IF many people were asked to stretch their legs behind their back, do the splits upside down or run around their own head they’d almost certainly find it impossible.
But for South Yorkshire performer Pixie Le Knot, twisting her limbs into weird and wonderful shapes comes naturally.
Pixie - real name Jennifer Keith - is in great demand as one of the country’s few professional contortion acts, and has visited countries around the world including Monaco, Dubai and Romania showing off her unusual talent.
The pliable performer describes herself as one of the UK’s most flexible contortionists, able to manoeuvre herself into some of the most extreme backbends.
Jennifer, from Moorgate, Rotherham, developed her supple skills after taking up dance classes, and trained as a circus artist before touring the country in a travelling circus with clowns, jugglers and acrobats.
The 24-year-old will soon be reaching an even bigger audience by appearing on cinema screens in upcoming horror movie The Devil Inside, and will also be wowing TV viewers in Channel Four documentary Bodyshock.
“I really love performing and seeing the reactions that I get,” said Jennifer, who now lives in East London and also teaches dance and gymnastics to children.
“I like seeing what my body can do and getting to do exciting and interesting things.”
None of Jennifer’s family come from a circus or performing background - meaning her career as a contortionist has made her the black sheep of her family.
Her dad Alan is a doctor at Rotherham Hospital, while mum Fiona is an administration worker at Rotherham Council. Older brother Daniel, 27, is also a medic.
“I did dance and gymnastics as a child but never did anything circus-related at all,” said Jennifer, a former Sheffield High School and Birkdale pupil whose stage monicker is a pun on the name of pop singer Pixie Lott.
“My parents aren’t very pleased about it, they don’t really want me to do it. It’s a shame. I initially went down to London to do art foundation and ended up going to circus school instead.”
While taking dance classes at the famous Pineapple Dance Studios, Jennifer met a group of circus performers and was drawn to life in the big top.
“I went to a few classes and decided to join circus school full time, but when I was at Pineapple everyone used to say I should do contortion.
“I trained myself - I used YouTube videos and worked really hard. I searched on the internet all the time, looking at photos and just practised on my own all the time.”
She said the key to her talent is being ‘naturally flexible’.
“I’ve got really good back bones, it’s definitely a natural thing I’ve got, which is quite unusual.
“Everyone loves it when I run around my own head. I put my chest and chin on the floor and run around my head! It looks pretty scary but it’s not that difficult.
“It’s never painful when I’m actually doing contortion but it’s really achy the next day.”
After studying circus skills in Bristol and London, she toured with Zippo’s Circus for four months before taking her contortion act solo last year. Since then her diary has been filled with corporate events, parties and club engagements.
Jennifer is the ‘lead stunt double for contortion’ in The Devil Inside, a chilling film about a girl researching exorcism. The movie was produced by major studio Paramount and will be released in February.
n Visit www.pixieleknot.co.uk to see Jennifer in action. Bodyshock will be screened at 9pm tomorrow on E4.