They are often entertainers who twist and bend their bodies into strange and unnatural positions. They show their unbelievable physical flexibility in ways one could never imagine. They are known as contortionists.
They can bend forward, bring their feet up around the neck or fold themselves so that their head comes between their legs. Contortionists can also bend their spine in a backward position, enabling them to touch their feet to their head or their head to their buttocks. Besides flexing their spines in incredible ways, they can also bend their arms and legs into unique positions as well.
Contortionists are mostly one of the most physically fit people who use mind, body and breathing exercises during contortionism training while maintaining a daily regimen to preserve or restore health, experts say.
Since the ability to contort the body is not something that everyone has, in Nigeria, some have decided to label contortionists around as witches or sorcerers. Nigerian contortionist Ifeoma Amazobi has said that being able to contort the body is the result of a trait that some people are born with.
While a teenager, she realized the marvelous ways her body could twist and turn. So even though her family wanted her to be a doctor or a lawyer, she decided that she would contort her body to earn income. Her family members were against that, so she was forced to leave her home to follow her heart’s desire.
“There was a lot of discrimination from my parents, people around me, even my mom’s sisters, my dad’s sisters, everyone was just after me. They were like ‘no’, that is not what they want me to be, that I should go to school…but I was like ‘no’. I want to be a contortionist” she told Reuters.
Amazobi has since not regretted taking that decision. After leaving home, she joined a community of 20 contortionists after meeting a member of that group. In February 2020, Amazobi and the group of contortionists wowed a crowd after they performed a show entitled “Limberness” to “win respect to the skill and physicality of their work,” Reuters reported.
People who came to a studio in Lagos to watch Amazobi, who is in her early 20s, and her group showcase their contortion were left stunned. “They still find it hard to believe its real. That’s why we are putting this together for people to see that it is an extreme act and we are also human beings, we are not aliens,” Oyindamola Kolawole, who leads the group, said.
Currently, there are a few contortionist groups from Africa leaving people speechless. In June 2020, a dance group from Guinea, who performed an episode of America’s Got Talent, got judges gobsmacked with their literal bone-breaking and “daredevilly” moves.
Known as The Bonebreakers, the four-man contortionist group while dancing to DJ Snake’s Taki Taki, displayed contortionist stunts, which included a dancer twisting his head almost 360 degrees, leaving judges excited but equally as shocked.
Professional contortionists say that average or healthy people can become contortionists. By hard work and determination, their bodies can become flexible to enable them to showcase some of these stunts.