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How Contortionists Work


Careers in Contortion
A contortionist, going by the name of Yogi Laser, puts on a special street performance for the public in London's Covent Garden.
A contortionist, going by the name of Yogi Laser, puts on a special street performance for the public in London's Covent Garden.
© Sabiha Mahmoud/Demotix/Corbis

For those who want to take contortion to the next, professional level, there are at least a few options. The good news is that they don't all entail waiting around for the big top carnival caravan to blow through town so you can run off with the yak woman and the boys who operate the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Contortionists looking to work in circus and related fields may very well want to consider formal training. At Cirque du Soleil, for example, performers are required to have professional circus arts training or to show that they can perform at the professional level if self-taught. You can get professional training at a circus school such as the National Circus School Montreal. In addition to allowing a performer to develop a particular art form, circus arts training programs expose students to a wide range of other disciplines in order to provide a basic level of training across a broad spectrum of performance styles.

It's important to keep in mind that working in a circus-type job isn't all sequined outfits and free elephant rides. It's a lot of work and usually entails long stretches of time away from home. It also probably won't make you rich, unless you turn out to be the long-lost cousin of the Flying Wallendas. Performers can expect to bring in about $300 a week at the entry level, while those who are obtain a feature slot in a show can earn up to $70,000 a year, plus free room and board [source: KidzWorld].

Of course, if you dig folding yourself into bizarre positions, like to travel and don't mind the smell of animals, life under the big top could be the right thing for you. Sure beats working in an office.