My life as a contortionist

I was 11, maybe 12 years old, when I first realised I could be a contortionist.
I grew up in Ulan Bator, the biggest city in Mongolia. In Mongolia, over the last 40 years, many more girls want to become contortionists, like girls over here go to gymnastics or ballet. Some of the world's top acts come from my country, performing everywhere from the Bolshoi in Russia to Monte Carlo and Cirque du Soleil.
I was inspired by watching my aunt Ione. She is a wonderful contortionist, very clever and elegant, and I wanted to be like her. I have idolised her since I was little and I always wanted to do this, to follow in her footsteps.
My auntie helps me a lot, still, with my act - she is always there to advise me on how to do things better. She is married to Beau, who runs Zippo's Circus, and she is very helpful to me as I travel round the country with them.
Travelling around the world was my dream. I wanted to be able to see places and experience things and, in particular, I wanted to come to the United Kingdom.
I have travelled all over the United Kingdom and have performed in Switzerland, too, and I love it. I love life with the circus, the people are very friendly and helpful and the audiences are wonderful. (Scottish audiences are the best, of course.)
I remember my very first show, in Turkey, when I was quite nervous. It all went so fast, though, once I went into the ring, that I hardly had time to be scared. Now I am never nervous when I perform. It makes me very happy, doing what I do, and it is good fun.
I have no idea what I will do when I am no longer working as a contortionist. I do not like to think about it, I just want to keep working. It is hard work, staying supple, but so far I do not feel as if it is any harder now, as I get older, than it ever has been. But I have to practise and practise, all the time.
I have to train every day, doing exercises like handstands, splits and press-ups, to build up my strength, flexibility and balance.
This year, I have added a new trick to my act - I fire an arrow from a bow, with my feet, while I am doing a handstand. It is a trick I taught myself. I always want to do exciting things, new things, that keep the audiences impressed.
I can also wrap myself up into a bottle. I am tall, at five foot eight inches, and it is quite a small bottle. That is how I make my entrance, into the ring - I'm Odka, the girl in the bottle. Audiences love it.
Being part of Zippo's Circus is incredible. Sometimes, after the shows, the little girls who have been watching me come to meet me and show me how they can bend and move. I see them practising and it is lovely to think I inspire them.
Contortionists work hard to impress. I think people are fascinated by us, because we do things that no-one else can do - we achieve what seems impossible.
Zippo's Circus is at Queen's Park Recreation Ground until Sunday and then Victoria Park from June 16 until 21, Battery Park in Greenock from June 23 to 28, Zetland Park in Grangemouth fom June 29 until July 1 and then touring Scotland. See


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