Monday, June 22, 2009

Viktoriya, My Teacher, My Friend Part II

Viktoriya's lessons weren't cheap, by Provo standards. We paid $120.00/month. But really, her knowledge of the middle-eastern culture and her expertise in dance and choreography were worth much more. The choreographies that we learned from her were authentic, artistic and meaningful. As our lessons progressed we moved from the gym, to her own little studio that Dave built for her, to Noah's in Lindon, to another home with another studio. We never stayed stationary for very long and sometimes it was really hard to get a continuity of what we were trying to learn. Often she would start on a choreography with us and then become distracted because of a show she would be preparing for or a photo shoot or personal problems with her own family. After all, she was adjusting to a totally new country, new language, new customs, new family structure, new faith, new friends, new everything. This takes time and she was trying her best to fit in the best way that she could, trying to make everyone happy, including herself. Sometimes it was more than she could handle. But when she was able to give us her absolute, full attention, it was well worth it. The cboreographies were amazing and we were so lucky to be called her dancers.

Throughout this time, I learned that she had a very fiery temperament and sometimes she would manifest it in word and gestures and Russian expressions. She would often halt our lessons to vent about an issue she felt strongly about. Once she gave us a detailed description of life in Russia and the culture there. It took about an hour. Did we say anything? After all, we were paying for dance, not a cultural dissertation on Russia. No, we just ate it up and listened to every enthralling detail. Another time, she told us exactly what she felt about Utah culture. Viktoriya is very metropolitan and she felt that Utah is so provincial in many ways. She definitely loved the area for the protection it offered to her girls and the good religious values around her. But she also felt that there was a bit of close-mindedness as well. Those of us in the class heard her talk about this and although many of us were native Utahns and we love our state and our way of life, many of us could relate. She talked about how many of the women in the LDS church were raised to be so careful sexually that they were even restrictive in their own relationships with their husbands and thus the reason why many of the men here stray into deviant, secretive lifestyles. She told us, "Don't be afraid to be a woman! Show your femininity and be proud of it. You don't have to be loose to do this. " She told us of how men in her ward would make passes at her, unprovoked by her, and that she didn't like it at all.

She had great charity because of the experiences she had lived through. Once she had a special class about nutrition, all compliments of her. She talked about her experiences with the fast food and convenience foods here in America and told about the ill effects this food can have on women, especially. She showed us alternative ways in which to cook, eat and prepare food. She had us taste things she had cooked. It was so very interesting and although I'm sure most of the women couldn't put everything she told us into effect, we certainly took away some things that benefited our lives. I know I did. I gained a renewed appreciation for the nutritional value of raw fruits and vegetables and how bad the white breads are. Viktoriya called white bread "white death". I have to agree wholeheartedly. She was an avid gardener. She had an amazing variety of vegetables in her garden, which she cared for herself.

Because of the many experiences she had throughout her life, she had a lot of charity for people of all races and religions. I have never seen anyone embrace all different kinds of people in every class so readily as Viktoriya did. The only prerequisite for you to be her friend was that you were able to appreciate her and accept her for what she was, listen to her and be available to help her sometimes. For some, that was a tall order. But for many of us, it was a privilege and an honor. She spoke of one day being able to go to the temple and there be sealed to her husband and her precious daughters.

She desired tolerance from others--here was a woman from a totally different culture, trying to assimilate into the American, LDS, Utah culture, to the best of her ability. She just wanted to be seen for the good that she did and for the people around her to give her peace. There came a time when she separated from her husband, Dave. She moved into another neighborhood. She was very low on finances and needed to support herself. She took in some boarders, who were a bi-racial LDS couple. The woman was from Russia, like herself and the man was black. They were married and quite happy, but she received a lot of harrassment from the neighbors. They called the Housing Authorities on her for having renters. She had lessons in her small studio. They called the city for that. She never got any peace or understanding from these LDS neighbors, who smiled sweetly to her to her face, but then turned around and backstabbed her. She felt like her visiting teachers were a sort of gestappo, trying to figure out what her status was so that they could report her and gossip about her.

Her husband, Dave, turned out to be a user and a manipulator and he was terrible to her. He blackmailed her, he lied to her, and he made false promises to her. His family was very intolerant of her and her daughter. Her feelings toward Utah and members of the LDS church turned sour. Many of us were so sympathetic but we wouldn't go so far as to deny the truthfulness of the Gospel and the reality of the plan of Salvation, the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. I told her that the people weren't perfect, but the plan was.

She eventually moved to SLC, where she had a position with the Utah Ballet Conservatory as a teacher and where she was nearer to film and modeling opportunities. She continued to teach middle eastern dance and perform at weddings and competitions. Her name was only getting bigger. Her birthday came around and she turned 39. She felt a sense of urgency to establish a solid reputation in a business where youth and physical beauty were the top selling commodities. She needed to establish security for her two daughters.

Then the fateful day in the middle of April. She was going down the road with a million things on her mind. She was still in a new country, learning a new language, learning new customs, with new people, surroundings.....and traffic patterns. She didn't see the light turn yellow, then red. She ran straight through it and her little white Toyota was hit by an oncoming van. She was rushed to the hospital with extensive internal and head injuries. Oddly enough, not one bone was broken and no external injuries were incurred. But Viktoriya was gravely injured. She lay in a coma as the surgeons tried to help her. They shaved her beautiful hair. That was a tragedy all in itself. But she was unaware of anything that was going on around her. It has been 2 1/2 months since that horrible accident. She now lays in a care facility, still in a coma.

I have been to visit my friend. She doesn't recognize me. She lays there day after day. I wonder what will happen to her beautiful daughters. One of them is left parentless and the other will most likely be raised by her estranged husband's family. One thing I do know--she has a most beautiful spirit and had so much to overcome in this life. Maybe Heavenly Father has taken her into his arms and rescued her from the grasp of the world, to teach her of His ways, to surround her with His love, and to give her a peace that she never could know otherwise. Somehow I know that He will not leave Viktoriya alone. She has done too much good and has too much love for others. I am grateful for this and grateful for His love and mercy. So rest, Viktoriya, and learn, even in this state of limbo. Your destiny is one of greatness. I love you.


dot-com-mom said...

hi, I am wondering if you have seen Viktoriya recently? Please, even if she is still in a coma, can you tell her that the Bellydancing community in Boston is sending our best wishes her way? My daughters and I really love her and became "friends" with her on YouTube just before her accident. We hope everything will be all right. Thanks for your blog which let me learn more about her! best, Jen

helena said...

Update on Viktoriya - She is still in a coma. She continues to reside at a care facility in the Salt Lake City area. Her legacy was so wonderful. We continue to love her and pray for her.

cc79558 said...

Hi, Do you have any updated news about Viktoriya? Really wish she can get well soon.
Blessings from Bahrain

Helena said...

Thank you for asking about Viktoriya! She is still at the care facility in Sandy and I see her every week. She is in a lot of pain and is given strong pain medication daily. She is so sweet and gives no one any trouble. But her prognosis for recovery is grave. We only hope to keep her as comfortable as possible and treat her as she would treat any one of us, if we were in the same situation. Blessings to you as well!

cc79558 said...

Thank you Helena for your kind answer.

zachbob35 said...

could you please give us another update on
viktoriya? She taught my daughter at Salt lake ballet conservatory.
thank you

OlyaY said...

can you please tell me what's going on with Viktoriya now? where are her girls? can you please e-mail me? she was my teacher and friend in Provo, how can I get in touch with her or her oldest girl?