via: Samantha Halas

“It all began with a focused admiration of Luis Carlos (aka Goido), love at first sight,
dancing capoeira in the streets of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. My heart pounded as I imagined
the fluidity with which he moved his body, flexible, strong, aware. It was not exactly him
that I loved but the physical prowess with which he moved, that which was unfathomable
to me. You could see through his movement a love so deep that it transcended pain and
difficulty. This love has followed me ever since as I began the long and grueling process
to become a Contortionist.

In Winnipeg at that time there were very few people who knew what contortion is and
none who practiced it. I remember thinking that if by living my life I was writing my own
novel then why not take a big risk for the sake of living the most spellbinding story. So
in 2007 I flew to the Beijing International Art School. It was the only school that would
accept me to practice contortion at my age and my inexperience, and they accepted
me not because they believed I would become a great contortionist, but because they
wanted money. At first the teachers were in general very disinterested in me, unless it
was to laugh my inept attempts. But with resilience I taught myself through watching
the children who practiced in the room with me. Finally with rigorous discipline and
many tears shed I had transformed myself and at the end of those 12 months I had even
attracted the attention of a few teachers who began helping me. The Chinese style is
based entirely on technique; the feats they accomplish bend the realities of our own most
powerful imaginations. They accomplish these things through extreme discipline, long
hours of training and repetitions of mind-boggling proportions. The downside however
is there is very little artistry, many of the performers hate the circus and wish for simple
things like to work in a restaurant.

Back in the western hemisphere I trained myself for countless hours, I felt inspired giving
Winnipeg something that people had never seen before. People would stop in their tracks
and drop their jaws because they never knew the human body could be capable of such
feats. If anybody knows about circus here usually it’s Cirque du Soleil, which in fact
represents only one style in the world of circus. I continued to feel drawn to the old and
more traditional styles. This is when I discovered the Mongolian Style of contortion and
Serchmaa Byamba, my coach and favorite contortionist of all time. The Mongolians,
particularly the classically trained ones move in a way so fluid, so graceful, that every
second framed would make a beautiful portrait head to toe. Every detail is finalized; the
pacing remains the same intoxicating controlled and languid movement throughout the
piece. The technique is incredibly high and yet the artistry is saturated throughout the
movements.

Through contortion I have found the most perfect love, I have plunged deeper and
deeper and found more and more profundity. Circus is excelling at the things that make
you different. It is complete devotion. It takes the pain of growth and patience with
injuries, it is loving your body and pushing it to its edge. It is the faith in a possibility of
being able to accomplish something so difficult that it seems barely possible. Sometimes
you have to give up parties, camping trips, watching the shows that you yourself are
part of because you spend so much of your time training. These can feel like big losses
at times and yet that devotion is part of the beauty because you can see it and feel it.

It inspires people about their bodies and frees us if only for a second of the limitations we

have superimposed on our own selves and the human race.”

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