Felicity says contortion is a skill of bending one’s body into strange and unnatural positions for entertainment— or simply known as body flexibility art.
She observes that usually being a contortionist involves training from a tender age— from four years and above.
But she adds that sometimes if one is as lucky as being naturally flexible like her, consistent practice for strength and safety are key.
“I started practicing when I was 20 years old and because there are no schools of flexibility here, I started on my own in 2019. Otherwise I only ‘played’ around when I was eight,” she says.
Felicity’s talent has earned her some pocket money as she performs at events on invitation.
She said: “I have performed at about five events for a minimum of K50 000. If a need arises for me to showcase my skills somewhere— be it at an event, music video or any function decent enough to showcase my skills— I do it at a cost of K100 000.”
Of course, such a rare form of art has a fair share of unusual reactions as Felicity admits to both shocking and scaring crowds.
Last year in November, she performed at a farewell party organised by Smile Life Insurance Company.
The artist says she recently performed with Tamba Africa Social Circus from Zimbabwe on a project called dance and music for healing at Madsoc Theatre in Lilongwe.
It brought together a mixture of Malawi and Zimbabwe culture, showcasing traditional dances and music.
Other places she has performed are Petit Paris Restaurant, Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre and Tumaini Festival 2021 in Dowa.
But apart from the monetary benefit, Felicity notes that stretching one’s body to become supple offers many physical benefits.
“Such training allows for easier and deeper movements while building strength and stability. Stretching your muscles and joints also leads to greater range of motions, improved balance and increased flexibility,” says the contortionist.
And the essence of body strength and flexibility, according to the young woman, is the ability to withstand physical stress.
Plus, Felicity asserts on the riddance of muscle imbalances, which reduces one’s chances of injuries during physical activity.
She observes: “Correcting muscle imbalances requires a combination of strengthening the underactive muscles and stretching the overactive [tight] ones.
“Your body is likely to feel better overall once you work on lengthening and opening your muscles. When your muscles are looser and less tense, you’ll experience fewer aches and pains. Plus, you are less likely to experience muscle cramps.”
In addition, the flexibility artist says contortion improves posture and balance because working out your body allows for proper alignment and corrects any imbalances.
Again, with an increased range of motion, Felicity says sitting or standing in certain ways becomes easier.
“Regularly stretching and opening up your body results in relaxation. The physical benefits are a relaxed state of mind. You may find it easier to unwind once your body feels better,” she says.
Other benefits are physical fitness from strengthened muscles and improved physical performance from increased flexibility.
Felicity says for one to be able to bend their bodies depends on body type and frequency of practice and patience. Otherwise, it doesn’t have a specific time because of different body flexibilities.
She adds: “Contortion relates to yoga as a physical, spiritual and mental exercise. Therefore, you will find common poses in yoga as in contortion just that the latter is a deep flexibility.”
Felicity, 22, is the first born of three children in her family.
She lives in Manyowe Township, Blantyre and studied for a diploma in journalism and media studies at the continuing education center then Polytechnic, now Maalwi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas).
The yet-to-graduate student is also a yoga and flexibility trainer, running a small second hand sports outfits and shoes business.
She aspires to become an actress and grow her business.