Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Shannen Jones: How a passion for gymnastics turned into a career of Contortion and Foot-Archery

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Hi, I'm Shannen Jones

and I am a Gold Coast-based contortionist

and foot-archery performer.

So I grew up doing gymnastics

at the Elite Rhythmic Gymnastics Club in Burleigh Heads

and I did that for nine years.

So I really loved gymnastics

and I thought it was my biggest passion ever,

but I realised that I enjoyed the performing side

rather than the competitive nature of the sport.

So then I transferred to Aerial Angels Academy

in Burleigh and they really kick-started my career

and got me performing at events on the Gold Coast

which was unbelievable for me,

to be considered like a pre-professional performer.

That was really powerful, life-changing to me,

'cause I didn't realise that that was possible or that

people could thrive and have these amazing careers

and completely support themselves through their art

and their craft so I kind of fell into that path.

How do you describe what it is that you do?

I'd say that I'm a professional contortionist

and foot-archery performer.

So I love doing a range of events;

I do corporate events, festivals and sideshows,

so my act kind of changes depending on the event,

but it's all movement-based and performance art

with a bit of circus and sideshow.

I get a wide range of reactions for my act;

some people are horrified but

some people are amazed by it,

and I really enjoy that interaction

between the artist and the audience.

Foot-archery: how did you find yourself there?

I guess I just...

You can learn anything from the internet nowadays

so I watched someone do it and at the time,

I was training at Aerial Angels and with a very good coach,

Ben, and he told me which bow to buy

and we slowly trained up the act together and, yeah,

it was a bit of a trial-and-error thing to begin with;

I learned with my feet before I learned with my hands so.

My training is super important to me.

There's definitely a level of discipline

that I need to maintain.

So I spend three to four hours every day

doing pretty intense physical training,

so lots of handstands,

lots of backbends and contortion training,

and then I also practice the arrows quite frequently

'cause it's not something that you would like to mess up so.

And how does your international work, then,

how do you make the leap from being Gold Coast-based

to then performing internationally?

So before I started busking,

I solely performed on stage, my seven-minute act,

and I didn't know how to speak in front of an audience,

I didn't know how to express myself vocally.

And when I started busking in Byron,

I started by waving at people with my feet in handstands,

and I used to solve a Rubik's Cube with my feet

over my head and just really novelty stuff like that.

But it really broke that fourth wall

and allowed me to connect with the audience

and express myself in an entirely different way

that I hadn't previously done.

And from there, I met Chayne Hultgren, Space Cowboy,

and Chayne created a street show for me

which was a 40-minute longer version of my act.

And then from there,

I got to pitch it to different festivals,

and at the time I was surrounded by people

that did work seasonally and did go to Europe

when the summer season in Australia was over.

And I got put into the right contracts

and got to do the leap and go to Glastonbury

and work in London, and I did a cabaret there,

and the Fringe Festival over there,

and it just kinda took off.

Growing up, I wasn't really aware of the opportunities

that we had here on the Gold Coast, especially for artists,

and now that I've grown up a little bit more,

I know that there are a lot of events on

and there's lots of room for art and exploration,

and there's amazing venues here that offers a platform

for artists which I just wasn't really aware of

'cause you don't really consider the Gold Coast

to be a big art scene like Sydney or like Melbourne.

But there's definitely that room for opportunity here

and it's events like Bleach and the French Festival,

and so long as you're willing to learn

and if you're passionate about something

and you put that energy out,

you will be able to find these people

and connect with people on this level,

and, yeah, just work together.

The Description of Shannen Jones: How a passion for gymnastics turned into a career of Contortion and Foot-Archery