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Humanimals spotted on Hampstead Heath

PUBLISHED: 17:08 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:30 30 November 2017

Alex Kovas and Kate Kostyuk dressed as leopards on Hampstead Heath for a video promoting performances as 'Humanimals'. Picture: HUMANIMALS

Alex Kovas and Kate Kostyuk dressed as leopards on Hampstead Heath for a video promoting performances as 'Humanimals'. Picture: HUMANIMALS

Archant

A new species has been sighted lurking in the trees and among the bushes of Hampstead Heath.

Humanimals may be shaped like people, but they morph into a variety of different beasts including zebras, foxes and deer behaving in ways one might not expect with ballet, street dance and high kicks being part of their elaborate displays.

The brainchild of Alex Kovas, humanimals sees the Russian performance artist and his partner Kate Kostyuk dressing up to amuse and bemuse audiences.

It all began eight years ago when Mr Kovas decided to veer away from what he called ‘mainstream performances’ as a human statue and pursue a career inspired by the jungle.

“I just wanted to find my own niche,” the 45-year-old said. “The approach attracts more attention.”

And for a suitably wild backdrop to videos posted on Youtube – where thousands of followers tune in regularly to watch Mr Kovas and Ms Kostyuk – the pair head to Hampstead Heath where they have sparked a few double takes among passersby.

Ms Kostyuk a social research student at the London School of Economics, explained the Heath’s appeal: “It’s like a forest so it’s the perfect place to make videos. You can be in the trees surrounded by green. There’s no civilisation. When you’re in nature you feel more connected to it. It helps us to get into character more.”

Ms Kostyuk, 27, whose dancer mother Natalia lives in Hampstead, added: “People who see us look surprised. But they don’t freak out although I would understand if they did. Dogs tend to be the most interested, though they aren’t any trouble.”

The pair’s garb comes from costume-makers all over the world with the choice of animal led by matches to human anatomy.

Together Kate and Alex are 'Humanimals' performing as a number of animals and making occasional appearances on Hampstead Heath. Picture: ALEX KOVASTogether Kate and Alex are 'Humanimals' performing as a number of animals and making occasional appearances on Hampstead Heath. Picture: ALEX KOVAS

“The fox costume is the most fun to be in,” Ms Kostyuk said. “I like the furry tail.”

Mr Kovas rehearses moves at ballet classes with the pair watching nature programmes to inspire their performances at parties and business events.

Acting as a big cat or unicorn has not affected his behaviour.

“We’re still normal people doing normal things. It’s all part of a performance,” he said.

Alex Kovas prancing in zebra garb. Picture: HUMANIMALSAlex Kovas prancing in zebra garb. Picture: HUMANIMALS

But visitors to the Heath may have to wait for warmer weather before the couple’s outdoor appearances resume in Spring.

“We have to be very careful. The costumes don’t protect us from the cold,” Mr Kovas said.

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