energy of this is amazing.

Speaking of energy... Jendrik. The poor guy seems exhausted but gives 110% to each run though with this amazing choreography. Did laugh when the peace sign's index finger got a little tired... No big changes here. The lighting and words on the LEDs seemed brighter today. Germany, you did good.

Just like Italy, The Netherlands had a little costume change of their own. Jeangu's breast plate from the first rehearsal is gone but the blue jacket remains. This was a well oiled machine on the first go so no changes, just a few new camera angles on him and his crew.

France. Let's be honest, this needed no changes. Barbara did have some issues with her top - a little bit of Hollywood tape and she is good to go.

Then onto the UK. Now you'd think a song about Embers would have pyro... but none yet. James, the dancers, the staging is all good. The giant trumpets remain. Seriously hoping for surprise pyro on Grand Final Day, come on BBC!

Finally Spain, and Blas is bringing that vocal. No real massive changes today and moon is still THAT big. We did have one run through with the moon turning red at the end of the song so not sure if that will stay.


Other than the dress rehearsals and the shows, that's it for our correspondence, dear Rotterdam. You've been a blast. Thank you x