Contortionism has been a tradition in Mongolia for hundreds of years, and is a common act in Mongolian and Chinese circuses. It was first performed as part of the traditional Buddhist Tsam dances and has been incorporated into many Mongolian plays. It has come to be considered as an art rather than an acrobatic act, and famous contortionists become national celebrities.
The Mongolian style of contortion is marked by its focus on grace of movement and fluidity over feats of joint strength or extension.
Mongolian contortionism is widely considered more of an art than an acrobatic feat. Students of contortion often begin training as early as age five in order to prepare their joints and ligaments to withstand the rigorous physical demands of performing, reaching a peak performance age in the late teens to mid-twenties. Most students will study for four to five years before they are considered a professional contortionist, at which point many strive towards national fame at home, or increasingly with one of the elaborate stage circuses that tour abroad.
Mongolian National Song and Dance Academic Ensemble