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From Rusty June 25, 2003

Dear Dancers,

It's now been a week since Katia went back to Russia, but it seems like so much more time has passed. She brought tremendous life to our little South Bay dance scene; I know everyone deeply feels her absence.

I wanted to take a moment to write my thoughts about Operation Dance, and I have also included here two letters: one from Megan, who helped me coordinate everything from Russia, and one from Katia. I know you will enjoy reading them.

First off, how can I thank each and every one of you enough for all you contributed? Just know that each deed, whether it was an action or a monetary contribution, made a significant combined result -- a sensational three-week dance adventure for one of Russia's leading lindy hoppers.

I know for all of us were thrilled meeting Katia -- she was a beautiful dancer, a vivacious person, wonderfully friendly and outgoing, and a delight on every level. She went dancing every single day/night of her three week visit! Can you believe that?! I never once saw her energy wane. She would often say to me, "I can sleep when I get back home to Russia." (She must really be sleeping now!) Well, let me have her say in her own words what she felt about the trip.

Here's Katia's letter:

Hello!

I really don't know where to start. I'm still speechless! You've had a good deal of laughing at it already, but that's how I feel - everything was UNBELIEVABLY WONDERFUL. I never expected to see all these places - the USA, California, Catalina, ocean(!), Disneyland, Universal Studios!

But places are not the most important thing - I've never expected to meet people like you! When I just arrived I was a little bit afraid, since I had no idea how should I behave and what people would think and expect from me, and, well, you know what it is to go to some new place where you don't know anyone. And then I've met you, so many new people, and all of you were so nice, so friendly, so generous! It was a dream come true! It seemed like a perfect world where there are no wars, no hatred, no conflicts - only friendly people, wonderful music and great dancing!

Thank you very much, all of you who took care of me, who spent their time, money and effort to make my stay a real fairy tale! And a very special "thank you" to Rusty - you are magnificent!

I could never even dream about a trip like this! It was fantastic! Thank you all so much!

Katia


What can I add to that? You all were so welcoming to her. You showed her the best of America and the American spirit of warmth and graciousness.

Megan was my contact on the Russian side. You may remember that I met her when I was in Russia teaching last year. She is the one vintage dressing person over there -- I couldn't miss her! We have become great friends, and when this idea of bringing someone over came up, I had wanted to bring her over. But she flat out refused, saying that if I was going to bring someone over it absolutely had to be the best possible dancer in Russia. So when the work of Operation Dance began, Megan was crucial in helping us coordinate everything, from picking out the dancer to the logistics of flights, documents, etc. I hope that one day you will all be able to meet her. She is really incredible! All I can say is "Watch out!", she is a force!!

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And now here's Megan's letter:

Hello everyone!

Everyone who took part in this unbelievable, laborious, tremendous project called "Operation Dance"!

Our whole Saint-Petersburg swing dance community wants to thank you all for providing this opportunity to Katja, our leading dancer and dance instructor!

When this project began to take shape in Rusty's mind, it seemed almost impossible to implement. And then you made it happen - a miracle of community co-operation, a miracle that is most precious and most needed in our world.

You have been very generous, kind, friendly, nice - in other words, you have been swing dancers at their best!

Thank you! (We wish we could type it for 10,000 times!)

And if any of you will ever consider visiting Saint-Petersburg, Russia - you are most welcome!

Megan


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And finally, I want to thank the Operation Dance Team, Jennifer for first stepping forward to help me and for the mammoth job of designing the Gift Registry, and for Sarah and David for helping with the sign-ups while I was in Australia. I would also like to thank my Bay Area friend, Tanya Wodinsky, for helping me so much with the letters of invitation -- I couldn't have done that without you Tanya-chan.

Well, Gates, we are the first people in the United States to bring over a Russian lindy hopper. Congratulations on a beautiful project! A project in which we all became finer people.

I hope that Operation Dance will lead to many more such experiences. I hope that it brings our two communities together for a long time to come.

Thank you again, everyone. You have been, and always are, superb people.


Dancingly,

Rusty Frank
http://swingshiftontap.com
P.S. If you want to read about Operation Dance, click HERE.


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Katia arrives at LAX
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Katia jumps into the Pacific
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Katia's first dance in L.A.
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Katia at Disneyland
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Katie - End of Series Party
Dancing with Robert, Michael, and Glenn
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"good-bye!"
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