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.