By Dominique Jando
Tungalag (Tunga) Has-Ochyr was born in the northern region of the People’s Republic of Mongolia (Outer Mongolia) to a family that did not belong to the circus. Her father was a construction(French) A temporary circus building, originally made of wood and canvas, and later, of steel elements supporting a canvas top and wooden wall. Also known as a "semi-construction." manager, her mother a housewife who raised ten children.
Tunga joined the State Circus School of Ulan-Bator when she was twelve years old. She specialized in the art of contortion under Ms. Majigsurenthe. In this remote Asian country (located between Russian Siberia and China), contortionists endowed with spiritual significance their unique ability to twist their bodies into intricate positions; for centuries, they were revered as sacred dancers.
Tunga began performing in 1978 with the Mongolian State Circus, both at home and on tours abroad. In 1985, she participated in the Circus Festival of Cuba, where she won the Silver medal. Subsequently, she was invited to perform at the Bolshoi Circus in Moscow, the Soviet circus’s most prestigious venue at a time when the Soviet circus was the world’s foremost proponent of circus arts.
In 1987, Tunga was featured at Berlin’s Friedrichstadt Palast Theater for the 750th-anniversary celebration of the German capital. Two years later, she made her debut in a Western circus, Germany's Circus Roncalli. After that, Tunga settled in Germany and appeared in many European circus and variety shows. She went to the United States for the first time in 1992, where she was featured in the Big Apple Circus production of Goin’ Places.
When she returned to Germany, Tunga began to work with other Mongolian contortionists in ensemble acts that she choreographed. She took a break from performing in 1995 (after a last appearance in Sydney, Australia) and created her own company, Mongolian Fascination Ensemble. She trained and promoted groups of Mongolian contortionists for the numerous “Varieté” shows that were burgeoning in Germany.
After attending a school of cosmetology in Germany, Tunga resumed performing in 1997, appearing at the Loews Casino Hotel in Monte Carlo, at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (U.S.A.), and in Germany. In 1998, she co-founded the International Contortion Convention and definitively retired from performing.
Since then, Tunga has re-settled in the United States, where she runs her own agency, Tunga Talent Agency, which promotes contortion acts for European and American shows and special events. She currently lives in Las Vegas.
- Video: Tunga, Contortionist, in the Big Apple Circus production of Goin' Places (1992)