Program and component
Explore and Create, Professional Development for Artists
Field of practice
Contortionist Deepens and Enriches Their Practice
With support from a Canada Council grant, contortionist Ess Hödlmoser travelled to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to deepen their knowledge of this highly specialized art form.
Studying advanced Mongolian contortion
An award-winning performance artist, Hödlmoser has a unique style and athleticism that has helped them bring disturbing, contorted characters to life in a variety of TV and film productions. In 2019, they travelled from Toronto to Mongolia to pursue specialized, advanced training in contortion under two respected coaches. They focussed on technical skills in foot archery as well as “zubnik”—where the artist takes a backbend position and suspends their entire body weight through their mouth while biting on a piece of leather mounted to a short steel pole.
Exploring a rich cultural history
Hödlmoser also had the opportunity to explore the rich history of contortion and its roots in folk dance at important local sites, exploring spiritualism, animism, history, cultural values, social standards and more. This expanded Hödlmoser’s knowledge of Mongolian contortion and its role in Mongolian culture, deepening their understanding of how it manifests in traditional versus contemporary settings and ultimately enhancing their practice.