Misha Dvorstov's been in Utah for eight weeks now. Like dozens of Russian artists before him, he left his family, friends and a career to find freedom in the West.

In this case, the Great American West.Dvorstov doesn't perform in "Suicide," the Russian play at Babcock (see review below), but he has helped as technical consultant and hopes to begin acting and dancing in Salt Lake City soon.

"I have so many friends and colleagues who dream about coming to America," he says. "I hope they can. Everyone in Russia has hopes of Glasnost working there, but I just couldn't wait any longer. I think it may take 20 years for the reforms to really come about. The intellectual and spiritual crises in my country are so deep, it's hard for many of us to trust what we're seeing."

As for Utah, Misha's impressions are thoughtful and add fresh perspective to our image.

"All my first impressions were positive," he says. "My first reaction was to relax. People here were so pleasant, so witty. And they have been so emotionally open and inquisitive. I can literally see their eyes sparkle when I say I'm from Russia.

"Now I'm beginning to feel that Utah - and America in general - tends to be a little too childlike. Americans, in my view, need to be more serious about real problems. I was watching that show, `Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,' and they showed how much of American now belonged to the Japanese. I'd come all the way from Russia to watch the Japanese buy California. I was much more upset than the Americans I know.

"Still, I'm not a fighter, really. In Russia we are so used to oppression that it gives people like me a very intense spiritual and intellectual outlook. I take my acting and dancing incredibly seriously. I think of my art as a revolution, a way of producing a better life for people; a life that's a little more harmonious, more beautiful."

Fortunately for Utah, Misha Dvorstov will be with us for awhile, adding his harmony and grace to our expanding arts scene. - Jerry Johnston