We have a strong idea of what the human body looks like, from our natural endowment and from our experience. Contortionists systematically challenge this idea, by transforming the human body into something non-human, until it resembles a creature from another planet. Contortionists then transform the body to and fro across this mental boundary. With the natural beauty of a body, together with the expression of human emotion through movement, and the refinement and delicacy of dance, this makes an emotionally and cognitively devastating combination.

On the 1st to the 3rd of May, 1998, one of the most amazing events ever took place in the little village of Sornewitz, situated between Meissen and Dresden, in Germany. For a fan of contortion, seeing one contortionist is an event to remember. But over this weekend we were treated to over 20 contortionists, and had an unforgettable chance to meet them and their trainers, and to see them perform, and to discuss technique. It was a weekend where my dreams came true.

Sornewitz is a village nestling next to the Elbe. Everywhere is a scene of activity, with the infrastructure being renewed, roads dug up, buildings being repainted and re-stuccoed, and the facilities being installed so as to attract the tourists this area so richly deserves. Wishing wells are being built in the courtyards of former farms, flower pots are out in force, and tasteful arrays of old farm implements are being arranged on walls.

Having lived in Australia for the last several years, I had forgotten how beautiful the European spring is, with masses of blossom between tiny new leaves.

We owed this momentous event to the dynamism of Ska von Schoning, to Tunga, and to Rene and Brigitte Seliger, who made the local arrangements. Here is Ska (centre) with Brigitte (left) and three of Ska's performers, Marcella and Katya of Dali-Da (extreme left and right), and Josephine B. Thank you everyone for giving us an amazing convention!


Below is Tunga at the conference, and seen leading off the procedings on Saturday morning in a discussion session with Gerd Rasquin, renowned trainer of the Hamburger Showsternchen. Here also is a picture of Tunga performing a double Marinelli bend, which she pioneered, and which she said was the most difficult of the contortion acts. To me, it looks absolutely stunning! I admire the incredible courage, as well as of course the incredible skill, of someone who can do this act.


(The double Marinelli bend is from a card by Theo Krath (c) Theo O. Krath 1989.)

Back to the index page, or forward to the next page.