Val Hohman won't be in Russia in time for next month's Sochi Olympics. The assistant professor of theatre at Illinois and author of "Russian Culture and Theatrical Performance in America" is headed that way in April after receiving a Fulbright to work with a theatre group in Ekaterinburg. It will be her third trip to Russia, which makes her a smart choice to serve as our Olympic tour guide.
I say Sochi, you say ... spa. Historically, Sochi is a resort and rehabilitation area in Russia where many travel to rest and recuperate. Won't be a bad place for the Olympians to hang out after they compete, unless you are a Russian athlete who doesn't win a medal. Then, I'd say Canada might be a better place to rest and recuperate. Anywhere besides Russia.
Given a minute with Vlad Putin, you'd tell him ... to say hello to Billie Jean King for me when she arrives with the American delegation to Sochi.
Who'd you have carrying the Olympic torch for Russia? I could see the famous ice hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak doing it. A gold medalist who is also a member of the Duma? Not a bad choice, perhaps. Although, I can't really shake the image of a bare-chested Putin himself heroically running the final leg with the torch. I've probably seen one too many political cartoons.
How would Baryshnikov fare in your class? Fine, as long as he agreed with everything I said. No — it would be amazing to have him in conversation about the impact Russians have had on the American performing arts. He's living evidence, but he might be interested in learning about those who came a century before him. But as one of his biggest fans (remember his appearances on "Sex in the City"?), I'm sure I'd be tongue-tied ... it would be a long, quiet semester.