Saturday 17 April 2021
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Bend it like Paulo

The look on people’s faces, the way their jaws drop and the disbelief in their eyes when they come across 24 year old, Israel Paulo are definitely moments to live for.

This is because what he does is not so very common as he bends and twists his body into shapes most humans can’t even imagine. Its even hard to put a name to what he does as one is not completely sure whether it is pure acrobatics or whether he is an essence a contortionist. But whatever it is, his brand of gymnastics combine contortion as well as a healthy douse of entertainment.

With videos floating all across social media, the Angolan born entertainer has captured a rather large audience and lately he has been spotted performing on the streets of Windhoek. One question remains unanswered : how on earth does he this so effortlessly ?

He remembers starting in 2008, and since then he has never looked back.

Acrobatics in most cases can be described as a performance of extraordinary human feats of balance, agility, and motor coordination. Paulo however adds his own twist to it, a twist that is yet to have been seen in Namibia until he came along.

Balancing on objects such as used milk powder tins painted black by Paulo, these are the props used which allows him to rest comfortably while doing his tricks.

The Lounge met up with Paulo, for an exclusive interview and showcase on what it is he actually does. Paulo who was born in Luanda and occasionally tours countries and this time he made his way to Namibia. He does so not only to experience the countries diverse culture which he notes is different from Angola, but to also spend some quality time with friends who he has not seen for such a long time.

Before his interview started with The Lounge, Paulo showed up in a bright multi-coloured Bob Marley two piece outfit, carrying his black bag pack filled with props and a green tennis racket in his hand. He was accompanied by his best friend who also at times assists him in some of his performances. Fluent in French and Portuguese, Paulo is assisted by his best friend to cross the language barrier.

Kicking of the interview, Paulo shares how body twisting became a part of his life.

“It all started in 2008, when I was twelve I spent most of my time watching dancers in Angola do different kinds of movements with their bodies and from that moment, my love for it grew.

I then enrolled into an acrobatic dance school, however I felt that it was not teaching me enough because I wanted to showcase something different which is what I do now. I dropped out of the school and opted to watch various YouTube videos – that taught me a lot”.

When Paulo noticed that he had gotten better at it, he then took to the streets to perform for his countrymen. In 2010 it all paid off when he was then scouted out through referrals to perform at the twenty seventh African Cup of Nations held in Angola.

He describes the experience as having been surreal because he never thought that he would ever get the opportunity to perform in front of such a huge crowd.

“The good thing about it all was that people were so accepting of the performance even though some people worried that I would hurt myself”.

He further explained that those that were sceptical about the performance related it to witchcraft, which he found silly.

“There are still people who have this notion that its witchcraft, but I want to assure you that it is not anything close to that. It’s because of constant practise that I am able to do this and it took a little getting used to as well”.
Paulo laughs as he shares  that he has had people walk up to him requesting to touch his body in order to feel if he had any bones in him.

“I cannot recall the number of times this has happened to me, but just like any other human I do have bones. How else would I balance myself”.

With a talent such as this, Paulo notes that he does this out of pure love and has somewhat also managed to make a career out of it. He hopes one day to open up an academy where he can school people on how to do acrobatics in a creative way.

“This will allow me to give back to the community and will also create a new creative space for generations to come. I believe this will as well prove that humans can be anything they want to be in life other than just being the normal stereotypical doctor, policeman or firefighter”.

He concluded his interview with a little performance act which he highlighted that it is always keep one’s viewers in suspense and on edge wondering what he possibly could do next which makes performing worthwhile.

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