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Is dancing the secret to a long happy life? One man seems to think so...

By The Siberian Times reporter
05 April 2015

Victor Markov graduated from a ballet school but shunned the limelight and headed home to his remote farm, where he can't stop dancing.

He is happier than he has ever been in his life and enjoys leaping around outside in the snow, even when the temperature falls to below -40C. Picture: Galya Morrell

He could have gone on to become one of the most well-known dancers in the world, after graduating from a famous ballet school in St Petersburg.

Yet Victor Markov chose a simple life, and instead returned to the same remote eastern Siberian village in which he grew up to live on a farm with his cows and chickens.

Now celebrating his 60th birthday, while it's hardly the Bolshoi Ballet he still loves nothing more than dancing for his friends and neighbours.

And as our pictures show, he is happier than he has ever been in his life and enjoys leaping around outside in the snow, even when the temperature falls to below -40C.

Victor is philosophical about his decision to turn his back on the potential of stardom, like many of his ballet school peers, for life in a village that more often than not is cut off from the outside world.

Victor Markov


Victor Markov


Victor Markov

'It is easy to be a happy man. Everyone can be, but most choose not to. Being happy is cheap.' Pictures: Galya Morrell

He said: 'It is easy to be a happy man. Everyone can be, but most choose not to. Being happy is cheap. On the contrary, happiness can't be bought. One has to move a lot, to get up early, to milk cows, to make hay, to catch fish, to cut ice, to clean the barn, and to dance.'

And referring to people who live in the cities, he added: 'They can be happy too. They just need to dance and maybe also walk up and down the stairs instead of taking an elevator.'

Victor lives in a small house in the village of Debdirge, in the Sakha Republic. One room contains his bed, a table, chair and a wardrobe with all of his costumes, while there are large posters of ballet dancers decorating the walls.

It has no heating or running water and there is no indoor toilet, but to him it is home.

His 50 chickens and 20 cows live in his barn and every morning and afternoon, no matter the weather, the cows walk to the frozen lake for a drink of water.

Victor Markov


Victor Markov


Victor Markov


Victor Markov

His life is simple and revolves around his animals – and his dancing - and he survives by eating small meals of wild onions, fish, eggs, herbs and berries. Pictures: Galya Morrell

The chickens, which live on a special diet of raw fish and Siberian herbs, are allowed to wander freely and it seems they enjoy watching Victor dancing in the snow.

His life is simple and revolves around his animals – and his dancing - and he survives by eating small meals of wild onions, fish, eggs, herbs and berries.

'When I come home I fall down onto my bed with a smile on my face,' he said. 'I wake up with the sunrise again with a smile.'

And when asked why he hasn't yet married, he said: 'Because all women I have met so far have been fretful. They come and complain about my chickens. They complain that my house that is so small or that I don't have a car. They just complain.

'And they don’t like to dance.'


The Siberian Times specially thanks Galya Morrell.

Comments (1)

An inspirational life story. He lives a meaningful life full of joy and spirit. What a human being!
katya gritchen, canada
07/06/2015 01:15
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