Real Life

Twisty twins: We’re bending the rules

The daring duo share more than a stage

Motueka women Jola and Nele Siezen are identical twins living a double life. They both have two-year-old sons, they live in the same neighbourhood and they work together too – ruling the acrobatic world with their bendy bodies.

The 32-year-old sisters, who were born in Germany but moved to New Zealand at age seven, have been a double act since they could first walk. “We were outdoorsy kids who were very active,” says Nele. “We would climb up ropes and always balance on each other.”

Nele and Jola have performed for audiences all over the world, from Austria to Australia.

Growing up in the Coromandel, they aspired to make a living from their flexibility and, after high school, they enrolled in an acrobatics course in Auckland, where their passion grew. Nele explains, “There is always so much adrenaline when you learn something new – you get such a satisfaction from it.” After performing a few times for family and friends, they came up with the name the Twisty Twinz and did their first public gig at an open-mic night. Twenty-one years later, the name has stuck and the supple siblings are still performing.

These days, the Twisty Twinz push themselves to do more and more incredible stunts. Jola tells, “One crazy move we do is the Octopus, where we hold each other from the waist and flip backwards. It has flying legs everywhere – hence the name! “But probably the funniest moment was when Nele and I decided to do a show with real cake. We tried it in rehearsal and it was too messy, so we used a fake cake for the show, but we still smelt like cream from the real one!”

Double the fun

While working with your sister might drive most people mad, Nele insists they’re stoked to share their lives. She says, “Working with Jola is a dream come true. It is honestly the most perfect thing because she is my best friend. We do have little disagreements about what moves we want in our routine because we have our own ideas, but we hardly ever argue. If we do, it’s usually just about what wig we want to wear!”

Nele and her partner Tobias Castelli welcomed their son Manu only two and a half weeks before Jola and her partner Justin Hayward had their little boy Peko. Jola laughs, “We didn’t plan on having kids at the same time – it just happened.”

The boys have already started to bend and twist like their mums. “They’re constantly seeing us rehearse and perform,” smiles Nele, “so they also love doing acrobatics too. They’re always balancing on us and on their own.” She and her sister often take the boys on tour when they’re performing. Proud Jola says, “We love the idea of involving them in our work, but only if they want to, of course. We will support our children regardless of what career path they choose. Each person is an individual, and they will each grow up and find their own life’s passion.”

However, it’s already a family affair for Nele’s partner Tobias, who often joins his wife and her sister in their acrobatic acts, performing magic, juggling and cycling tricks.

“The joy we receive from the audience is unbelievable,” says Nele. “It brings so much colour and light to people’s lives and really inspires us to continue with the Twisty Twinz. But it’s the sensation of being upside down and seeing the world from a totally different perspective that is what we love about being acrobats.”

Jola (left) and son Peko, and Nele with her boy Manu.

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