ZIGGY Picture: DOCTOR NGCOBO

Durban - She loves roller-coasters, the ocean and sushi - when she’s not folding her limbs around her body with an exotic ease that is mind-boggling.

That’s Tsend-Ayush Davaasambu, who’s appearing in the Madame Zingara show as Ziggy the contortionist.

The lithe 20-year-old from Mongolia has been keeping Durban audiences enthralled with her effortless performance which, towards the end of the show, is one of the highlights among a cast of very talented artists. She has Durbanites literally gasping in astonishment as she twists her body into the most unlikely positions.

And while most applaud her skill, some had to turn their eyes away, not able to cope with her improbable flexibility.

Taking some time off stage, she said she was a big fan of Durban.

“This is the second time I’ve been here and it’s one of the best cities I have ever been to. Durban has nice, friendly people, plus a beach, skate park, big shopping centres and an aquarium.”

And the road to being as supple and limber as she is, started when she was eight and fascinated by circus acts.

“I always loved watching the circus on television. When I was eight years old, my mother took me to a real, live circus show. After the show, we went to meet the teacher.

“The teacher sat me down and pulled my legs back, it hurt so much. But then the teacher said ‘yes, she can be a contortionist’. I started training the very next day.”

Tsend started her career as a contortionist with the Mongolian National Circus and has toured with her act to China, Turkey and Korea.

In fact, the very mention of Korea makes her eyes light up.

“Jeju in Korea is my favourite holiday destination. It’s so beautiful. I also like their roller-coaster. It makes me scared, happy and crazy,” she says.

She’s quick to point out that Madagascar is her favourite movie and she loves reading, as well as listening to classical and trance music. Of course, with that free spirit of a circus nomad, Tsend loves travelling and “I enjoy taking pictures, swimming in the ocean and I also play tennis, basketball and pool”.

And although she has also mastered the fine art of making sushi, home is where her heart is when it comes to food

“My mother’s food is always my favourite,” she says.