Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is an unusual form of physical display which involves the dramatic bending and flexing of the human body. The human body is the entire physical and mental structure of a Human Organism. Contortion is often part of acrobatics and circus acts. Acrobatics (from Greek Akros, high and bat, walking is one of the Performing arts, and is also practiced as a Sport. A circus is most commonly a traveling company of performers that may include acrobats, Clowns trained animals trapeze acts Hoopers, tightrope walkers
In general, contortionists have unusual natural flexibility, which is then enhanced through gymnastic training. Flexibility is the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints and muscles that is attainable in a momentary effort with the help of a partner or a piece of equipment
Most contortionists are categorized as either frontbenders or backbenders, depending on the direction in which their spine is more flexible. In Human anatomy, the vertebral column ( backbone or spine) is a column of 34 Vertebrae the Sacrum, Intervertebral Relatively few performers are equally adept at bending both frontwards and backwards.
Some of the skills performed by contortionists include:
- Frontbending skills such as folding forward at the waist with the legs straight, or placing one or both legs behind the neck or shoulders with the knees bent (called a human knot). A frontbend is a Contortion position where the body is curved forward at the Hips and spine. They may also pass their body through a ring or barrel while in a forward fold.
- Backbending skills such as touching one's head to one's feet, or all the way to the buttocks (called a head-seat), while standing, lying on the floor, or in a handstand. A Marinelli bend is a backbend while supported only by a grip at the top of a short post that is held in the mouth.
- Splits and oversplits (a split of more than 180 degrees) may be included in frontbending or backbending acts. A Split is a body position in which the legs are parallel to each other and extended in opposite directions The oversplits are basically splits, but instead of being flat on the ground one leg can be pulled higher many times at even a 90 degree angle An oversplit may be performed while the feet are supported by two chairs or by two assistants.
- Enterology is the practice of squeezing one's body into a small, knee-high box or other container which appears to be much too small for a person to fit in.
- Dislocations of the shoulders or hip joints are sometimes performed as a short novelty act by itself. Joint dislocation (Latin luxatio) occurs when bones in a Joint become displaced or misaligned In Human anatomy, the shoulder joint comprises the part of the body where the Humerus attaches to the Scapula. One example is lifting the arm to the side until it passes behind the head and lies across the top of the shoulders.
Types of performances
Ravi the Scorpion Mystic stands on one leg performing his act in Times Square, NYC, 2004
Like other visual arts, a contortion performance can convey any of several emotions, depending on the choreography and costumes that are chosen, as well as the personality and acting skills of the performer. The visual arts are art forms that focus on the creation of works which are primarily Visual in nature such as Painting, Photography See also, Choreography (literally "dance-writing" from the Greek words "χορεία" (circular dance see chorea) and "γραφή" The term costume can refer to Wardrobe and dress in general or to the distinctive style of dress of a particular people class or period Acting is the work of an Actor or Actress, which is a person in Theatre, Television, Film, or any other Storytelling Performers might choose a style that is beautiful, athletic, weird, shocking, sensual, erotic or humorous, and each has fans that prefer that particular style, sometimes to the exclusion of other styles. NOTICE TO WOULD-BE-ROMEOS*************** Humour or humor (see spelling differences) is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke Laughter and provide Amusement
Some special types of performances:
- An adagio act is a slow, acrobatic dance in which the male partner lifts and carries the female partner as she performs splits and other flexible poses. Adagio is the name given to a specific set of partner Acrobalance or acrobalance movements
- In a rag doll or golliwog act, one or two assistants bend, shake and carry the contortionist in such a way as to convince the audience that the disguised performer is actually a limp, life-sized doll. The " Golliwogg " (later " Golliwog " is a Rag doll -like children's literary character created by Florence Kate Upton in the late The act usually ends by stuffing the doll into a small box, after which the performer gets out and takes off the costume.
- A Spanish web is a contortion act that is performed high above the stage while holding on to a loop in a thick soft rope that is hung from the roof. The Spanish web in circus performances involves a long cloth covered rope with a loop attached near the top that a performer climbs and inserts either their foot or their wrist
- Other performers might manipulate props during their performance, such as spin hula hoops or juggle rings, balance towers of wine glasses, sink many pints, or play a musical instrument. Juggling is a physical human skill involving the movement of objects usually through the air for entertainment (see Object manipulation)
A contortionist may perform alone, may have one or two assistants, or from one to four contortionists may perform together as a group.
In the past, contortionists were associated almost exclusively with circuses and fairs, but recently they have also found work performing in nightclubs, amusement parks, in magazine advertisements, at trade shows, on television variety shows, in music videos, and as warmup acts or in the background at music concerts. A nightclub (or "night club" or "club" is a drinking, dancing, and entertainment venue which does its primary business after dark Theme park is the generic term for a collection of rides and other Entertainment attractions assembled for the purpose of entertaining a large group Television ( TV) is a widely used Telecommunication medium for sending ( Broadcasting) and receiving moving Images, either monochromatic A variety show or variety entertainment is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts especially Musical performances and Comedy Skits and A music video is a Short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music most commonly a Song with lyrics In addition, contortion photos and digital movie clips are traded by fans on the Internet, and several web sites provide original photos of contortion acts for a monthly fee, or sell videotapes of performances through the mail.
Many myths and fallacies have been perpetuated about contortionists; most of them are due to the general public's unfamiliarity with human anatomy and physiology, while some are showman's hype that has been invented by the performers themselves or their promoters in order to make the act appear even more mysterious. Anatomy (from the Greek anatomia, from ana separate apart from and temnein, to cut up cut open is a branch of Biology that is the consideration Physiology (from Greek grc φύσις physis, "nature origin" and grc -λογία -logia) is the study of the mechanical physical
- Myth: Contortionists apply snake oil to their joints or drink special elixirs to become flexible. Snake oil is a Traditional Chinese medicine used to treat Joint pain — This was a popular myth in the 19th century when medicine shows hired contortionists to "prove" the effectiveness of their arthritis medicines. Their extreme bending was not actually the result of their patent medicines. Patent medicine is the somewhat misleading term given to various medical Compounds sold under a variety of names and labels though they were for the most part actually Flexibility is the result of either genetics or intense physical training or, more likely, both. This myth has inspired fictional characters like the Elongated Man. The Elongated Man ( Ralph Dibny) is a fictional Comic book Superhero in the DC universe.
- Myth: "Double-jointed" people have more joints than most people do. — Every fully-formed person has exactly the same number of joints. A joint is the location at which two or more Bones make contact "Double-jointed" is just a slang expression used to describe the appearance of a person who can bend much further than one might think a joint would allow a limb to bend. In spite of the origin of the word, it is a perfectly acceptable expression to describe a person who is hypermobile. Hypermobility (also called double-jointedness, hypermobility syndrome or hyperlaxity) describes Joints that stretch farther than is normal
- Myth: Contortionists have to dislocate their joints when they bend unusually far. — Since some loose-jointed people are able to pop a joint out of its socket without pain, it may be hard to tell whether a joint is actually dislocated without an x-ray. However, as long as the joint socket is the right shape, most extreme bends can be achieved without dislocating the joint. Actual dislocations are rarely used during athletic contortion acts since they make the joint more unstable and prone to injury, and a dislocated limb cannot lift itself or support any weight.
- Myth: Contortionists can bend bonelessly in any direction. — The amount of flexibility of every joint in every person varies from below average to extremely flexible, including every degree of flexibility in between. Also, the degree of natural flexibility of one joint in a certain direction does not determine its degree of flexibility in the opposite direction, or the flexibility of other joints in the body. Contortionists can create the illusion of having boneless bodies by specializing in the skills that show off their most flexible joints, with the help of their acting talent and mime skills. An illusion is a distortion of the senses revealing how the Brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation Acting is the work of an Actor or Actress, which is a person in Theatre, Television, Film, or any other Storytelling
- Myth: You are either born a contortionist or you're not. — Muscle flexibility can be acquired with persistent training, as long as the shape of the bones in the joint do not limit the range of motion. Muscle (from Latin musculus, diminutive of mus "mouse" is contractile tissue of the body and is derived from the There are a relatively small number of professional performers who claim they were not unusually flexible before undergoing years of intense training. Those who have naturally flexible joints, however, start out with an advantage, both in knowing that they have an aptitude for contortion, and the amount of flexibility they can eventually achieve.
- Myth: Most contortionists have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of rare Genetic disorders affecting humans caused by a defect in Collagen synthesis — In reality, few contortionists have the condition. EDS is genetic, considered rare, and caused by defective collagen production. One result of this defective collagen production is loose, stretchy ligaments. (Ligaments hold the joints in place. ) Since individuals with EDS have stretchy ligaments, they tend to be more flexible than the general population. In fact, some - but not all - individuals with EDS exhibit extreme flexibility. Another feature of EDS is spontaneous joint dislocations. The dislocations are caused by the ligaments' inability to hold the joints in place due to their stretchy nature. Dislocations can also be performed at will by some, possibly even many, individuals with the condition.
- Myth: Women are more apt to be contortionists than men. — Pictures of contortionists throughout history and around the world, taken as a whole, show nearly equal numbers of males and females. Western contortionists in the late 19th century were mostly men, just as extreme flexibility in modern India is practiced mostly by men. Also, medical studies show that nearly equal numbers of hypermobile males and females are found when the trait runs in the family.
- Myth: Asians are more flexible than Caucasians. — While the art of contortion may be more popular in Eastern cultures, the level of flexibility is more a result of individual variation and training methods than ethnicity. Even though more Asian contortionists are seen on stage, this does not mean Asians are naturally more flexible than Caucasians.
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