Rebecca Peache, a slender and graceful ballet dancer, might be a superhero. Bending backward at her knees until most of her body is parallel with the floor, she can bear the weight of her muscular husband, Donovan Jones.
One moment, Peache is sitting in a large swath of red fabric hanging from a 16-foot ceiling, and in the next moment, she appears to fly with a cape of infinite length.
Peache and Jones are aerial performers who seem to dance midair although bolts of a nylon-spandex fabric attach them to the real world. They also perform “acrobalance” acts that don’t seem possible and look deceptively easy.
The couple has lived in an old warehouse at 1805 Market St. in Galveston since 2015.
“It had so much space and so many possibilities,” Jones said.
Jones and Peache first discovered Galveston when they were working as performers on a cruise ship. They fell in love with the island and decided to move here.
“It’s a mixture of old New York and Miami,” Jones said. “And we’re an hour from the airport.”
The couple makes about 100 flights a year to different international venues to perform.
“Galveston reminds me of Italy, Mexico and Miami,” Peache said. “It has an antique vibe and a fitness vibe. We like the weather. And we can ride our golf cart. I love that Galveston is laid back.”
Learning to balance
Their studio space is where they train, but they also teach the basics of aerial performance and acrobalance to small groups. Other performers who are in the area temporarily come to practice at the space to keep their bodies and focus in shape.
An aerial yoga instructor from Houston has taught classes in the Galveston warehouse space.
“We’re not a yoga studio,” Jones said.
One of their goals is to teach professional dancers acrobatic moves that are marketable. Between international performances, they also want to teach balance-fitness classes to any age and any ability. They already offer small workshops for six to eight participants to get a sense of what people want to learn and hope to get out of a session.
“They want to be conditioned and have fun,” Jones said. “Afterward, we sit and have a glass of wine and talk about the experience.
Renovating the warehouse into a studio and a home is an ongoing process, Jones said. When they bought the building, the first floor had five rooms in a U-shape that left a space in the middle. He tore those out as well as the plaster board on the main walls. Now, exposed brick is the backdrop to the bright fabric that hangs from steel beams.
They are living upstairs and leaving the first floor as an open studio.
“It’s DIY,” Jones said, as he carried floor boards inside.
Jones took out the ceiling on the first floor and discovered that the wooden beams were rotten. He replaced those with steel ones that could hold the weight of several people.
Love and life in Europe
Donovan and Peache married in 1997. They met while working on a show in New York. Peache, who is from London, had worked as a cancan dancer at Moulin Rouge, a popular tourist attraction in Paris. Donovan, an American, grew up in Paris and became a professional singer.
They wanted to find a way to combine their acts so they could spend more time together at work and share time off. They lived in London for 10 years, where they learned aerial and acrobatic techniques. They performed on cruise ships, and Jones was a production manager for entertainment on cruise ships.
‘You flow like water’
Donovan and Peache appeared on the television show “America’s Got Talent” in 2012, making it to the semifinals in a competition that usually favors singers.
“I hope it comes across at home how difficult this is,” judge Sharon Obourne said after watching one of their performances. “You are both so strong but flawless. You flow like water.”
Stamina and training are only part of what it takes to perform aerial and acrobatic acts.
“It takes trust as well,” Peache said. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. When we perform, there’s joy. Holding on by your wrist to your partner is a definite commitment. I know there’s nothing he would do to harm me.