Berlin
, 05. October 2016
Body Art in Perfection

The Art of Contortionists

It's amazing to look at, the way contortionists transform their bodies effortlessly to human nodes through bends, they way how they perform a balancing act or how they bend that far backwards until they touch their heads with their soles.

x-working A contortionist performance amazes the audience
A contortionist performance amazes the audience

But what for the viewer appears seemingly effortlessly, is also for contortionists only doable through many years of hard training. In technical jargon called "contortion", the contortionists practice their agility by stretching.

There protrude myths around these artists. For example, it is often claimed that one needs to be born as a contortionists. That's not quite right - any sufficiently motivated humen beeing can become a contortionist. Sure, naturally agile people benefit from significant advantages. Moreover, it is another myth that contortionists got more joints than "normal" people. But actually everyone fully developed person has exactly the same number of joints.

For contortionists there are different types of performances. In Adagio Act a very slow acrobatic dance is performed, in which acrobatics partner lift each others and carry themselves to show splits or other mobility poses. The contortionist Horst Frindt based in Hirschhorn am Neckar was already infamous in the 50s, 60s and 70s. For decades he performed his "Ragdoll - man or doll" show around the globe. Here, the small, wiry Horst was a rag doll, and was seemingly bend by his assistants on stage at their leisure plus he could fly through the air. The "Spanish Network" is a contosion performance, which is performed on stage. The acrobat holds fast onto a loop of a rope, while he performs a wide variety of exercises. Some contortionists use props such as hula-hoops or juggling rings.

The costumes are usually very imaginative. Many contortionists wear form-fitting bodysuits with glitter patterns. Snake or cat costumes are also very popular. Earlier contortionists were often enjoyed in the circus or in selected variety shows. Nowadays you often see them with their fascinating artistry in talent shows or they are booked for different events or in clubs.

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