Liza, age 11, wasn’t a highly trained professional, but a simple village girl from Krasnodar, a town north of Sochi.
She got her part in the opening ceremonies by answering a casting call. But her daring aerial performance high above the Fisht Olympic Stadium floor mesmerized viewers and symbolized the majesty and spectacle of the Olympic Games.
Indeed, the opening ceremonies were big on spectacle, rivaling the days when the old Soviet Union would muster massive displays to stir patriotic fervor and impress the West.
The ceremonies also included such luminaries as Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, figure skater Irina Rodnina and former Soviet hockey great Vladislav Tretiak.
But amid the grandiose Soviet-style pageantry, tiny Liza’s dream sequence was monumental in its poetry. She played a girl named Lyuba, who catches a kite by its tail and is pulled into the air, as vistas of mother Russia flash before her.
Scenes from the nation’s rich history floated by her as Lyuba recited letters of the alphabet and associated them with famous Russians from writer Fidor Dostoevsky to Catherine the Great and the great dissident author Nabokov.
Check out the video below, her photos and her performance at NBC’s Olympics Web site. And be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest Olympic highlights.