On Friday, Circus Vazquez begins its run of performances in Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway. But some of the circus’ performers almost didn’t make it to the show.
Anastasiia Blyshchyk, 21, and Valeria Koshova, 22, were both born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and both attended the Kyiv Academy of Circus and Variety Arts. Both women are part of the Bingo Troupe, a Ukrainian performance group made up of dancers, acrobats, and other circus artists.
Blyshchyk said the group is very large, but they’re often split up into smaller groups and travel to different locations to work. Seven members of the group are set to perform with Circus Vazquez during their run at Plaza Fiesta, from July 15-31.
This is Blyshchyk’s third year working with Circus Vazquez, while it’s just Koshova’s first. But due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Blyshchyk had a harder time making it to the United States than anticipated.
Koshova had already left for the U.S. by the time Russia invaded in February, but Blyshchyk was still in Kyiv.
“I’d been in Kyiv, in Ukraine, in my city, for three weeks when the war started,” she said. “I already had plans to come here, but the day I was supposed to come here, [the war started]. Airplanes stopped flying.”
Blyshchyk was eventually able to make it to the United States for work. Both Koshova and Blyshchyk still have family back in Ukraine. Blyshchyk said she speaks with her father almost everyday. When she’s performing, she said, the reality of what’s happening at home melts away a bit.
“Not forgetting,” she said. “I’m never going to forget this.” But for a few minutes, she can let it all go before she’s back to real life, checking her phone for news or messages about what’s going on back home.
Koshova said she feels lucky to be able to perform at a time like this.
“We’re lucky to perform here now, because a lot of Ukrainian artists want to work now,” she said. “We’re here in the USA, so we cannot be so sad on stage, because it’s our work. And we need to show people that we appreciate that they’re here.”
Koshova said the audience response while Bingo Troupe has been in the United States has been wonderful, particularly when audiences find out the group is from Ukraine.
“They are so friendly [to] us,” she said. “It’s motivation to work better.”
The Bingo Troupe will perform with Circus Vazquez from July 15-31. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon, 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. on Saturdays; and noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. on Sundays. Plaza Fiesta is located at 4166 Buford Highway.
Tickets can be purchased online.