The thought of contortion conjures images of Cirque du Soleil, unbelievable body positions, and a mix of the avant-garde and the absurd. Jonathan Nosan’s take on contortion—known as CONTORTURE—makes this incredible art form accessible and instructional for everyone. CONTORTURE, according to Nosan, is “a new method of conscious mobility helping industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts gain maximum flexibility,” that incorporates both acrobatics and stretching to gain deeper flexibility. Though Nosan grew up with a juggling and magic shows background as a youth, he seriously considered contortion upon seeing a Cirque du Soleil performance while on a Fulbright scholarship in Japan, at 22 years old. With no prior dance, acrobatic, or flexibility experience, Nosan decided to make a drastic career switch, and four years later, Nosan began a new career as an international performing artist. In the last twenty years, he has performed with some of the best acrobatic performers all over the world, and in the last ten, he has created his own niche in the circus world, training and teaching his CONTORTURE workshops everywhere from Circus Warehouse NYC to International Contortion Conventions in Las Vegas and Zurich. He has forged a career, in addition to performing, that focuses on training professionals and adults with little to no experience with flexibility at all.
Last week, I was lucky enough to take one of his CONTORTURE classes. Nosan is charismatic, hilarious, and serious about his students. As a first-timer with little flexibility, I found this to be the perfect combination in a teacher. During the class, he came around to every single student to keep pushing, adjusting, and physically extending each of us to our own extreme. The great thing about this class, and his method, is how he uses contortion to rethink movement and retrain our neurological pathways to create new stretches. His demonstrations were fast and fluid, as he seamlessly contorted like some kind of supernatural creature.
CONTORTURE is a mix of, as Nosan calls it, “funny and fearsome,” but his method capitalizes on fun and moves away from fear. With this type of art, it’s as much brain training as it is body training, in the sense that, as students, our CONTORTURE is unique to us, whatever extreme we are destined for. By the end of the class I was completely exhausted; every minute of that hour and a half was about pushing our bodies through different positions, and ensuring our bodies go further and further to then push ourselves beyond how far we think we can go. We went from lunges to headstands to back bends, bridges, and more. By the end of the class, I was exhausted, sweaty, and felt as though my limbs were noodles—all without having left my mat.
As a performer, Nosan combines a little of post-modern Japanese dance, theater, and pseudo new circus into his acts. He trains professional circus performers, dancers, and everyone in between. To help make this performing art more accessible, he has also created five unique CONTORTURE videos: the first three focus on basic training, inversions, and how to do it all safely and on our own, within a class setting. The fourth video contains movements with more intense, weighted flexibility, and the final video is advanced contorture, breaking down extreme moves he does in performance pieces. These videos are precise, intimate, and informative, with the added benefit of being in your own home and comfort zone. Anyone can use these videos without having to take the class: Train on your own, and he can guide you virtually.
CONTORTURE is definitely not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to push yourself to your limit, beyond where you think you can go, and then push even further. But, Nosan is there every step of the way, to ensure your success is safe, secure, and fun.
So, what are you waiting for?
Twisted Talk: Would you ever try out a Contorture class? What do you think of this concept? Discuss below!