An incredibly pliable woman who can fold up so her buttocks sit on her head has admitted that some of her friends can’t stand watching because “it makes them sick”.
And Anastasia Evsigneeva, 28, said just the thought of practicing her contortions could give her worried husband Andrey Kashaed, 32, a headache.
Hyperflexible native Anastasia, who grew up in southern Russia and now lives in Winnipeg, Canada, began practicing backbends at home while doing household chores like peeling potatoes, typing on the computer, or even filing her nails.
She said, “It’s a good time saver – there are never enough hours in a day to practice and work on my art and do homework.
“It’s not what I usually practice, but I have a very busy schedule and sometimes I have to do things at the same time.”
To make the most of her time, Anastasia also publishes videos of herself in which she combines tasks and training Instagram page.
She laughed: “24 hours is not enough!”
She continued to hone her skills, taking only three days to learn the Marinelli Bend – widely regarded as one of the most dangerous and difficult positions in which the performer carries her entire body weight on her mouth and then bends until she is up the back sits off of her own head.
Anastasia said of the scary step, “There is a risk of death. People can injure their necks, and that can injure the spinal cord, making it very dangerous. “
She added, “My coach warned my husband that people died in the process and he was pretty scared.”
And she revealed, “People are seeing it for the first time and making comments like,” Does she even have bones? “
“I get all kinds of reactions, from disgust and repulsion to shock, surprise and admiration.”
She continued, “Some people can’t even see it. I have a few friends who can’t watch it make them sick.
“My spouse got a headache even though he knew I was practicing because he felt so compassionate for me that he couldn’t take it.”
But Anastasia says the secret to bowing her body is to stay calm.
“It’s almost like doing extreme yoga,” she explained.
“It’s about dealing with fear and fear.
“It’s important to feel very relaxed and calm, but also to feel the energy flowing through you.”
Anastasia, who grew up in Rostov-on-Don, a coastal town in southern Russia, was only five years old when she first realized that her body could make more extreme curves in dance class than her classmates.
She said, “It felt natural and easy. I never had a backache or pain. “
But she didn’t take much notice of her special skills until she was much older and said, “The full realization came when I was 17 and danced in a theater in my hometown.”
She continued: “The choreographer told me not to bend too much more than the others – especially in backbends.”
Anastasia’s first love was more dance than contortion – she seems to take more after her mother Marina, now 58, who is a dancer, than after her father Sergei, 64, a circus performer.
In November 2009 she met software developer Andrey at a birthday party for her cousin in Rostov-on-Don, who married in 2012. The two moved to Canada in 2015 to train at the School of Contemporary Dancers in Winnipeg for four years.
After graduating, she worked as a dancer in around ten productions by other choreographers – before founding her own performance company Moving Roots in June 2020.
But Anastasia found that her hyperflexibility caused problems with dancing.
She said, “As a dancer, I’ve been told many times not to attract attention.”
In order to be able to better use her flexible skills, she also took part in various circus courses in the evenings during her time at the dance school, including since 2016 with the Canadian contortionist Samantha Halas, who also taught her the Marinelli bend in 2020.
“I was curious how far I could go – I guess what is my limit? Can I get past it? ” She said.
Soon she was spending two to four hours a day, six days a week practicing her triple folds, one-armed handstand, and contortionist push-ups – and discovered that housework was a great exercise for her.
She said some of her videos show her demonstration moves that she has already mastered, warning, “I never really practice on kitchen counters.”
But she added, “I really work out in some weird places – I have an office chair that has really good grip for practicing headstands.
“And I did a photo shoot in a friend’s car.”
Anastasia was warned by a concerned Andrey to be careful not to put her toes too close to water boiling in pots when she flexes in her kitchen.
But she said, “I’m pretty confident and don’t think it’s risky.
“I’m very happy with where I put my feet and when something feels very natural it doesn’t feel dangerous.”
In the summer of 2020, Anastasia and her trainer decided she was finally ready to take the Marinelli curve and booked three days of classes with Samantha to improve her skills.
The move requires a special device called a mouthpiece – a leather bite mounted on a metal rod and attached to a wide, immovable base – which the performer holds between the teeth.
Anastasia said: “The mouthpiece belonged to my coach, which she gave me, but I had to have a friend do the booth specifically for me.”
She continued, “It took him a month to make it out of wood and it cost me $ 150 (£ 110).
“And before I could start learning I had to have a coach with me, so it took some time to prepare.”
The first time Anastasia tried, she couldn’t get into the pose from a bridge position – which meant she had to flip her legs instead, which is less stable and more dangerous.
It also gave her gum pain initially – what she described as “like a toothache when you bite something” – but with practice the uncomfortable feeling disappeared.
She continued, “After my three hours, I was unable to fully balance myself, but I was confident enough that I could safely enter and exit the pose to begin practicing on my own.
“In my seventh training session, I took my hands off the floor and performed the full Marinelli turn.”
Now Anastasia is working on keeping the curve longer.
“My record is currently 36 seconds,” she said.
“The world record is four minutes and thirty-eight seconds – which is very seldom possible.”
She added, “I think 36 seconds is a good amount and will keep practicing.”
Fortunately, while some friends can’t stand watching Anastasia do the Marinelli flexion, her spouse has become more relaxed – and his headache is gone.
“He got used to it over time and now he’s more interested in me practicing,” she said.
She continued, “My family is very supportive too.”
Anastasia, who has now devoted herself to building her skills, said: “I like the feeling of being a little different from everyone else.
“It is my duty to keep going and developing my talent.”
She added, “The risk factor and cross-border threat to your life and the extreme ability to perform physically demanding is very well received on social media.”