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Published on May 29th, 2010 | by Yellow Magpie


Extreme Contortion: Continuing An Age-Old Artform

Flexibility. The key word in any contortionist’s vocabulary. The ability to flex one’s body and bend in ways that the average human just cannot is what fascinates people. Putting your body in extreme positions requires hours of dedicated practice and hard work.

Contortion dates back millenia. Although contemporary society associates contortion with mainly women, history notes that both men and women were equal practitioners of the art form.

There are two main types of contortion: Frontbending and backbending.

Frontbending is where the contortionist moves their head down to their abdomen or farther. While backbending is the opposite, the contortionist bends their upper-body backwards, so that there head comes in contact with their buttocks or even their feet.

Here are the famous Ross Sisters performing at their best in the film Broadway Rhythm.

Most contortionists can either frontbend or backbend. The videos above are examples of each kind. Can you tell the difference?

Occasionally, there are some people who are so flexible they can both frontbend and backbend.

Zlata is one such person.

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