Tag: Contortionist

Goddess of Flexibility – Julia Guenthel (Zlata) [UPDATED]

If there is ever one person who is viewed as being a goddess and influencer in the world of contortion in Europe, it would be Julia Guenthel, otherwise known as Zlata.

 

Born in Kazakhstan, Julia was a flexible child and her talent was spotted in kindergarten, her family noticed her talent and decided to put her in circus training, starting contortion at the young age of 6 years old and had her performance at the age of 10. Julia would move to Leipzig when she was 16.

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Young Julia

“I could easily touch my toes or hook my legs around my neck — I didn’t have to think about it. My family were immediately all very proud of my ability and they encouraged me to practice and make the most of it,” Julia told DailyMail.

With her beauty, flexibility and elegance, Julia developed a following as one of the world’s best contortionists. With her impressive front and back bending skills, Julia even has the acclaim of six Guinness World Records. The records include “Fastest time to pop three balloons with the back” of 12 seconds which was set in 2007 and “Most crown cap bottles opened with feet in one minute” with 8 bottles opened which was set in 2013. Julia also held the record “Most flowers picked up with the mouth in a contortion backbend” of 11 roses however it had since been beaten by Liu Teng of China.

 

Some days training would be many hours in length, with this intense level of training, Julia became of the world’s best contortionists. With this, television appearances in Russia, Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands and many other counties came calling. Even appearing on the red carpet in Cannes Film Festival wowing actress Kylie Minogue and photographers in attendance. Julia is so flexible she can squeeze herself into a 50cm squared box.

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In 2010, Julia appeared on Discovery Channel show “Is it possible?” where a doctor analysed an MRI of Zlata in a backbend and the show was in attendance as Julia participated in another photoshoot. The doctor explained Julia’s incredible flexibility is due to increase elasticity in her joints and ligaments which is similar to that of a young child. But she faced jealousy from other girls at a young age in school, due to her abilities. Zlata, said: ‘In Russia being flexible is a very good thing to be because everyone is really into gymnastics. ‘Some of the other girls didn’t like how good I was.’

Her talents became a feature online with the launch of her own website Zlata.de where she showcased her incredible talent and skills in numerous videos and photos. This would be something that she would be involved in for many years until taking a break and eventually ending her stardom on the website in late 2016 and transitioning to a role behind the scenes.

Zlata has previously said: ‘Doing these poses just feels natural to me. ‘Sometimes it can get a bit uncomfortable if I have to hold a pose for a long time in photoshoots.

Julia has been an influence and inspiration for many contortionists around the world. Working with famous contortionists such as Alesya Laverycheva, Ruslana Krutas, Barbara Gordeeva and many others contortionists around the world.

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Julia, Ruslana & Ekaterina

Her poise, flexibility, talent and longevity is incredible, being involved in contortion for over 20 years makes Zlata one of the true icons of the contortion world. Now 34 years of age, Julia now takes her passion for contortion behind the camera with her spearheading the relaunch of her website Zlata.de featuring a new contortionist from Russia, Angelina.

Julia will go down in history as one of the world’s best contortionist and has definitely left her mark on the contortion industry.

Q&A With Julia Guenthel

How long have you done contortion for?

I started training rubber at 6 years old.

How did you start contortion?

At first I was sent to rhythmic gymnastics, after a year of classes I moved to a circus school.

How often do you train and for how long?

I train every day for 2-3 hours.

Your favorite contortion move / trick?

Tightening, standing on my feet to tighten his back so that there was no room.

What is your ultimate contortion goal?

I have already realized my dream in rubber, and not one 🙂 now I just wish that the memory of this will remain and rubber as a genre developed.

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Q&A With Ukrainian Contortionist Sofia Kostritskaya

I had the joy of asking the incredible Ukrainian contortionist Sofia Kostritskaya some questions about her journey as one of the best new contortionists. Sofia is an amazing contortionist and when she takes to the stage and performs and showcases her astounding skills, she leaves the audience in awe and mesmerised by what the human body can do. The joy she has on her face when performing is infectious and her smile brings happiness to many. Sofia has had the opportunity to compete in many competitions in and around Ukraine and had the chance to appear on some TV shows showcasing her incredible talent. Below are her responses.

Sofia’s responses translated using Google Translate

How long have you done contortion for?

I have been engaged in contortion since the age of 4

How did you start contortion?

I started practicing myself, then my mother opened a studio, a school since we did not have any gymnastics sections in the city and now I am training with my mother

How often do you train and for how long?

In the training hall I train three times a week, the rest of the time is home training every evening.

What is your best contortion experience?

I am the winner of many awards. I have more than 200 medals, more than a hundred cups. Broke the record of the country – the maximum number of acrobatic elements. 111 unique elements

Q&A With Russian Contortionist Alesya Laverycheva

I recently had joy of asking world renowned, Russian contortionist Alesya Laverycheva some questions about her phenomenal career as one of the world’s best contortionists. Alesya is an amazing contortionist and when she takes to the stage and performs and showcases her astounding skills, she leaves the audience in awe and mesmerised by what the human body can do. The joy she has on her face when performing is infectious and her smile brings happiness to many. Alesya has had the opportunity to travel the world performing, from China to her homeland of Russia. She also has had the opportunity to work with some of the worlds best contortionists over the years. Below are her responses.

Alesya’s responses translated using Google Translate

How long have done contortion for?

I have been studying contortion since my childhood from the age of 7 or 8, I do not remember exactly and I still do it.

How did you start contortion?

I would say this is natural flexibility. It was easy for me at training) I was engaged in a circus studio)

How often do you train and for how long?

I personally do not train every day, because I think that the body should also rest, for example, I study Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s, there are also big breaks. The time i train for varies depending on how I feel and what I’m doing. I also do things differently for the feeling when I can practice for 2 hours, when I can 1 hour, or when they go through the photo sessions that whole day.

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

I often like my favorite tricks. I like triple folds.

What has been your best contortion experience?

In photo sessions I learn that I can get stronger that I do not know about it myself 😀 I really like the flexibility and what I do. This is probably a gift and everyone has their own. It’s my contortion skills

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

The goal of a dream is to try something new

 

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Q&A With Chilean Contortionist Fernando Gonzalez Arismendi

I recently had the chance to ask Fernando Gonzalez Arismendi about his journey as a contortionist, he’s an amazing contortionist. His dedication and passion for contortion is incredible. Below are his responses.

Instagram: fertwisted

Facebook: FerTwisted

How long have done contortion for?

I’ve been training almost ten years.

How did you start contortion?

I started to do contortion because one day, I went to a circus and I saw a very flexible couple doing aerial silks. I felt very inspired because that was a magic moment. After it, I was training splits and oversplits about three years, but when I was 12 years old I thought: “I need backbends” So, my first backbend was a bridge and I loved it. That was the moment when I decided to break my limits. Nobody taught me, so as you can see, I’m self-taught contortionist.

I have a secret with my training method. I think that the secret is in the hours that you stretch haha! So well, I stretch and warm up over 3 hours per day!! But in performances I stretch and warm up almost 30 minutes!

How often do you train and for how long?

I have a secret with my training method. I think that the secret is in the hours that you stretch haha! So well, I stretch and warm up over 3 hours per day!! But in performances I stretch and warm up almost 30 minutes!

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

My favorite contortion move is the headsit. I love to sit in my head, basically for the people’s reaction!! I love it!

What has been your best contortion experience?

My favorite moment in my entire life was in 2014 and 2017 when I became as the most flexible man of Chile. Won that was very emotional. But well I also appeared in tv shows, festival shows, international competition (I placed 7th), tv programs, circuses, events.

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

My big dream is go outside of my country to perform. I would like to perform around the world!

Q&A With Albanian Contortionist Manushaqe Mücke (Manuelle)

I recently had the chance to ask Manushaqe Mücke some questions about her incredible journey as one of the world’s best contortionists. Manushaqe can do some incredible poses and moves such as the marinelli bend. She is one of the only contortionists in the world to shoot a bow and arrow with her feet while holding the marinelli bend. Her passion and love for contortion is phenomenal. She has had opportunities to appear on numerous TV shows showcasing her amazing skills.

Website: Manuelle-Contortion

How long have done contortion for?

I start the Circus School in Albania when I was 11 years old, With Contortion I start at 14 something like this but I was very flexible before.

How did you start contortion?

I started for fun and with time it became something that I love to do and I’m never tired working contortion and having fun.

How often do you train and for how long?

I train everyday 2 or 3 hour per day

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

I have many favourite move, they are all favourite hahaha

What has been your best contortion experience?

The best contortion experience was Las Vegas

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

Oh, I have many dreams we will see what comes I’m working in some new contortion move and a new act.

Q&A With Russian Contortionist Yana Blotskaya

I recently had the chance to ask Yana Blotskaya some questions about her amazing journey as a contortionist. Yana previously spent many years as a Rhythmic gymnast where her incredible flexibility was unearthed. Recently Yana has focused her time on one of her passion Contortion. Her main inspirations are Jordan McKnight and Alexey Goloborodko. Her flexibility is incredible and the skies the limit for Yana. Horse riding and Rap music are some of Yana’s other hobbies. Below are her responses.

How long have done contortion for?

I’ve done contortion since I was 11 y.o.

How did you start contortion?

I started contortion because my friends do it

How often do you train and for how long?

I train every day.2-3 hours

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

I haven’t got favorite trick

What has been your best contortion experience?

My best contortion experiences happen when I train in the kid grounds

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

My goal is do contortion as long as possible, get a lot of followers, become famous and do my own rap songs

Q&A With Ukrainian Contortionist Elizaveta Chursina

I recently had the chance to ask the amazing Ukrainian contortionist Elizaveta Chursina some questions about her life as a contortionist. She is an incredible contortionist who works incredibly hard and always strives to be the best performer she can be. She has a variety of different acts from Hola Hoops to Duo acrobatics to table contortion routine. She is one of the best contortionists ever and always has a smile on her face while performing.

Instagram: lizachursina1234 & elizaveta_lunaa

How long have done contortion for?

I started to be engaged in contortion from 5 years old.

How did you start contortion?

I felt that I had a flexible back and decided to try contortion.

How often do you train and for how long?

I train five times a week for about three to four hours.

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

My favorite contortion element is a triple fold.

What has been your best contortion experience?

I take part in various festivals and concerts. I like to perform.

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

I want to continue to work in various circuses of the world. Travel. Share your experience. To give master classes.

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Q&A With Amazing Contortionist HeeJin Diamond

I recently had the opportunity to ask the amazing Mongolian contortionist Heejin Diamond some questions about her wonderful career as a contortionist.

How long have done contortion for?

I started contortion when I was 6 years old.

How did you start contortion?

In Mongolia, contortion is a big traditional discipline. My mother said i was 5 years old when I discovered contortion by watching TV. It was like a flash on me that suddenly I wanted to make the same things. After lot of times by bending myself in living room, my parents inscribed me in contortion school to calm me, they thought it was just a desire in transient. The passion never leaved me.

13 years old, I started to be professional and marked the start of international tours all by continuing my elementary school.

How often do you train and for how long?

I rehearse minimum 2 hours if I am not on the stage.

When I work every day like now from last year, I rehears 1 hour in the morning and I do 1 hour of warming up before going on the stage.

I also have my ballet class once per week and I also do pole dance class because it’s technically so amusing for me.

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

I am also handstand artist. I mostly like the research of hand standing and movements which procure me more sensation. Play with the gravity and hand standing is more creative for me.

What has been your best contortion experience?

I think it was the creation of my first solo act Snow Queen. With my husband who accompanied me in my all projects, we passed entire year to design and create it. That was like our first baby, LOL

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

There is a lot, thanks god. Being artist is a performant war of the new dreams and challenges.

I just opened my studio (Diamond Studio) in the center of Paris where I form professional artists, I work on the creation of two new acts, I work every night in Paradis Latin, one of the most beautiful Cabarets in Paris built by Gustave Eiffel and I turn around with my 3 different acts… I don’t live my life I dream it.

 

Contortionist in Focus: Alina Ruppel

If there is ever a Mount Rushmore or Hall of Fame of contortionists, the first name that would come to find in 2018 would have to be Alina Ruppel. This young German woman single handily changed contortion with her natural abilities. She’s even reached the point where a pose/move was named after her because she invented it and is the only person to be able to do it.

A Superstar is found

Alina faced struggles as an infant and a young child, she was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy, with the initial diagnoses was she could possibly be confined to a wheelchair. Movement was a struggle early on however as she grew and got stronger it became less of an issue. Contortion actually helped Alina strengthen her muscles. At the age of 9, Alina’s mother discovered her abilities and began training her. In 2009 Early on in her training, Alina trained under the guidance of legendary German contortion and gymnastics coach Gerd Rasquin and also her mother. At this stage, Alina’s incredible skills were quite apparent and very quickly the Ruppel Backbend was created. To this day, only a handful of contortionists have been able to replicate this move, all to differing results compared to Alina. For it to be a perfect Ruppel Backbend, the legs must be straight with the shoulders through the legs.

Failure leads to success

In 2007 Alina Ruppel auditioned for Das Supertalent (Germany’s got Talent) she was unsuccessful at progressing past the audition however this only spurred her on to continue to improve. In 2013 Alina attended the International Contortion Convention in Germany along with her mother where she performed her cabaret show which wowed audiences and even had the media bending over backwards to talk to her about her insane flexibility.

Eliza is born

In 2015 Alina partnered with Steffen Gunthel where he assisted her with developing her new act called “Eliza” and also developed a website that would rival that of Zlata.de, Flexilady.com where she originally used the alias Malina. It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but there was no denying the website showcased Alina’s extreme flexibility and incredible talent. 2016 saw Alina travel to Las Vegas for the 2016 International Contortion Convention where she performed for those in attendance. Yet again she mesmerised the audience and media with her incredible flexibility and skills, her repertoire had grown to include the Marinelli bend. Alina continued to collaborate with Steffen on the new website, Alina also made a few television appearances in recent years, notably along side Ukrainian contortionist Ruslana Krutas on Dutch TV where they competed against each other. They both appeared in a handful of videos together for Flexilady.com.

Golden Girl

In 2017, Alina auditions for Das Supertalent again, this time with her Eliza routine. She got a “Yes” from all three judges and she even received the gold buzzer which sent her straight through to the finals. All of the judges were amazed at her abilities and were near speechless.

 

Taking over the world one Ruppel BB at a time

2018 saw the departure of Alina from Flexilday.com, due to a personal decision of Alina’s. Thus, meaning the site no longer received new content. Contortion lovers can still marvel at Alina’s incredible abilities by looking through her archival of videos and photos thanks to Steffen. Also, in 2018 Alina travelled to the USA to audition for America’s got Talent. This will go to air sometime in June where she will no doubly raise the eyebrows of the judging panel, Howie Mandel my turn away in fear if any other contortion auditions are to go by. Alina continues to train incredibly hard and still have the title of one of the worlds most flexible people.

Alina’s mother believes it’s important that Alina performs because it’s a gift and her talent should flourish so that people are able to see her and get joy from seeing her beauty with their own eyes.

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Q&A With Otgo Waller

I posed the following questions to incredible Mongolian contortionist and contortion coach Otgo Waller.

At the age of 7 years old, a young Otgo started doing contortion and by the age of 13, she was one of the best in the world. In 1991 she joined Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey circus which lead her to the USA. Otgo now lives in Las Vegas where she teachers contortion using her patented teaching method. She is the creator and owner of Flexible Body Art LLC technique and school. Otgo is also a published author of her memoir ” “Twisted Tales: My Life as a Mongolian Contortionist”, Otgo details her life as a Mongolian contortionist in the grasp of a socialist country, she escaped a morose childhood and transformed herself into a world famous performer.

How long have done contortion for?

I been contortionist for 40 years.

How did you start contortion?

I saw my coach on TV when I was 7 years old, after watching her I want to be a contortionist

How often do you train and for how long?

I train my self 5 days a week for 1 hour.

What is your favourite contortion move/trick?

All of the contortion tricks and moves are beautiful so I can’t say I have favorite

What has been your best contortion experience?

My best experience is; I am still performing

What is your ultimate contortion goal/dream?

I reached all my goals and dreams and I am very proud of it.