Monday, February 5, 2007

Day 26: Roanoke Ballet Theater

It's always a small world when you travel with Valery Lantratov. The ballet world is small enough as it is, add to that Valery's outgoing nature and you seem to bump into old friends wherever you turn.

Unurbat Gunaajav, originally from Mongolia studied and danced in both Russia and Mongolia before coming to the United States where he is now head of the Roanoke Ballet School. He's the one on the right.

When I mentioned the name to Valery he said, "I know him!"

So we had another fine evening with old friends talking about people and experiences in Russian ballet.

The Roanoke Ballet School is located in a store front with a huge display window. Students have an audience of passersby and a good view of the natural food store across the street. Before coming to the school, I hadn't given a great deal of thought to ballet school lighting. Most schools seem to have overhead flourescent lights. This studio has small theatrical style track lights. Combined with the big window, it was the first time I remember having a real sense that it was night during a class.

Valery enjoyed working with the students and he complimented their teachers before the class dispersed to make way for a ballroom dancing class that followed.

After class we went with Unur and his wife Nara (she's the one on the left) and had a wonderful meal and great conversation (in Russian). You know how sometimes you're enjoying the company and you stay up a bit later than you should, even though you have to work early the next day? We didn't give a lot of thought to the fact that we needed to drive three hours to get to an 11AM class in Charleston, WV until we found ourselves pulling into our hotel at 1AM.

Incidentally, here's a travel tip. When booking a hotel on line, after you look at the photographs of the room and the list of the amenities, you might want to call the hotel and ask if it is right across from a huge factory spewing smoke. For some reason they tend to omit that kind of thing in the listings.