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limber -- 1. [adjective] Flexible; having muscles that are warmed up and ready for activity. 2. [noun] A frontward or backward acrobatic skill that is similar to a walkover (See: "walkover"), except the legs remain together at all times, and instead of going through an inverted split the performer goes through a traditional handstand.

limbo -- Acrobatic dance from the island of Trinidad in which the dancer bends backward and passes underneath a horizontal bar, which is placed lower and lower. Also performed on roller skates, usually head-first in a straddle split. Roller-limbo is shown.

living statue act -- A dance or circus act for two or three performers, usually with metallic body paint and costumes, consisting of a series of hand-to-hand balances and other acrobatic poses which are held for a few seconds before slowly moving into the next pose.

lotus (also called: full lotus) -- To sit cross-legged with each foot placed on the opposite thigh.
Marinelli bend -- [From contortionist and international theatrical agent H. B. Marinelli (1864-1924)] A head-seat with the legs extended, performed while supported only by a mouth grip at the top of a short post.
needle scale -- A front split while standing on one foot, and extending the rear leg upward while holding the rear leg overhead.
oversplit (also called: hypersplit) -- Any split in which the angle formed by the legs measures greater than 180 degrees. Can be done to the front with either or both legs elevated, or in a straddle split with one or both legs elevated.
passive stretching (also called: static-passive stretching; assisted relaxed stretching) -- 1. A general term used to describe a static stretch (See: "static stretching") in which an external force (such as the floor or another person) holds the performer in the static position. Compare to "active stretching" 2. The practice of having a relaxed limb moved beyond its normal range of motion with the assistence of a partner.
Phillips -- [From American artistic gymnast Kristie Phillips] A handstand straddle split, with a 90 degree backbend, originally performed on the balance beam.
pike -- To be bend forward at the waist with the legs and trunk kept straight.

PNF stretching -- [proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation] A technique for increasing flexibility which combines passive stretching (See: "passive stretching") and isometric stretching. (See: "isometric stretching")

pointe -- In classical ballet, when a dancer uses special shoes (called pointe shoes or toe shoes) to dance en pointe (on their toes). The arch of the top of the foot is at its maximum when the dancer "pushes over", causing the heel of the foot to be almost directly over the toes. Difficult and often painful to learn, both men and women may benefit from studying pointe technique, however, most performance opportunities are for women only. Children do not begin to study pointe until they have years of experience and sufficient ankle strength, as well as being old enough to ensure that their bones are strong enough.

quadriceps -- A group of four muscles at the front of the thigh which contract when the leg is straightened at the knee joint, and are stretched when the leg is bent at the knee joint.

rag doll act (also called: golliwog act) -- Circus act in which a contortionist, dressed in a loose-fitting clown costume, gives the appearance of being a limp, life-sized doll, as one or two assistants bend, roll, carry and pose the "doll" and then stuff him/her into a small box.
rhythmic gymnastics (also called: rhythmic sportive gymnastics (RSG); rhythmics) -- Olympic sport for one woman (or 5 women in group competition) consisting of a balletic floor exercise which demonstrates leaps, turns, balance and flexibility while moving and tossing handheld apparatus: a ball, a rope, a hoop, two clubs, or a ribbon. Men's rhythmic gymnastics currently exists in Japan, and is gaining worldwide acceptance.
rope act (also called: Spanish web) -- Circus act in which an acrobat (usually female) performs exercises high above the floor while holding on to a long, vertically suspended rope, or hanging from a loop in the rope.



This page was co-authored by:
Greg Ullman (
Tige Young (

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