Ukrainian-American teen dance group makes signs, flags for pro-Ukraine rally in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Normally, this group of teens meet weekly at the Ukrainian Cultural Center to dance as part of a dance company. But given the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, which is weighing heavy on them, instead of practicing this weekend, they chose to represent their culture in a different way.

"Everybody is hurting right now, everybody is scared and worried," said Roxana Pylypczak, Ukrainian Dance Company Hormovytsia artistic director.

The group is trading in their dancing shoes for paintbrushes.

"They are drawing posters to vent out their frustrations and their anger," Pylypczak added.

These Ukrainian-American teens are making signs and flags for a pro-Ukraine rally Sunday.

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"I mean, it's hurting me and it's hurting everyone here around us mentally," said dancer Daniel Dyakiv.

Knowing the magnitude of their people's suffering, they knew where their efforts were needed today.

"My grandparents are there, my aunt, uncle, cousins -- so it's insane," said Olenka Romantsova, who was born in Ukraine.

About half the group was born in Ukraine. Romantsova moved to Chicago seven years ago.

"It like breaks my heart because all my family is back there and I'm here, and I can't really do anything," she added. "Just calling them every day, asking what's happening and it gets scary when they don't pick up."

Every one of the teens have family still there.

"They evacuated their homes. My 3-year-old cousin woke up to the sound of bombs in the capital city of Kyiv on the first night. Currently, he keeps asking what if they bomb us and he's only three," said fellow dancer Sofia Haryhorasz.

"They could be hit by a shell anytime, any moment of the day," Dyakiv added.

Their words are clear and their pain is felt.

"He's a representation of Ukraine, and he's holding Putin by the head," said Volodymyr Ilchyshyn, as he draws Ukrainian warrior, showing power and strength over Russia.

It serves as an outlet for him as he worries about his family overseas.

"They're making anti-tank barricades, getting scrapped steel together, blocking the roads, making Molotov cocktails. They have weapons, they have guns with them," he said.

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Ukrainians are doing everything they can to protect themselves as they plead with the world to help.

"Everybody needs to stand with us," Pylypczak said. "It's not about the amount of money you spend for a gallon of gas. That will come and that will go. This is people's freedom and democracy, and if we are not here to help one another out, then what hope is there? What hope is there?"
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