A Ukrainian-American teen dance group holds signs and flags for a pro-Ukrainian rally in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) — Normally, this group of teenagers meets weekly at the Ukrainian Cultural Center to dance in a dance company. But faced with the gravity of the situation in Ukraine which weighs heavily on them, instead of training this weekend, they have chosen to represent their culture in a different way.

“Everyone is suffering right now, everyone is scared and worried,” said Roxana Pylypczak, artistic director of Ukrainian dance company Hormovytsia.

The group swaps their dancing shoes for paintbrushes.

“They draw posters to express their frustrations and anger,” Pylypczak added.

These Ukrainian-American teenagers make signs and flags for a pro-Ukrainian rally on Sunday.

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“I mean, it hurts me and it hurts everyone here around us mentally,” said dancer Daniel Dyakiv.

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

“My grandparents are there, my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, so it’s crazy,” said Ukraine-born Olenka Romantsova.

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

“It breaks my heart because my whole family is there and I’m here, and there’s really nothing I can do,” she added. “You just call them every day, ask them what’s going on and it gets scary when they don’t pick up.”

Each of the teenagers still has family there.

“They evacuated their homes. My 3-year-old cousin woke up to the sound of bombs in the capital Kyiv the first night. Currently he keeps asking and if they were bombing us when he didn’t only three years,” said another dancer. Sofia Haryhorasz.

“They could be hit by a shell at any time, any time of the day,” Dyakiv added.

Their words are clear and their pain is felt.

“It’s a representation of Ukraine, and he’s got Putin by the head,” said Volodymyr Ilchyshyn, as he draws a Ukrainian warrior, showing his power and strength over Russia.

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

“They build anti-tank barricades, gather scrap steel, block roads, make Molotov cocktails. They have weapons, they have guns with them,” he said.

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Ukrainians are doing all they can to protect themselves as they beg the world to help them.

“Everyone has to be with us,” Pylypczak said. “It’s not about how much money you spend on a gallon of gas. It comes and goes. It’s about people’s freedom and democracy, and if we’re not here to help each other, so what hope is there? is there hope?”

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