At the young age of nine, Danylo Strakhov was already doing things that other young children who grew up in the former Soviet Union could only dream of – he was able to take in the sights and sounds of the expansive republic and perform in front of crowds that numbered in the thousands.
As professional acrobat, he travelled across the country, fascinating audiences along the way with daring performances and choreographed calisthenics. Now a father himself, he dreams to continue his family’s legacy as a travelling circus troupe – and his chosen protege is his eight-year-old son, Oskar.
After failing to make it through the judges’ cuts of America’s Got Talent’s 12th season, the duo is back to travelling and performing across the globe. Their current stop is Cambodia, where they will be performing in Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld Entertainment Centre until February.
KT: How did you become involved in acrobatic performances?
Danylo: At first, I really didn’t have an option – I was born into a circus family. My father was an artist and once I turned six, my father began to teach me the acts and tricks that he had learned as a travelling performer. I began to appreciate the complexity of the performances, and in the end even though I had no choice, I became passionate about it. I fell in love with that rush of performing.
Oskar is still very young – he still has a lot to learn – but even he can understand that sense of excitement before a performance. One time, he saw me on TV and said he wanted to be just like his father, so that’s how his involvement began.
KT: What was it like to do something so physically challenging in front of an audience at such a young age – for you and for Oskar?
Danylo: As a child, nothing is difficult. The hardest part was probably the stretches I had to do. But Oskar didn’t have the same problems because he began at an even younger age. We began to train together when he turned five, so he was much more limber than I am. Plus, Oskar has a good sense of rhythm – he ‘feels’ the music.
I still remember my first public performance. I had prepared for three years before I was confident enough to perform in public. I was nine years old, and it was in a circus in Penza, about 600 kilometres from Moscow. It was so exciting to be in the ring – there were 3.000 people in the audience waiting to see us perform. I was so nervous, but excited at the same time. Having my father performing at the same time was reassuring, because trust is really crucial for our act.
KT: Does Oskar get the same jitters before he performs?
Oskar: No! It is exciting. I get to eat new food, see new countries.
Danylo: (laughs) He doesn’t like to admit it, but of course he gets nervous. But what amazes me is that he is so mature about it. He is more nervous about the technical aspects of the performance – the music, the staging. It is strange, but good at the same time. It means that he understands the complexity behind every performance.
KT: What are your plans for the future?
Danylo: America’s Got Talent was a good experience for us, but what I really wanted to continue on building our circus ‘dynasty’. In fact, I have already started thinking about the acts that we can do together now that Oskar has a little sister, but we probably have to wait a few more years for that.
Oskar wants to go back to Germany as he spent some time growing up in Nuremberg and he speaks German. So perhaps Europe will be our next stop.
They perform twice daily, except Thursdays at 4pm at Naga 2’s Golden Horizon and at 7pm at NagaWorld lobby.