Friday, January 04, 2008

Contortions between man and beast

From the horrific human pythons to the repulsive dislocators

Contortionists or "posturers" have been regularly populating the stage since XV century; in 1733 William Hogarth portrayed in "The Southwark Fair" the fairground booth of prestidigitateur extraordinaire, Isaac Fawkes, who used to share his bill with a young posturer (probably to fulfill an acceptable hour or so of entertainment).
About a century later, the mutation started from the realm of mere body contorsion to the mutation towards the animal kingdom. 1n 1828, contortionist-dancer Mazurier started in Paris the whole thing with the ballet "Jocko, or the Monkey from Brasil", where snakes and monkey skins were inhabited by the most flexible human bodies of their time.
In Germany and France, a long series started of man-monkeys, man-snakes, or man-crocodiles, etc, reaching the top in the British music-hall after 1900.

The star was without doubt Marinelli, the human python, who later turned himself into a music-hall agent (representing, among other, the clairvoyant Hanussen).

We will unveil for you more of those pictures in the future.
Today contorsionism seems a speciality of mongolian or chinese girls: grace and beauty replaced the repulsion and strangeness of the animal evocation.
But some extraordinary performer survive, turning the art of contortionism into the most strange one of dislocation. For exemple, our friend Vadim Pechinski (a Latvian based in Italy) shows you in this video of his act a way to practice this art as you never imagined to witness.

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