Young Mongolians train to keep an ancient art form alive

Slowly.... deliberately.... and with great care.... this young Mongolian girl hoists her body off the ground using her teeth. The girls - aged between 8 and 13 years old- are training to become contortionists.... an ancient Mongolian art form supposedly developed during the time of Genghis Khan. They train for about four hours a day in this Ulaanbaatar basement- twisting, bending and balancing with delicate detail to avoid injury. It's hard work. (SOUNDBITE) (Mongolian) CONTORTIONIST, SHINEZUL, SAYING: "Mostly I cried during the stretching exercises and also some times when I was tired." (SOUNDBITE) (Mongolian) 8 YEAR CONTORTIONIST OLD SUVD-ERDENE, SAYING: "I cried when my teacher made me do the stretching exercises, at that time I felt really discouraged." But the training could pay off. Some contortionists move on to perform with the Mongolian National Circus. Others are scouted by international troupes like Cirque du Soleil. For these performers, it's a matter of national pride. It's the dream of the Mongolian people to introduce our culture and art to the world, this girl said. That's why I want to be the best contortionist.

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