Young Ballerina… As Hitler’s troops advanced, the Russian Ballet troupe was evacuated from Moscow. Half of the dancers went to St. Petersburg and half to Perm. After waiting out the war, the company returned to Moscow. but families and friendships had been started in Perm, and a world-class ballet remains there today.
He Walked in Blood Up to His Shoelaces
He had survived World War II. He was 18 years old and started the walk home from the front. For hundreds of miles he saw devastation, walking, wondering whether his family and his town had survived.
Artist in His Studio
During Soviet times, the top-floor apartment was built with large north-facing windows. This atelier was made available to an artist. Artists still prize these north light spaces today.
Military Officer at Banya
He was a former officer in the Russian Air Force. After preparing a thick stew from the fish he had cleaned and gutted, he spent his evening in the banya, making many vodka toasts to the fatherland, to hero pilots, to his mother.
MTV played on the TV every morning in the flat where I was staying–a bland, towering Khrushchev-era concrete structure. Madonna wailed from the radio as I was driven to Perm State University to photograph.
Stripper in White
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, cities have become flush with rubles and “gentleman’s clubs” have appeared. This club is called The Pothole. The dancer was nude when I arrived and, through an interpreter, I asked if she had any clothes she could wear for the photograph.
Her Pension from the State is $4 per Month
The temperature was 20 below zero. There was no wooden door to the small house, just a large piece of brown felt, perhaps two inches thick. Pushing it to the side, I entered the room. It was warm and orderly inside. She and her cat spend the winter in this room, waiting to get back to the garden in the Spring.
Michael Brohm is a russophile. His interest in Russia started in grade school in the 50s. He reads Pravda online, scans the New York Times for articles on Russia, emails friends in Russia with questions.
As a photographer, he has taken on a project in the Perm region of central Russia, making portraits of people from all walks of life. He is currently preparing for his next trip to Russia. To see more of Michael’s photos, visit http://michaelbrohm.com
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