Shiny Polish

Andrzej's new selfie and interview! :3

Today on Daily Bend we interview Polish contortionist Andrzej Kowalczyk who once again surprised us with his new selfie. According to Andrzej, the selfie was taken during a photo session for a fashion agency, when he was looking for a toilet and suddenly found his own last year's poster in the corridor.

In this interview Andrzej talks about his life as well as his part in the forthcoming worldwide male rhythmic gymnastics tournament Hoops of Tomorrow!

1. Though you represent Poland in the tournament, we know that you only lived there for the first 7 years of your life, most of them in an orphanage... Were you already known as a flexible child around the orphanage or did the interest first appear after you moved in with the new family?

I always had some natural talent, especially in my hips, but I only made it a large part of my life when I moved. I could always do things like splits and knots, but it was more of “realizing” my talent when I moved to Austria. When people think of orphanages they often think of these rundown and miserable places, but it wasn’t so bad. I remember cats in particular, lots of cats. You could say that before Fiona, these cats were my first teachers, and I recommend everyone get one because they can teach you all sorts of ways to squeeze into tiny spaces and stretch your legs. I want to get a cat soon again, maybe do a little team act. It’ll be fun!

2. At the age of 7 you were adopted by the contortionist Fiona Dietrich who came all the way from Austria just for you, and you lived in Austria since. In these 11 years under her care you've become one of the most flexible people of all time, but one can't help but wonder if Fiona only adopted you to pass the torch, so to speak. After all these years, do you still feel a bit like an orphan?

Even if she did adopt me to train me as a contortionist, my adoptive mother has opened the doors to an amazing life for me. At this point I do not think it matters. I still consider myself Polish and Andrzej “Kowalczyk” not “Dietrich” but I have had all the love and affection I could ever need, both myself and Natalya. In any other situations I think I would feel like an orphan or spare child, but I don’t see how I can given all the time and attention Fiona has put into me.

3. Looking at your many pictures, you almost seem obliged to incorporate stretching into anything you do, studying in a pretzel, playing video games in a cheststand, taking a bath in an oversplit, sleeping in a triplefold. Are you ever allowed to unfold?

Sure! I can, but why would I when its so fun! I think it started as excercise, Natalya always could eat or read books while twisting herself up, so I tried to do the same thing, and I caught up to her in frontbending, but we both realized how fun it is to take a “flexible approach to life.” The only times I cannot unfold is training in the classic sense, on the mat, in the gym, etcetera, but otherwise I do it because I LOVE it.

4. People at your school seem to adore you greatly, moreover you don't seem to be the only talent in your class, a few other boys and girls are acrobats and gymnasts, and you do some amazing shows together every Christmas. Were you the one who ignited their interest or was it a lucky coincidence to have other physically fit kids in your class?

I would like to think we all inspire each other a little bit, and if I inspire many people to get stretching in my class, why shouldn't I do it by winning Hoops of Tomorrow? Maybe that way I can ignite interest with the whole world. The lucky coincidence, I think is that there are people who see something and don’t just go “how nice!” but that there are people who look at me and say “I want to do that!” That to me is the fortunate part.

5. Your first opponent is Russia's Yasha Lebedev, the "swan boy". Since you'll be wearing a cat costume for the show, do you feel like the judges pulled a joke putting your cat against the Russian bird? How do you feel about Yasha, are you going to show him your sharpest teeth and claws?

Hey, I think its fun! It’s like doing contortion every day, if I can’t have fun doing something what’s the point? Same for the judges, if they’re pushing numbers all day, why should they do the job? And if it's by doing my hardest, then yes I will, but I never want to make any of my fellow athletes uncomfortable, *he jokes* even if they come from Russia.

6. If Yasha loses, he will have to become part of your personal show which you've entitled "My Black Kitten", so you'll be able to use him however you want. If the kitten is you, will Yasha play a mother cat who teaches her baby how to bend around in life?

*He nods* I know some of the other competitors are planning mischief and prank acts, and that’s fun and all, but I want myself and Yasha to get along, despite what our respective homelands think of each other. When I win, I want to win graciously and not humiliate him, so I think giving him a role like a fellow cat, even a female one is a good idea. He is a skilled performer and it would be a waste to make him like “veterinarian” or something.

7. It seems Yasha plans to orchestrate his own version of "The Swan Lake" in case you lose to him. He sent us a brief summary if you don't mind to hear it... "A disillusioned wizard turns a beautiful youth into a white swan who can never leave the lake in front of the wizard's hut. A young hunter then goes through the forest and falls in love with the swan's true form but after many tries he fails to help dispelling the enchantment. In the end he chooses to submit to the wizard and get turned into a black swan himself, so that the two swans can bend together forever..." So how does this sound to you, would you rather be the wizard or the hunter, or maybe the wizard's black cat or something?

The hunter seems like a nice idea. Maybe after the competition is done, we can try this routine, but since I won’t lose it does not seem like we’ll see it this time. *He winks*


Thanks to my good friend Filter-GX for coming up with Andrzej's answers :)