By Betsy Everett
Circus artistes Henry Prince of Clowns and Tatiana Kundyk normally enjoy an audience in the tens of thousands as they travel the world with their award-winning act.
But last week, emerging from lockdown in their native Ukraine, the international stars of the big top chose the Dales village of Askrigg for their return to the limelight.
First in the garden of The Crown Inn, with people gathered in the September sun on picnic rugs and chairs, then in the school field with an audience of 43 eight to 11-year-olds, the couple gave a dazzling display of their circus skills.
It was an impromptu return to the arena after a Covid-enforced seven months without work, following a successful European tour with Circus Extreme.
The couple, who are married with an 11-month-old baby, Leonardo, came to the UK to visit international events organiser Anita Watson, and her husband, Mike Barker, who together have made an eight-part documentary of the circus, following the performers all over Europe last year.
“Tatiana and Henry had been stuck in the Ukraine unable able to work for seven months, so entertaining Askrigg was a fun thing for them to do. The children loved it and they did a Q and A afterwards,” said Anita.
Tatiana , a slack wire and aerial silks artist, has been on the equivalent of Britain’s Got talent in seven countries. She speaks four languages, and this week was her first performance since having the baby.
Henry is one of the world’s top clowns and high wire artists, winning the highest award for a circus performer at the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival. He speaks five languages and holds two Guinness world records for high-wire performance. His highest sky-walk recorded was at 147 metres in Brazil – nearly as high as Blackpool Tower.
They hope to return to the Dales with a bigger show and, Covid willing, take their act into schools and run circus workshops in the future.
“Watch this space,” says Anita.