Our free day is over and work has begun. Our theatre is an ancient Roman amphitheatre with numerous old column pieces scattered about the backstage area. It is hard not to picture gladiators fighting off lions and tigers. We were gladiators in our own respect, fighting off the wear of a trans-Atlantic flight and the pains and weakness incurred from a week without performing. In most cases we were not the victors. If the old theater proverb of ‘bad rehearsal, great show’ stands true, we will return home a few days late due to mass encores and numerous curtain calls.
Yeah, rehearsal was one big cluster-fuck of dance. I think we have all applied and extra amount of pressure on ourselves. Having Alexei (the choreographer) here with us is making us extra nervous. Many of us have never worked for someone that we respects so much. There almost seems to be a father figure feeling with him. We all want his praise and want to please him. I’m pretty sure that he is happy with all of us regardless of how shitty a rehearsal can be.
There also is an overwhelming feeling of responsibility to represent our art and history here. We are dancing an amazing ballet by one of today’s most sought out choreographers, in his presence no less, while paying homage to life’s most prolithic choreographers. I personally find this trip especially meaningful since I myself am in the process of switching from dancer to choreographer, and to have this experience at this stage of change is overwhelmingly influential.
But enough about me lets talk Spoleto. This town is amazing. It’s a permanent museum. Every inch has something special. Gorgeous archway, ancient water fountains, huge aqueducts are everywhere. They streets are filled with little Italian grandmothers, all wearing aprons in anticipation of rolling out pasta dough at any moment. Oh and what pasta it will be.
On our first night, Rebecca and I went to a cute little restaurant that we had passed by earlier in the day. We sat down in a room filled with years worth of knick-knacks including what I would imagine is the world’s largest collection of Pinocchio marionettes. We sat waiting for our menus as our hostess insisted on speaking to us in Italian as we politely nodded our heads in fake agreement. Still no menus.
Then she returns with a book on cooking in the Umbria region, and who is on the cover, just the little old lady in an apron that we just watched back to the kitchen. I give the book a quick skim and realize that there will be no menu. We will eat what is brought out. And sweet jesus did the food ever come out. First cured meats and zucchini covered in breadcrumbs, then raw mushrooms stuffed with garlic and olive oil. Next came the most amazing brushetta that we will ever have, along with fried zucchini flowers. All of this was followed by something that I’m not sure of, but loved. All of this was washed down with local wine that never stopped flowing. At this point we were stuffed to the gills and had to tell our host that we had to stop. Seriously, we never made it past the starters. He wasn’t too happy to see us call it quits, but we didn’t want to waste their food. Take a guess where we ate the following night?