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Belmont sophomore pursues passion with a twist

Sophomore Jessica Ives may come across as the typical Belmont hipster girl with her grunge style and raspy voice, but with Ives, there is always a twist.

Ives is a self-taught contortionist with the ability to dislocate both shoulders and hips.

“My go-to fun fact is that I can fit into boxes and other things that I probably shouldn’t be able to do,” said Ives.

At 13, Ives and her best friend went to French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in Catskills, New York. French Woods offers traditional camp activities and more unusual programs like magic, circus and theater.

“French Woods is a breeding ground for talented kids. There’s a full circus pavilion, seven theaters, a recording studio and broadway agents,” said Ives.

A supervisor at French Woods suggested that Ives, an experienced ballerina, audition for the circus program. Ives instantly fell in love with the circus. Although the camp had a contortion teacher, the circus instructors taught Ives techniques for strength and control.

“I would stand in a straddle and contort into a pretzel and walk around camp with my feet over my shoulders,” said Ives.

Ives performed on aerial net, silks, Spanish web, flying trapeze, swinging trapeze, static trapeze, straps, tight rope and lyra. For her single-point trapeze performance, Ives had to hold onto a trapeze and spin in pirouette 20 feet from the ground.

“Once you get down and realize that you haven’t died, it is very exciting,” said Ives.

Originally, Ives wanted to pursue the circus life and perform with Cirque du Soleil, but, now that she’s an entertainment industry studies major at Belmont, Ives is more interested in practicing contortion for fun.

Article and video by Courtney Bellush. Photo courtesy of Jessica Ives.

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