VIDEO: Watch the LIC Contortionist Competing on 'America's Got Talent'
LONG ISLAND CITY — She's twisting her way to the top.
Nina Burri, a contortionist and Long Island City resident, will compete Tuesday night on the hit NBC show "America's Got Talent," showing off her limb-bending abilities in the hopes of moving on to the next round of the reality competition.
The 36-year-old, who originally hails from Switzerland and moved recently to Court Square with her husband, said she decided to learn the art of contortion at the age of 30 after a successful ballet career.
"I've always been flexible," said Burri.
She picked up the art at a school in Bejing, China, where she trained intensively for several hours a day for six months.
"It was a hard thing to learn — I was 30 already," she said. While the switch from dance to contortion was a "big risk," she said it paid off in the end.
"Contortion was more creative for me," she said.
For the last several years, she's worked professionally as a contortionist, performing at galas and events and even placed second in a reality show talent competition in Switzerland in 2011, she said.
She impressed the panel of celebrity judges on "America's Got Talent" — which includes Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum — in her audition that aired in June, where she donned a gold unitard and bent herself in a series of eye-popping positions.
"This is the best contortion I've seen and I've been here three years," judge Howard Stern told Burri, according to the video.
Burri is set to compete in the show's quarterfinals Tuesday night, performing live at Radio City Music Hall for an episode that's set to air at 9 p.m.
Viewers are able to vote for their favorite contestants online or by phone, and those moving on to the next round of the competition will be announced in an episode that airs Wednesday night.
Burri moved to Long Island City this summer, and said she chose the neighborhood for its proximity to Manhattan but also for its creative vibe.
"We like it here," she said. "Long Island City is a bit more quiet, and has a big arts scene and it's lovely."