Originally from London, Frank moved to Derby in 1974 when he married his wife Jan. The pair met whilst performing in the Blackpool Ice Show in 1972. They soon got together and performed an acrobatic/adagio duo act called “Duo Du Sol” in theatres, clubs, hotels etc. around the UK and overseas.
Frank still works as a Charlie Chaplin impersonator occasionally, and from time to time works as a professional mime artist. His main focus now however, is teaching, and has been teaching acrobatics for over 30 years.
In 1986, Frank and Jan established the Du Sol School of Acrobatics, based at Allestree Memorial Hall. Both of their daughters, Delia and Yvette, are both very successful contortionists and acrobatics artists, having been taught by their parents.
After speaking to Frank, he talked about how he ended up learning acrobatics.
“I learnt it by accident. I used to be an ice skater. I used to do ice shows, I was in an ice show in Germany and there were some guys there from the circus who were acrobatics, and they just said ‘do you fancy learning how to do acrobatics on ice?’ so they taught me how to do things like back flips and somersaults. I learnt how to do it on the ice before on the floor.”
When Frank met his wife Jan, she was a contortionist and an acrobat. They soon got an act together which they performed on ice at first, and soon moved on to cabaret and theatre performances.
What can you bring to Déda with your acrobatic classes?
“Well for children who are already taking dance lessons, it will really help with their dancing, because of flexibility. Dancers nowadays have to be, if they want to do it professionally, especially need to be very flexible. Acrobatics is really part of dance training now. You don’t need to be amazing, but you need to know basic stuff like leg flexibility.”
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to learn about the circus arts?
“I think anybody who wants to go into any kind of performing now should go into it with their eyes open, and realise it’s a difficult profession to make a success of because there’s so many people doing it. It depends what level you want to take it to, if you just want to do as a recreational activity that’s fine but if you want to do it professionally, it can be very hard.”
What can people expect to learn from attending your classes?
“That will depend on your build, your basic ability and age. Obviously the older you are, the harder it might be as you’ll be less flexible, but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t do other things, such as hand balancing. There’s something for everybody in acrobatics, everyone’s got equal opportunities.”
Frank has years of experience in the performing arts, from ice skating, to acrobatics, to mime art, and has been teaching acrobatics for over 30 years. We can’t wait to have him here at Déda to show us how it’s done!