A local piano teacher's life reads like a novel.
But her script is still being written.
She began playing piano as a small child: and now makes her living-- teaching others.
We visited her studio, A Long the Way: in Rapid City.
Pianist Mila Belakova says, "I was born in Russian City of Orenberg and I live there almost all my life."
Mila Belakova's direction in life, arrived early.
Mila Belakova says, "At age 5 I was dreaming about playing the piano. My piano at Kindergarten was so beautiful and I love to sing and to dance and I was begging my parents to buy a piano."
They did, and ever since, it has been her fingers doing the dancing as the piano sings.
Pianist Mila Belakova says, "I was teaching piano all my life for 28 years by the time I was coming here."
Mila moved here to the U.S.: to Rapid City, in 2007.
Mila says, "I thought I should try to start a new life and I always like English language."
A courageous mid life move: like a new chapter in her life story.
Mila says, "I felt like it's my other half of life. Just here. Just it was my first life, now it's my second life."
And in the midst of her story, a discovery: after generations of religious repression, Russia saw new freedoms in the early 90's.
Mila says, "I didn't have Bible till 1992 after Perestroika so we were able to find a Bible and eventually and I bought it."
Like the keys of a piano, her music and her faith, are both finely tuned.
Mila says, "People started telling me that you have gift of God and then I think it is but of course it is hard work because if you're not playing it doesn't matter which gift you got."
She's been playing in church on Sundays since she arrived in 2007.
Mila says, "I believe the music is from God. It bring people the best feelings. When I saw the eyes of the people after my concerts, they're sparkling, they're happy, some even with tears. I think great, great I did it for them so."
She's now an American citizen. In her small studio, she earns a living, teaching lessons, using puppets with the youngest kids.
Mila says, "Why? It just fun it helps to have an image when you're playing music."
Kids in America with the same dream she had, half a world away.
Mila says, "We have a song for very beginners when they play 4 notes only."
Mila says, "Children play this like Happy Hippo walks. And I'm playing this (demonstrates), they continue to play,"
She herself, practices daily. Her parents worked hard at a factory in Russia. She works equally hard at her craft.
Mila says "Sometimes to play 1 song like 5 minutes long by Bach you spend year, you cannot imagine it."
She's an American citizen now, and still loves the classics like Mozart and Tchaikovsky and so many more, savoring every moment, in this second half of her life."
Mila says, "I enjoying Black Hills. It's beautiful here."
As are the notes that flow from her heart with a childlike passion, that is the same in every language.
And a life story that is still being played out.
If you've met someone cool "Along the way", please e–mail or call us with your story ideas.
She says in Russia she taught piano, music theory, and music literature. She dreams of someday playing in the Black Hills Symphony.