Christine Danton showing her amazing flexibility.
Christine Danton showing her amazing flexibility.

Age shouldn't stop you from doing what you love

CHRISTINE Danton is bending over backwards to convince us that ageing, just ain't ageing - not the way it used to be anyway.

At 72-years-young, Christine's voice and viewpoints are stable and convincing. She stands firm as she challenges traditional thinking, but she 'bends it like Beckham' when she shows us why we should believe her.

Yet the truth is, when it comes to bending, Beckham wouldn't come close to this amazing lady who has spent a lifetime performing as a contortionist and now into her seventh decade, has no intention of stopping.

Right now, the native South Australian who lives on 90 acres, by a lake and entertains regularly in the 'The Spud Shed Barn Theatre' on her property, is in America following an invitation to appear on a major television station. The appearance is just one of the engagements that have acknowledged Christine's unique skills and in particular their longevity. Christine sees it as a chance to break the glass ceiling of ageist attitudes.

Christine describes her amazing ability to fold into two, to master seemingly impossible physical positions as rather like doing yoga, a matter of training, and a refusal to stop doing what she loves.

"The same as yoga,"" she said.

"You have to concentrate and focus on a pose."

It is obvious that mind control has its part to play, as it moves deftly with an elastic body. A human body that can stretch, unlock, roll and unroll in half with grace and suppleness borders on the freaky.

But this native South Australian, is far from an outlandish circus act. She describes herself as an artist performing a skilled craft that requires enormous dedication and training. When Christine developed her techniques, there were no schools teaching circus skills and contortionists were rare.

"I was the only one in Australia for many years," she said.

Without a mentor, she went onto develop her own original material.

"I was driven to create," she said.

She believes her natural gift may have been inherited from her mother, who ensured her children never missed a circus, and particularly enjoyed the acrobatic and trapeze acts. When Christine was about 4 and her sister Jo 2, she recalls her mother taking them into the backyard and showing them how to back bend with their hands on the floor, behind them - like a bridge.

"That was the moment, I understood that I knew that's what I was going to do," she said.

"And I never wavered."

While there were no acrobatic lessons in the 1950s, there were dance classes and by 1956, at 13-years-old, her natural ability had gained her a two year contracts as a Channel 7 television dancer in the regular tonight shows.

After that at 17 years-old she made her way to Sydney and launched herself at the circus.

"It was a way to hone in and perfect the act," she said.

With this experience behind her, she went onto perform in cabaret shows in Asia and Europe.

She said she never expected to be performing at this stage of her life, but in a way she had no choice.

She said she went to retire in her mid-50s, but felt like a blob, and went back to her training.

These days Christine says she has adapted to her own body constraints with a training regime that includes three sessions a week together with swimming.

And that's the key to her philosophy.

"Don't give up - adapt," she recommends.

"Things do start to deteriorate," she admits.

"Age can bring body issues and we need to adapt to new issues."

*Besides her performances in the "The Spud Shed - Barn Theatre," Christine plays contract bridge and is a keen photographer.

She is also an in-demand motivational speakers and works under the business name - Bending the Rules. 

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