An acrobatic nurse

December 27, 2013

Sofia, Bulgaria

By Stoyan Nenov

A woman with heavy make-up, wearing leotards steps into a taxi.

“To the hospital” she says. The driver looks suspiciously at her but starts the car.

Leonsiya Dokuzova, a 42-year-old Bulgarian, can tell many stories like this one.

She works as a nurse in one of the biggest hospitals in Sofia, the Balkan country’s capital, and is also an acrobat, performing stunts in movies, TV shows and the circus.


When I heard her story from a friend I grew keen to go and meet her. The first impression was of an extremely positive person with a permanent smile on her face.

“I simply love high-adrenaline jobs,” Leonsiya says while we talk in the emergency room at the hospital where she works.

Starting at the age of 15 with gymnastics and acrobatics, Leonsiya says the circus has always fascinated her. Later, when she was 20, she started studying medicine. Her career as a nurse has taken her to different wards in the busiest hospitals in Sofia.

In the meantime she has kept on traveling with her husband and two sons all around the world, performing in circuses across Germany, Russia, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea.

Her colleagues in the hospitals where she has worked accept her second job as something normal. Often they even go together with their children to watch Leonsiya performing.

“I’ve had a few cases where patients recognize me from a show they have seen… It is funny,” adds the nurse with a smile.

Throughout her career in the circus, Leonsiya has also had some rough moments, such as helping colleagues with injuries or even serious medical conditions. She recalls many different occasions — from giving injections to the children of fellow circus workers to treating another acrobat who suffered a head trauma. Once Leonsiya even helped a man who had a heart attack while the circus was on route to another location.

In the European Union’s poorest member state many people have to work two jobs to make ends meet. But only few have such interesting occupations, and career opportunities as Leonsiya. And she seems to enjoy everything that she does.

Since I first met her two months ago, Leonsiya has been performing on several TV shows and has also taken part in the latest stunts in one of the biggest circuses in Sofia. In the meanwhile, she has been promoted in the hospital and is now working in the emergency room where stress is at its highest.

REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

I can safely say Leonsiya is one of the most enthusiastic people I have met recently – always on the move, always ready to help and so involved in everything she does. Her endless energy seems to infect both colleagues and spectators. She is an inspiration and a great example that one should never stop walking.

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