The Rubin is transforming. Read important updates from our Executive Director.

Mongolian Contortionists

Himalayan Heritage

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
6:30 PM–8:00 PM

Mongolian culture is known worldwide for many things, including throat singing and horse racing, but did you know that Mongolia has also produced many of the world’s champion contortionists? For centuries a long line of Mongolian contortionists have been acclaimed for their strength, talent, and grace. The art form, which includes elements of traditional dance, has been documented as far back as the 17th century, when it was enjoyed as entertainment in Mongolia’s royal courts.

Join Mongolian filmmaker Sarnai Tessitore as she presents her film Body in Motion: Exploring the Art of Contortion. She will speak with the audience after the screening, joined by Buyansan Goldstein, an advisor to Mongolia Connections. Together they will discuss the history of the art form and the struggles and achievements of present-day artists who sacrifice so much to realize their dreams.

This program will be introduced by Museum educator Tashi Chodron who also manages Himalayan Heritage Programs and Partnerships. She will speak on 17th-century artist Zanabazaar, who is represented in the Rubin’s collection. A small number of devoted teachers and students of contortionism currently maintain the art form. They take inspiration from the legacy of performers and coaches such as Magjigsuren, Angelique, Otgo, and Undarmaa, all of whom are featured in the film.

About the Speakers

Sarnai Tessitore was born and raised in Communist Mongolia until the age of 15. She then moved to the United States and traveled the country by train with the circus in the early 1990s. She settled in Chicago to pursue an art degree in film and video, and in 2001 she graduated from Columbia College Chicago. She has participated in numerous films as an actor, director, and producer. Her films include the feature By the Will of Chinghis Khan (2009, producer) and Breakthrough (2016, director), an award winner in the 48-Hour Film Project in Chicago. The documentary film Why We March (2018) was her latest passion project.

Buyansan Goldstein, a graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), received a BA in arts and fashion. Her award-winning fashion designs have been displayed in exhibitions at FIT and in the Neiman Marcus Department Store. She is an advisor to Mongolia Connections, a cultural consulting organization, and is an active supporter of their cultural programs with museums and other institutions.

Standard Tickets: $19.00

Member Tickets: $15.20

Become a member today!