By Jiri Skacel
PRAGUE (Reuters) – In-between somersaults, Ukrainian circus students handed out borscht and showcased some of their country’s customs in a joint performance on Tuesday night with Prague’s Cirk La Putyka, which gave two dozen teenage students a new home after they fled Kyiv.
The Prague contemporary circus company answered a call for help from the Kyiv Municipal Academy of Performing and Circus Arts after Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, providing training space, lodging, food and arranged English lessons.
The group includes a teacher and two students’ mothers, deputy rector of the school, Nina Araya, told Reuters in Prague.
“Twenty-five teenagers came from a very stressful situation, their parents are still in a place where the war is,” she said.
“They are communicating every day, they are super-stressed and it is not easy, it is not easy even for adults. What we are trying to do is to focus them on their profession.”
At their joint fund-raising event in a former Prague slaughterhouse on Tuesday, Czech and Ukrainian artists showed a part-spoken, part-acrobatic, part-pantomime performance they had just two days to practice.
“We are turning into a performance what we have lived through here in the past three weeks and what we are living through now, using metaphor and images,” Cirk La Putyka director Rosta Novak said.
This was a one-off show but more performances will likely be developed in the coming weeks, he said.
Cirk La Putyka supports the students, along with donations.
“People contact us wanting to help, by bringing furnishings for their accommodation, others bring food. It will be tough but I did not hesitate for a second, none of us did,” Novak said.
Student Oleh Vakal, 16, from the city of Krivyi Rih in central Ukraine, said it was tough to focus given his family remained back home.
“I hope the war in Ukraine ends and we all go back to Ukraine, and the next time I come to Prague, we will be performing here about (the) result of war or something similar, and everything will be alright and good.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war.
(Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)