Quebec’s identical twins Francoise and Josette Lepine each completed a master’s degree in theoretical physics in 2009. However, a love of busking and clowning won their hearts.
They did a U-turn, and the duo will perform at the International Children’s Festival of the Arts running June 2 to 5.
The balloon-bouncing Kif-Kif Sisters have toured both sides of the Pacific Ocean. With 15 years' experience in their toolkit, the sisters developed Jam Side Up, a tried-and-true mashup of physical comedy, circus, music, and street theatre.
Throughout the 45-minute show, the trained acrobats juggle umbrellas, fight giant pink monsters, and make French fries appear at a dizzy speed. And it’s all done with simple household gadgetry.
“We like humour. We like saturated colours, and we like joy. Everyone should have access to joy, especially parents and children. Everyone can enjoy this show and it bonds families,” said Lepine.
Lepine said the twins have done everything together in life. As youngsters, they even shared a secret code. As adults, developing a theatrical partnership was a no-brainer.
“We like to do everything together. We do the costumes, the sets, the play. When you keep it small and do everything, it’s easy to put your personal stamp on a show. And we have lots of imagination.”
Although the Lepine sisters’ parents were both scientists, the couple insisted their daughters have a broad understanding of fine arts and art history. As an accomplished multi-disciplinary artist, Francoise was a graduate of the Rimouski Music Conservatory in cello. Josette also studied piano at the conservatory and later learned to play the accordion.
While working on their formal studies, the curious sisters took a break and travelled to South America.
“We juggled in the streets for fun and met other people clowning. They brought us to clown classes and we realized there was an incredible wide world out there. We took clown classes, put up a website, and started receiving invitations to perform. Within three years we were touring. In street shows you can put your personality into it, and there are infinite worlds you can create.”
The zany acrobats performed at Japan’s Noge Daidogei Street Festival, travelled to entertain Argentinian children, and performed 10 times at children’s festivals in Mexico in addition to sharing their clownish view of the world across North America.
After 15 years in the trenches, the sisters continue to develop new concepts while tweaking older shows.
“When you are passionate about something, it feels you must do it. We perform for so many audiences of different cultures, and we meet so many different artists on tour. We’ve developed our identity. Art is like a language, and we’ve developed our own language. We continue to play as children, and as sisters we get to be together.”
Jam Side Up is an all-ages show and will be performed at the Alberta Blue Cross Tent in Millennium Park. Tickets are $13 plus fees. Visit www.stalbert.ca/exp/childfest/ or call the Arden box office at 780-459-1542.