Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blacksburg, VA

Thank you to Carol Crawford Smith for inviting us back to the Center of Dance. Last time we came through Virginia we had to rush off after class for another class in Salem that evening. I described it in this blog as "drive by teaching." Fortunately, this time around this was the only class in our schedule for the day. Valery was able to run the class a little bit long and to stay afterwards and speak with Carol, a former soloist with Dance Theater of Harlem.

While we were there, Carol spoke about her studio's renovation. I didn't realize until just now when I looked up the Center's web page that they were featured on the TV show "Extreme Makeover" in 2005.

When we visited Blacksburg in winter I described it as a pleasant college town with bookshops, restaurants and a small farmer's market. Between our two visits, Virginia Tech has unfortunately become internationally known as the scene of a tragedy, the largest campus shooting in U.S. history.

So I can't really mention Blacksburg without touching on this recent history. As we came into town, I tried to imagine what it must have been like in those days following the shooting when the streets would have swelled with media vans. It was the same pleasant college town we remembered, with parents and students arriving in advance of the first days of classes the following week.

Although we saw the occasional sign featuring Nikki Giovanni's defiant words "We are the Hokies, we will prevail," there were few reminders of what had happened. Our hotel lobby featured a stack of fliers with advice to students and parents on how to deal with distress in the aftermath of the shootings. The fliers by the American Psychological Society were the only true reminders we saw of how recent this crime really had been.

It was a warm but not brutally hot day, students relaxed reading on campus lawns and there was great emotion at the Center for Dance. We remembered the familiar faces and had another warm and pleasant afternoon in Blacksburg.