Manuela Mücke (née Mullahi)is a contortionist and acrobat, born in Tirana, Albania as the third daughter of a non artist-family. She began her career at the National States Circus of Albania (Cirku Kombëtar) in Tirana at the age of nine years. This institution, which is only for the most talented artists of Albania, enjoys a very high reputation in Eastern Europe and it was an honor for Manuela to be trained at and later to perform for the National Circus for many years.
During her apprenticeship it became obvious that Manuela was much more flexible than any other student. During this time she began a special training to become a fully trained contortionist with a variety of shows. After finishing her apprenticeship, she worked as a professional artist for the National States Circus in Tirana for seven years. When she left the circus, she was a big star in Albania, known for her beautiful shows and presentations.
In the year 2000 Manuela Mücke left Albania to gain more experience in Europe, travelling with various circuses and show companies in Italy and other parts of Europe until 2013.
In 2013, Manuela moved to Germany, where she decided to improve her skills by taking additional training included lessons in Choreography and Dance as well as learning additional languages.
Under the guidance different coaches, Manuela took on learning new contortion elements, training every day to create new poses, tricks, and elements for a completely new show.
Amongst these new tricks, Manuela learned to shoot a balloon in a contortion pose on a so called Marinelli Toothstand. Both tricks are normally performed separately. Either the Arrow & Bow Trick or the Marinelli Trick.
Manuela is the only artist WORLDWIDE to perform this highly difficult combination in a single pose or trick!
The art of contortion goes back to the early years of the Egyptian pharaohs,who enjoyed to entertain their guests at their court with contortion acts. Ancient sculptures and murals have been found and are now exhibited in various museums around the world. The art of contortion differs between “back-benders” and “front-benders”.
Manuela Mücke is one of the most talented contortionists in the world, and will answer us some questions about her art.
How was your story of becoming a contortion artist? What was your biggest challenge and how you overcame it?
It started from the very childhood, because I always was a very active child. I loved to do everything with arts mostly dancing and some acrobatic things. My parents could see my energy and they bought me to the State Circus school from Albania. Cause of my interests in dancing i also did some ballet lessons.
In the circus school my teachers saw my talent for flexibility so we decide in the age of 13 to to train me as a contortionist. After 2 years with 15 i start to work as a contortionist in the national State Circus of Albania.
My biggest challenge was to learn the Marinelli Toothstand. It took me 2 years practicing every day to learn this difficult trick. In the age of 16 finally i could perform this trick first time in my show.
How was your creative process of developing your own style as an artist?
I never belong to that kind of people who have only one style. I always love to change, to create, to work with creative people. For me it’s more interesting to work with creative things and do something new, change the music, change the style or change the numbers. For my opinion it’s a little bit boring to do the same sequence all the time. So i’m open to create new things.
So I don’t have any specific style and for me it’s important to make the bookers and the audience happy. I often create specific acts for the customers to fit better in the theme of the show.
How does your usual day look like? How long and how often do you train and stretch?
Usually every day I do at least a few hours of training for myself and I work in adicione as a coach at the Zirkus Paletti in Mannheim. Before the performances I need around 1 hours warm-up. This hour is for stretching and to prepare my body for the act.
Do you have some special eating habits? Are you vegetarian or vegan?
Actually I’m not vegetarian but I eat mostly healthy food. I try to drink much water and eat lot of vegetables. But if I feel that I want some sweets i will eat it anyway. So as you can see i can’t live without chocolate :-P.
How do you prepare for the show?
The whole preparation with style, hair, warm-up takes around 2 hours before the show. 1 Hours are warm-up and 1 hours is hair and makeup. After the performance I finish with some exercises and stretching.
So you usually don’t have to choose the music. When you can choose your music how is your process of choice?
It always depends in which kind of project i am working for. In Galas mostly i use my music created by Thosten Dewald. But i also love to work with live music. But to be honest i find that searching for the perfect song is probably the most frustrating and time consuming part of creating a new piece. I spend hours and hours researching different artist/composers/videos ect. It can be very difficult to find a song that has all the components you need or want in one song.
How did you come up with the idea to combine the Marinelli Toothstand with the Arrow & Bow Trick and how did you practice it?
I learned the Arrow & Bow Trick at Corpus Akrobatik In Amsterdam by training every day. During the training it comes in my mind to try the Arrow & Bow Trick in the Marinelli Toothstand just for fun. It comes up as a cool trick and after a lot of training with Corpus Akrobatik i was able to perform this trick the first time in a christmas Gala in Germany 2013. So always remember you just need to try and see what you really wants to do. Only passion for your job will bring you further and to good results.
What do you think is the most important to be a good artist?
The most important is to love what you do. Because if you love what you do on stage people will recognize your passion and they will love it. Shure some talent is also important but without any passion it doesn’t matter which kind of tricks you show or how strong or flexible you are the people will be just bored. That’s why you should work with passion and control every step you make.
The aerial hoop (also known as the lyra, aerial ring or cerceau/cerceaux) is a circular steel apparatus (resembling a hula hoop) suspended from the ceiling, on which circus artists may perform aerial acrobatics. It can be used static, spinning, or swinging.
Manuela Mücke decided to use the Aerial hoop as her second show act because the aerial hoop act benefits from a strong flexibility and she will answer us some questions about it.
How do you create your choreographies and transitions?
For the graduation at the National Circus School in Albania I had to perform two acts. Already there I decided to perform the Aerial hoop as second act. My act took about two years of developing sequences and transitions. It was a combination of exploring and training for hours and hours.
Now, I´m very happy with this act. I can adapt it for different shows and songs. Sometimes I switch around the sequences or specific tricks within a sequence. Most of the time I have three sequences within a number of which I can switch the order. I recorded myself when i’m training quite often because i am my worst critic. When I create new transitions, I try to make them as fluid as possible.
What are the best flexibility exercises for the chest stand on the hoop?
Training contortion on the ground is a great way to increase your flexibility in the air. Holding chest stands and learning how to breathe in this pose can help a lot to increase your flexibility. My secret for warming up my back quickly is stretching with a foam roller. I warm up my bridges and chest stands with it in my back so it takes the pressure off my muscles. I also do chest stands elevated so my chest is higher than my feet. This increases the flexibility in your upper back.
You have a very innovative and dynamic style. Could you give some advice for dynamic transitions on the hoop?
It’s important to find your own style and way to move on a hoop. Many artists have similar skills but it is the transitions into each or way of moving on a hoop that makes it so unique. Once you know how to manipulate a hoop it’s all about exploring your own different possibilities. Sometimes you can get stuck moving in the same way. At that moment its best to either leave it alone for a little while until you can come back with a fresh take or ask for an outside eye. Sometimes it can take months to figure out a “new” transition and other times it happens right away. Watching videos is a great way for inspiration.
Manuela Mücke has several contortion acts ready to perform at your corporate and private events, galas, circus shows or happenings.
Have a look at the media section to see additional acts and shows she performed. She is always open to perform with live music! In case there is a band, an orchestra or singer in the same event, please let us know. We could create a great collaboration. Upon request we can send you all information.