November 12, 2010

Zlata the Contortionist (18PL)

Zlata the Contortionist

At the age of four Zlata discovered she had an amazing talent - and she has been bending over backwards ever since to make the most of it.

The Russian-born former gymnast, 24, is one of the world's most extreme contortionists.

At 5ft 9ins and weighing just eight and a half stone, Zlata spends most of her day working out and training for shows around the world.

Keeping chilled: Zlata, 24, holds on to her feet inside a fridge. The contortionist has been performing her unique act for 10 years

In one of her favourite acts she bends herself backwards at a perfect 90 degree angle - virtually cutting herself in half so the back of her hands touch her heels.

And she thinks nothing of casually pulling her legs up behind her and hooking them over her shoulders to land on the floor beside her hands.

She can even squeeze herself into boxes just 50cms squared.

Heels over head: A former gymnast, Zlata said she gave up the sport after she was picked on by other girls at school

Zlata said: 'Doing these poses just feels very natural to me. Sometimes it can get a bit uncomfortable if I have to hold a pose for a long time in photo shoots.

'But I think that's like anyone who sits down for a long time - their muscles get stiff.

'I don't really diet but I have to train very hard to keep my muscles in shape and to be as flexible as possible.'

Sitting pretty: Zlata has a rare condition which means her tendons are extremely pliable, allowing her to adopt painful-looking positions for lengthy periods of time

Zlata has a rare condition that makes all her tendons extremely pliable, allowing her to adopt seemingly back-breaking positions.

But Zlata, who now lives in Germany, wasn't always applauded for her contortionist ability.

She first started experimenting with her talent after her pre-school teacher asked her to create a bridge - where you stand on your hands and feet with your back arched - and she outshone her classmates.

She admits other girls her age were jealous of her and would pick on her at school.

'In Russia being flexible is a very good thing to be because everyone is really into gymnastics,' she explained.

'Some of the other girls didn't like how good I was.'

Flexible: The contortionist can bend herself at a perfect 90 degree angle

Zlata turned her back on gymnastics and joined an after school circus instead where she learnt the art of contortionism.

She added: 'As soon as I started doing it I was addicted and I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.'


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