Anastasiia Savych was in her home country of Ukraine to renew her visa to allow her to perform with the new Flip Circus in the United States when Russia attacked. She made it here, but while dancing on Long Island for 10 days in May, she’ll call her parents in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv each afternoon to ensure they are still safe.
Savych, 20, who performs in three acts in elaborate costumes along with her Bingo Troupe, says the energy of the circus is a blessing for her. “Work really helps me a lot. The circus, it’s all about happiness. When people come to the circus, they’re smiling and they have this positive vibe,” she says.
Flip Circus is a new venture for the Vazquez family, which for 50 years has run the Circus Vazquez, a show that initially catered to a Latino audience and was performed in Spanish. This new circus, which began touring nationwide in March, is a spinoff meant to cross over to an English-speaking audience, says family member Alexa Vazquez, who also performs with Flip on a swinging pole. While Circus Vazquez goes on in a tent that seats 2,000 people, Flip’s Big Top tent is a more intimate atmosphere, with a classic red-and-white circus tent that seats 850.
The acts in the Flip Circus include the traditional offerings of a ringmaster, clowns, trapeze artists, contortionists, daredevils and jugglers. No animals appear in the show. The circus will take place outside the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove through May 30.
David Larible Jr., 24, kicks off the show by juggling 10 rings that look like the Olympic rings and seven clubs that look like bowling pins. He also juggles hats. “I do Mexican sombreros. They fly above the people and come back like boomerangs,” he says.
Larible’s mother, Mery, is his assistant; his sister, Shirley, performs as Flip’s aerial acrobat. He is the eighth generation of his family to be a circus performer, he says. His father is a clown with the Circus Vazquez and previously worked with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
While Savych doesn’t have any family members performing with her, she does have four other Ukrainians in her troupe of five who dance and do balancing and hoop maneuvers; they are from Odesa or, like her, Kyiv. Two of them replaced men who had been planning to perform, but they weren’t allowed to leave Ukraine due to the start of the war, Savych says.
“When I was at home in Kyiv, I saw military drones from my window. I couldn’t imagine in the 21st Century could happen something like this.” Savych took a train to Lviv, in the west of the country, and later was able to crowd into another train filled with women and children escaping to Poland. She says she was able to get her visa handled in Poland, and that it was easier for her than most because she had a signed contract to work with Flip Circus through November. For now, her parents are safe in their apartment because the war is concentrated in other cities, she says. She is their only child, and she wonders if or when she will see her parents again. “You never know what’s going to happen,” she says. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”
Savych aims to sustain the upbeat circus feeling when she talks to her family each day. "I'm this kind of person who all the time tries to find the positive in every situation," she says.
WHEN | WHERE Weekdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at noon, 3 and 7 p.m. and Sundays at noon 3 and 6 p.m., May 20 to 30 in the parking lot at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove
INFO Tickets start at $25 per child and $40 per adult in advance at flipcircus.com; 1-877-829-7839