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Contortionist finds passion in circus

Many people would find the nickname derogatory, but Andreane Leclerc wants you to feel free to call her Snake Woman.

Many people would find the nickname derogatory, but Andreane Leclerc wants you to feel free to call her Snake Woman.

“I like it,” said the 25-year-old contortionist and Gatineau native, who is home this weekend to perform at the closing weekend of Carnivale Lune Bleue. Leclerc will be performing with Montreal-based, 10-piece band the Unsettlers, using her body as an instrument in interpreting the music.

It all started when she was a toddler.

“I have always been more flexible than normal,” said Leclerc. “It was my little game when I was young.”

Even at seven, she wanted to join the circus. It wasn’t until she was 12, however, that she left home to attend the Cirque du Soleil circus school in Montreal.

“It gave me a passion for circus,” she said. She learned contortionist techniques, but also something more important – “I learned that it was possible to make a living, and that circus is an art and something you can do in your life.”

Five years later, she left the country and has lived and performed in Italy, Switzerland and Germany, returning to Canada two years ago to study theatre in university.

But for this weekend, she’ll be performing what she does best at the grand finale weekend at Carnivale Lune Bleue at Hog’s Back Park.

During the 30-minute contortion performance, “I’ll let the music pass through my body,” said Leclerc, who specializes in back bending.

While spectators are in awe of her talent – and the circus lifestyle – all that is normal to Leclerc now.

“The old image of what gypsies are is close to the reality,” she said. Not to say that it’s not difficult at times.

“Even when you’re with people you’re alone,” she said. “Some people are good at sending letters and postcards. I’m another type of person – I live where I am.”

 
 
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