Mongolian children stretch for success
PLENTY of kids enjoy playing sport after school. Some attend dance classes and others do gymnastics but few would be happy putting in the hours some children from faraway Mongolia do.
Nine-year-old schoolgirl SuvdErdene spends four hours a day perfecting the art of doing a headstand on a pole clenched with her teeth and push-ups without her feet touching the ground.
She and about a dozen team mates are training in a basement in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, to be contortionists.
This is an art that Mongolians say was developed in the palace of 13th century warlord and national hero Genghis Khan.
Usually performed by females, contortionism involves twisting and stretching the body to the extreme.
Little Suvd-Erdene makes the moves look easy. That is because she has done years of training since she began with intensive stretching exercises at the age of 6.
“I cried when my teacher made me do the stretching exercises, at that time I felt really discouraged,” she said.
The girls are given time off school to train under the guidance of 22-year-old Urangoo, whose family have been contortionists for three generations.
Urangoo took up training kids after her own hopes of hitting the big time and performing abroad ended when she suffered an injury at the age of 12.
Mongolian contortionists are in high demand.
They may enjoy international careers if they are lucky enough to be spotted by scouts from theatres and circuses.
Suvd- Erdene’s teammate, Shinezul, said becoming a contortionist is also a matter of national pride.
“It’s the Mongolian people’s dream to introduce Mongolian national culture and art to the whole world, so that’s why I want to be the best contortionist in the world,” she said. – Reuters
Suvd-Erdene, 9, is training to be a contortionist. It may look hard, but because of their training young children are able to twist their bodies like this.