Our touring party arrived in Spoleto yesterday afeternoon from Rome and the Boals drove in from Florence. All assembled in the garden court of the Cavaliere Palace hotel for a welcome reception with piles of delicious local eats and plenty of cold drinks. What a group we are with 21 in our touring party and 24 guests composed of four wives, three husbands, four boyfriends, one girlfriend, one fiance, two mothers and three children (mine, I also claim one of the wives), and five trustees. We also have one special guest, who was not originally supposed to be a part of this lucky group and that’s ballet master Paul Gibson. The dancers each pitched in to purchase Paul a ticket to Italy where he’s never been.

Everyone seems to have someone and the group is already bonded by the experience. After I said a few words at our welcome reception I thanked James and Sherry Raisbeck for leading the sposorship for our 40th anniversary tour and James took the moment to speak in his usual frank and endearing manner. James noted that we are all family because of the indescribable experience of touring.

Later that evening as Kelly and I strolled the steep walkways of this pre-Roman town we passed another strolling couple looking very much in love as well. It was Elaine and David taking it all in with true wonder and appreciation.

Today a breakfast that was more than I needed preceded our first company class in the attic studio of the Teatro Nuovo. As the dancers creaked through the first plies, Boyd Bender set up his therapy table and started popping ankles and stretching backs. I suspect the hills were more to blame than the plies. An hour later all were well warmed up and moving with their usual grace. How exciting it will be to see our dancers take the stage of the Teatro Romano on Friday night taking their place in this historic Festival alongside, names like Pavarotti, Nureyev, and Baryshnikov. But first an afternoon of sightseeing for almost everyone in Assissi. The Boals chose a well earned siesta instead. Vacations can be tiring.

–Artistic Director Peter Boal

Featured photo: Peter Boal teaching class onstage at the Spoleto Festival. Photo © Jesson Mata.