Egyptian HairExclusive for the Daily Bend magazine. Our questions were answered by Andrzej's personal trainer Fiona Dietrich.
I believe what we see in the picture is nothing less than a full 360 degrees oversplit?
Yes. It actually can be further than 360 degrees, depending on how you count. The thighs may be slightly below 360 but the ankles are nearing 450.
Impressive. But I'm sure our audience remembers Andrzej as an exceptional backbender. What inspired the change of repertoire, so to speak?
He is still an exceptional backbender, I give him that. I'm specially proud of that because I used to be a-backbender myself, though I keep saying to everyone that my best achievement in contortionism was to find such an amazing student. It's just that he pretty much reached the limit in backbending, I mean when the butt sits on the shoulders there's not much more you can do, so to increase the stretch further we have to work on the hip joints.
Indeed, I must explain to our new readers who are still learning about contortionism, that it's true that contortionists can only really bend in half backwards. When we see it taken further than that it's because the perfomer's legs are so flexible...
That's correct. The spine is only one part of the backbend, the more significant part is, strangely, the legs. They can be brough under the armpits and further, making it look like the contortionist can bend more than in half backwards. The flexibility of the hip joints is essential to more advanced contortionists and that's what we're working on very intensely at this time.
Andrzej's hip joints seem almost like he's able to dislocate his legs and re-align them at will.
Yes, he's always had very flexible hip joints and could twist his legs this and that way, he used to sit in funny but quite painful looking poses as a child. Before we even started training, he could put his feet behind his own back, as well as stand and twist his feet 180 degrees around and stand like that with his feet pointing the opposite way.
Should we understand it in a way that... well, the true cause of what we see in this picture is actually a certain health condition then?
Oh, no, not at all. Of course, Andrzej was a double-jointed child, he could do quite a few things that very few kids can do naturally, so he was lucky, but oversplits require stretchy hamstrings and that's something he had to get through hours and hours of sweating. It's a different muscle and it took hours of daily stretching for several years.
So practically, Andrzej can use the flexibility of his hip joints for both oversplits and extreme backbends now?
That's the beautiful thing about it. We're catching two hares at once these days because Andrzej's extreme backbending also improves his oversplits and vice versa, so his exercises are very universal now.
How did you get the idea for this picture?
Oh, it wasn't me but our other student Natalya. Her and Andrzej must have made this up in their spare time. These modern Instagram kids, you know... I only helped with the position until Andrzej could get a hold of his feet. I was really surprised to see him wearing that egyptian wig, though, I'm more used to his usual haircut, but Natalya seems very happy about making him wear it and kept bugging him to grow a longer hair for real.
So was the picture taken in some sort of a museum place?
No, not at all. In the Egyptian Café nearby. It's a nice place, the owner is a big fan of Andrzej, so him and Natalya get a free cappuccino every day. I believe sometimes Andrzej even performs there for free but... as I can imagine, in his casual clothes, so I'd personally recommend to watch his normal performance in the circus... Ah, and background is actually a wallpaper, Natalya said that the original is in Louvre, called the Stele of... something-desh... I'd give you Natalya but those two are away as usual.
No problem, I'm sure our readers are dying to see anything you'd be willing to share in the future!
Of course! Me, Andrzej and Natalya also can't wait to get our hands on the next issue of Daily Bend, it's always our favorite read and we always buy several copies, they're all over the place... Anyway, thanks a lot for the interview and a good time of day to all the readers! Stay bendy!