KEMEROVO: Despite its image as a distant cold place, Siberia is home to many of Russia's - and Europe's - best break dancers. Roman, who runs a break dancing school in the coal producing town of Kemerovo, says the number of schools in the town is expanding as his students launch their own schools. There are now about 10 break dance schools in Kemerovo. Twerk is also becoming more popular, he said. Roman credits break dance with keeping him out of trouble during the turbulent 1990s when crime was rampant and drugs were becoming more readily available. Roman says he hopes to work with the city administration to open a proper spot for dance and recreation.
KAZAN: ”When I moved to Kazan, I randomly met a girl on Russian social media who studied at the same university as i did in Perm and who also now lived in Kazan. I sent her a message, we began to write each other and then we met. We have been together ever since,’’ said Marat, who is now married with a child….
MOSCOW: Raised in a village on Sakhalin Island, Artem said he moved to Moscow in the early 1990s with this family after the collapse the Soviet Union. Following the 1998 default, he borrowed a $1,000 to buy a used computer, printer and scanner and started to make books and pamphlets. It wasn't initially easy as he had to learn the technology. But nearly 20 years later, his business is still in operation with about 40 people employed and printing books for major publishers. However, his passion is dancing. He started taking locking dance classes at the age of 33 after having downloaded videos that cost him $600 in Internet charges. Despite feeling like 'a tree' at his first few classes, Artem stuck with locking dance. Today, he teaches others and attends dance battles, juggling his passion with the responsibilities of being a business owner and father. Artem recently opened a cafe that is run by his wife, a former Starbucks barista. Artem said he wishes he could move back to Sakhalin as he prefers nature to city life. In the meantime, he is building a home outside Moscow near a forest and river.
NIZHNY NOVGOROD: Oleg and Alexei, 25 year-old twins, were walking to a music festival where they were invited to dance. The graphic designers said they grew up in a village outside of Nizhny Novgorod, but moved to the city where they now live. I asked how they got into dance. They said they were inspired by films, including Step Up, and gave it a try. Now it has become a serious hobby. The two also practice fire shows and dream of their own performance combining dance and fire.
Alyona was walking back from the grocery store wearing poker-dot stockings, black boots and a New York winter hat. Alyona, who works at a sports betting company, said she loves writing poetry and dancing. Her dance interests range from Russian folk to industrial. Alona said she comes from a creative family. Both her mother and sister sing and dance. ''My mother has a wonderful opera voice and I am very proud of her,'' she said.