The first day's rehearsals were nearly complete when penultimate act of the day took to the floor. The representatives from the FYR Macedonia were headed by Elena Risteska singing Ninanajna. Backed by two singers and three backing dancers, Elena began her bid to take the grand prix and succeed Greece as holders of the title.
The rehearsal got off to a slow start with the artists working out their initial positions while a photographer took snaps of the event. While the backing singers began their vocal warm-up, Elena spoke to the stage crew about the sound level in her earpieces before they kicked off their first run-through.
The first run-through was a straightforward one, with little happening in the half of song that was performed. After more discussion about earpiece levels they began again this time going all the way through the song, with the addition of Macedonian lyrics at the end.
After more debate over the noise level in the backing singers' earpieces (this time caused by too much echo and the sound not being clear enough), they resumed for another try. During the third attempt, the backing singers sounded slightly out of synch with Elenaand after yet another round of earpiece noise level changing they were ready for another go.
The perfect rehearsal
From beginning to end, the fourthperformance showed exactly what the FYR Macedonia had to offer with a blistering performance. The lead and backing vocals were spot on and the dancers' performance made the show complete. A strong set from start to finish may be enough to ensure them a place in this years final.
With a little extra time on their hands, it was decided to give Elena another chance to sing the song. And judgingby the performance they gave, FYR Macedonia would be a safe bet for even the mostcareful of betters.
During the press conference after the rehearsal Elena told of her pride to be representing her country and how happy it had made her to be chosen to come to Athens. She spoke of howshe would loveto hear people singing her song back at her after she performs for Europe.
Elena described her very first performances as singing in front of a mirror as a little girl, but her first public performance with an audiencewas when she wasten years old on a singback show. Her first professional performance came in 2002 in a reality casting showon Macedonian TV, which she won with a huge majority.
Elena also spoke of how she has managed to keep a normal life while being a star in her homeland. Afterbeing in show business for threeyears now,she says she has managed to find a good balance and keep in touch with her friends, who often come to see her shows and support her on tour.
The next question quizzed Elenaon her Eurovision memories and favourite songs. Elena joked that there wasn't enough time for her to list all her favourite songs but sheinstantly called United Kingdom entries Touch my fireand Where are you by Javine and Imanni to mind. She also liked last year's winner Helena Paprizou and the triumphant song My number one (which she began to singto the delight of the audience). Other favourites included Dana International, Johnny Logan and fan favourite ABBA. When asked about her upcoming album Elenatold us that her new one will be more R 'n' B than her last.
When asked about singing the last part of her entry in Macedonian, Elena replied that she was proud of her own language but on the Eurovision stage, English is a more widely recognised language in the contest and the delegation therefore came to the desision to use both languages in their attempt to take the crown but preserve some national identity in the entry.
As the press conference wrapped up, one final question came asking Elenawho she would call first if she makes it through the the final. She replied with a smile that all the people close to her are here in Athens so she will have no one to call.