Italy Tour: Benjamin Griffiths preparing for Opening Night

My third day in Spoleto had a lazy start, as company class did not start until 2:00. I wanted to make sure that my body was rested before the day’s rehearsals after all the walking we did yesterday in Assisi. At 1:15 the dancers gathered to make the trek up to Teatro Nuovo once again. Once there, we had a great class led by Elaine Bauer to get us ready for rehearsal. 

At the beginning of rehearsal Peter suggested that we mark the steps because it was so hot in the studio, as he did not want us to get dehydrated before dress rehearsal later that night. As such, we went through the three ballets with the music to reacquaint our minds and bodies with the steps; however, Sarah Orza and I did some of “Domani,” our duet from “9 Sinatra Songs,” full out because we will both be premiering in this duet on tour and felt the need to still work out some details. After rehearsal I made my way back to the hotel to rest before dress rehearsal, stopping for a piece of pizza with sliced zucchini on the way. 


At 6:45 we met in the hotel courtyard to walk to the performance venue, Teatro Romano, which is an ancient Roman amphitheater that provides a truly unique performance setting for the performers and the audience. Peter led a warm-up from 7:45-8:15, after which we had 45 minutes of free time to prepare for rehearsal. Knowing that it is hard to stay hydrated in this weather combined with having really tight calf muscles, I set out to find some Gatorade, which I luckily found! 

Rehearsal started with a spacing of Opus 111 at 9:00pm. Although the performance venue is wonderfully unique, it is also very unconventional, as there is only one small space to enter and exit the stage on each side at the very back of the stage. Plus, the stage is rounded at the front and it is huge! With people constantly running on and off stage in Opus, this created many obstacles that we needed to work out. After the spacing, we proceeded with the run through, which was really rough, especially first movement. Despite the time that we took spacing the ballet, it was still really hard for all of us to remember the changes and work with the diminished sight lines from backstage… I have my fingers  crossed that opening night will go better. After Opus, we got to meet Alessandra Ferri, a legendary ballerina with both ABT and the Royal Ballet, who now programs the dance component of the festival on Spoleto! Then, Carla and Karel danced beautifully in the pas de deux of Waterbaby Bagatelles and we moved on to Sinatra. Unfortunately, Sarah, my partner in both ballets, who hadn’t been feeling well, made the decision to return to the hotel to get some rest after Opus and I ended  up doing Sinatra solo. It was definitely a good decision on her part to return to the hotel, but it will be nerve wracking to premiere the role tomorrow without a dress rehearsal. Aside from that, Sinatra went pretty well.  There were just a few lighting issues that needed to be worked out. 

After rehearsal (11:30pm), almost all of the company headed to a pizzeria that extended its hours to accommodate us for dinner, which was a great way to decompress from rehearsal and conclude the evening. 

–Benjamin Griffiths

Photos: Spoleto Festival amphitheater and Ben and James Moore’s dressing room.

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