Ukrainian dance troupe Light Balance Kids shares an incredible message for the world!
Each episode of America’s Got Talent: All-Stars is like the final episode of a regular season of the NBC competition series because each episode is jammed packed with talented performers from previous seasons in the U.S. and around the world who have found success on the show.
So, talent isn’t enough on All-Stars. The acts also need to have a story that touches the judges’ hearts in order to get ordained with one of the five Golden Buzzers for the season. And that’s just what the Light Balance Kids from Ukraine, who were finalists on season 14 of AGT, managed to do.
“This is our opportunity to remember what it’s like to have a peaceful time, to be a Light Balance Kid,” Mariia Honiukova said.
“Last time we danced together was before the war,” continued Maryna Zaitseva, whose father is still in Ukraine fighting for his country’s freedom. “We want our country to get peaceful again. We want to tell the world what is going on in Ukraine.”
“When AGT called us again, we were so glad we had a chance to dance together on one stage,” Mariia added. “We want to show the world that light always wins and we’re going to show the world our spirit to win.”
Initially, 14 kids comprised Light Balance Kids but because of the situation in Ukraine, some of them were unable to travel to the U.S. to participate, so a few members of the adult version Light Balance filled in to help the younger group make their dream come true of winning the prize money.
“If we win, we want to donate the money to Ukraine and children who now basically have nothing because of the war,” Mariia told Parade in an exclusive interview. “It would be an honor to help Ukraine with money.”
And judge Howie Mandel is helping Light Balance Kids achieve that win by selecting them as his Golden Buzzer, which sends them straight through to the finale.
“You’ve always been one of my favorite acts that I’ve seen in the history of America’s Got Talent,” Howie told them after their performance. “There’s such an amazing message here. Where you come from is arguably the darkest place in the world and you come to bring us light. If I can do anything on behalf of America, on behalf of AGT: All-Stars, to bring you more light than you bring us, I’d like to do that for you.”
And so saying, he hit the Golden Buzzer.
Simon Cowell agreed with Howie. He told the dancers, “It was your best performance you’ve ever done. Really. By a mile. I cannot tell you how brilliant that was. Hearing your story on top of that makes it even more poignant. If anything defines an All-Star, it’s that performance.”
Following is more of the interview with Mariia and Maryna in which they talk about their return to AGT, rehearsals, the difficulty of dancing in the costumes that are wired for light, and their hope for a Las Vegas show of their own.
What is it like coming back to AGT for the second time?
Mariia Honiukova: It was like a miracle because none of us would have expected to come together and dance again on one stage, especially the AGT: All-Star stage. It was already a miracle to actually see each other, feel each other. When you dance together it feels different because when you dance together you feel this power, the strength and maturation you give each other. It’s like sharing energy. Due to the situation in Ukraine, we were in different parts of the world, so coming together in one place was difficult. But it actually happened for us. It was like a second chance. So, being on AGT All-Stars was very important.
Maryna Zaitseva: In the beginning, memories came back. Memories of being on the stage, memories of dancing together, and this power to feel each other. Yeah, we are so glad that we are back here.
Is the war in Ukraine the reason that one of you is talking to me from London and the other is in Poland?
Mariia: Some of us left Ukraine. For example, I have relatives here in the U.K., so I’m staying here. Some of our other members couldn’t leave because they have nothing, and they can’t leave Ukraine. That’s why all of our members are in different parts of the world. With some members, we even couldn’t get in touch.
So, the whole group is still comprised of kids from the Ukraine? There isn’t any new members that are maybe from another place?
Maryna: Because we couldn’t get in touch with the old members, not all of us, we invited one more girl. She’s a new one. I think we really did a good job together.
Last time it was Ellie Kemper, who was a guest judge, who made you the Golden Buzzer. But this time it was Howie. What does that mean to you and what did he say to you when he chose you?
Mariia: I remember him saying that we have to have our own show in Las Vegas. That was mind blowing. Our dream is to follow the Light Balance adults. When he told us that we have to have a Light Balance show in Las Vegas, it meant so much. We’re working very, very hard to get the best result we can. Also, we love Howie so much. He supports us so much, it’s so warm for us and it gives us so much energy and power.
Maryna: We love him. We were in shock when he gave us the Golden Buzzer.
Mariia: We were crying.
With everybody not in the same country, how did you rehearse for this?
Mariia: When we gathered in America, we had only five days to prepare. So, it was very hard work rehearsing. We were rehearsing from morning till the evening. But it wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t our Light Balance adults helping us. The thing is that not all of our members managed to come to AGT All-Stars. But then we asked the Light Balance adults to help us, and they volunteered and said yes. Together we did a great job. Working with them was also one of our dreams come true.
Did you have to learn all new routines, or you were just perfecting a routine that you knew before your return to AGT?
Mariia: Everything was new. Every choreography, everything was new.
Maryna: We had new performances, new characters in this performance.
Mariia: New ideas.
The thing that makes your group so special is the lighting, and that has to be sewn onto the costumes. Is that heavy? Does it make it awkward to move? What’s it like to wear those costumes with all the lighting?
Mariia: I remember wearing the costume for the first time. It was so heavy, I couldn’t move. But then when you rehearse again and again you just get used to it. But, yeah, it’s heavy and at first, it’s very, very hard to move.
Do you remember the first time you ever saw Light Balance? What did you think when you saw what they did?
Maryna: I was backstage, and I saw some guys in these costumes. I was shocked because I was in normal clothes, I was preparing to dance. When I saw them on the stage, it was awesome. I loved it. When I looked on the internet, I found out that they are actually awesome. They were on AGT in 2017 and their performances are so nice.
Mariia: I found out about them on YouTube. I was little and I was just starting my dance path. I looked at them and I felt that these guys are so amazing. Then I realized they’re Ukrainian and they became my role models. When I actually got into the Light family, it was like, “Really? Is it happening with me?” So, it was very like my dream because I knew about them for a long time. Knowing them in person was my biggest dream, to be honest.
At what age did you start dancing?
Mariia: I’ve been dancing since I was 7 years old.
Maryna: When I was 10, I moved to another city, and I started to dance professionally. Earlier I danced just for fun. Then I started to dance in groups, in some teams. Then I got in the Light Balance Kids. I started dancing at six years old.
Howie said you should have a show in Las Vegas. Is that the dream?
Mariia: Of course, our dream is to follow in the steps of Light Balance adults, because they already had a Las Vegas show. We also want to bring light to the world because we have a powerful message that light always wins. When you trust people around you, together you will create a big power, a big energy that could fight darkness. We are the ones who translate this message to the audience, and we love receiving great feedback from the audience. The audience, our fans, are also very important for Light Balance, so we want to make them happy, as well. We’re happy when we’re doing this, and we also want to see the audience is happy.
What was your favorite thing about coming to Los Angeles?
Mariia: Seeing each other. Seeing each other dancing on the biggest stage of the world, I think. Of course, basically the process itself was the best part of being in Los Angeles because we met each other. We were on the biggest stage, we performed, we saw the audience, we saw the judges. It was like memories. As Marishka (Maryna) said, it was memories back. So, the process was the best part of being in Los Angeles.
Maryna: Also, meeting together and our free time walking around and just talking, speaking and making a lot of fun and beautiful photos in Los Angeles.
Mariia: Yeah, being in the moment.
America’s Got Talent: All-Stars airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.