French acrobats Delphine Lechifflart and Franck Rabilier are sailing down to Port Elizabeth, after their second South African stop in Durban, to perform their acrobatic shows from their sailboat, La Loupiote at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club during November.
The couple will use the mast, boom, rigging and other parts of their yacht as stage to exhibit their acrobatics prowess at three shows on 18, 19 and 20 November 2016 on their yacht moored off ABYC.
The troupe have performed their show around the world with stops in France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Caribbean Islands, East Canada, Bermudas, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii Islands, West Canada, USA, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia.
The Port Elizabeth shows will feature two unusual silent productions inspired by circus, dance and theater on a sailboat. These routines were initially created for the Society of the Old Quays of Montreal (where the couple performed over 150 shows).
The first show, ‘The Sailors’, inspired by Buster Keaton and silents films, is a parody of navigational manoeuvres that poke fun at the mishaps of maladroit navigators.
The second show, ‘Between wing and island’ deals with male-female relationships in a spectacle of aerial choregraphy and acrobatics in a duet that ranges from love, humour and poetry to earth, sea and sky.
Lechifflart and Rabilier met in Paris in 1992 through friends while Lechifflart was studying art history at the school of the Musée de Louvre. Rabilier was an engineer and consultant, but his heart lay elsewhere.
Rabilier, went to a circus training school as a child in Reims, about 80 miles from France, and caught the performing bug. His parents weren’t keen on the circus as a career choice, steering young Franck into engineering instead.
But his interest in performing was kindled. After meeting Lechifflart, Rabilier started teaching her acrobatics. At first it was just for fun, but over the next decade they started working at it more seriously, taking classes in acrobats and theater and learning specific techniques.
In 1999 they started their own company, La Loupiote (which means “small light” in old French), to mix circus and theater. They performed on streets and in theaters, honing their skills.
They also had another abiding interest: sailing. Both had sailed with their families as children and longed to get back on the water. In 2000, the year their daughter Loéva was born, they bought a half-finished, homemade boat and spent the next four years finishing it. The plan was to take their show on the road – or more accurately, the ocean.
Hence the couple’s circumnavigation – or “circusnavigation,” as Lechifflart calls it – began. Delphine and Franck began their ‘Circusnavigation’ in 2004, spending the next couple of years performing at ports in France, Portugal and Morocco.
In 2007 they traveled in the French Caribbean and Canada, returning to France the following year and to be with Rabilier’s ailing father. Lechifflart was also pregnant. They stayed in France until their second daughter, Ondja, was born, then returned to their life of sailing and performing.
The two shows will be performed on three dates at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club:
- Friday 18 November: ‘The Sailors’ at 6:00 pm and ‘Between wing and island’ at 8:00 pm
- Saturday 19 November: ‘The Sailors’ at 4:00 pm and ‘Between wing and island’ at 6:00 pm
- Sunday 20 November: ‘The Sailors’ at 4:00 pm and ‘Between wing and island’ at 6:00 pm
Entrance is free and a hat will be passed around for donations – the couples only form of income as they sail around the world.
The shows are suitable for audiences of all ages and last 20 minutes each. Members of the public are welcome to join ABYC members and their guests on all three days that the shows will be running.
Welcoming the couple ABYC Commodore, Alan Straton said; “Delphine and Franck first contacted the club 18 months ago ago with the idea of bringing their unique show to Port Elizabeth and we readily offered them free mooring for the duration of their stay. I confess to having watched their YouTube videos on more than one occasion and look forward to them introducing members and the public to a wonderful spectacle which will be easily viewed from our lawns and deck.”
Next stop for La Loupiote will be the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town.