Les Rencontres de Danse Aérienne was born under the impetus of Fred Deb’, an artist trained at the National Circus Arts Centre (CNAC) and who developed the discipline of aerial dance which launched her into an international career: she began in 1996 with a tour in Australia with the ARTS SAUTS, a famous French contemporary circus company renowned over the world for its unique shows of flying and fixed trapezes. Fred Deb’ then focused on the practice of aerial fabric, a discipline in which she is now considered as a pioneer (some choreographic gestures bear her name in the USA). In 2002, she became an international reference in this new discipline at the crossroads of dance and circus. She is invited around the world as an artist, choreographer and teacher.

Fred Deb’ has therefore initiated and trained many young artists in these new aerial disciplines: she has taught at the Aerial Dance Festival (Boulder Coloradao, USA), the Irish Aerial Dance Festival (Ireland), the European Aerial Dance Festival (UK), Aerial Edge Circus Convention (UK), Santa Barbara Floor to Air Festival (USA),

Ever passionate about this art as well as its knowledge transmission, and remaining unknown to the general public, she decided to spotlight the aerial arts when she moved to Saint-Nazaire (France). This is how the project of the festival was born in 2009, as Fred Deb’ was working on in parallel with her artist career and teacher.


The original idea was to create a unifying event aimed at both aerial dance enthusiasts and professionals. Fred Deb’ imagined an event that could offer a wide range of demanding training courses while highlighting the richness and diversity of aesthetics. She therefore wanted the attendance of international artists and performances.

The Youth and Cultural Centre (Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture, MJC) in La Baule (France) accepted to open its doors to this project in July 2009: Fred Deb’, accompanied by Jacques Bertrand (Technical Manager specialized in aerial hooks), launched the first French festival of Aerial Dance Encounters with limited means but a boundless energy.

In 2013, the city of Le Pouliguen became a partner of the event, thus deploying the spaces and the diffusion.

Considering Fred Deb’s worldwide recognition, the festival immediately raised enthusiasm and attracted people beyond the borders. It therefore took on an international dimension from the first edition and bore witness to a wealth of aerial disciplines.

The project is identified on the territory as a professional meeting lasting 15 days which is divided as follows: a program (between 3 and 5 evenings are organized), training (2 weeks of intensive internships, beginners/advanced courses and master classes) and exchange/conference times…

The programming:

The festival opens on Sundays with the programming of an acrobatic dance company / vertical dance: VDKL Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence , Gravity & Levity (UK), Vault Dance company (USA)…..

The MJC theatre hosts shows on Friday and Saturday evenings: Danzaire companies (Costa Rica), Laquebaila (Colombia), Paloma company (USA), Drapés Aériens (France)…

Open stages to all young artists wishing to share their work are scheduled on Thursday evenings.

This initially intimate programming has met a wider audience year after year, promoting the disciplines in the region.

The conferences:

« the Benesch rating for the circus », Kati Wolf, 2015

« Risk at aerial acrobatics: from arts to sciences. Crossing approaches », Philippe Goudard and Sundy Sun, 2014

« Acrobatic dance and aerial acrobatics: practices and prevention, research and results 1989-2013 », Philippe Goudard, 2013

* Fred Deb’ has devised a method to learn aerial fabrics, which she has transcribed in 2 DVDs filmed during the editions of the French festival of the Aerial Dance Encounters in the MJC, La Baule.


After six editions of in La Baule and Guérande, the city of Saint-Nazaire decided to host the festival. This one acquires a new territorial visibility.

The emphasis is on in situ programming that promotes the city’s heritage and cultural richness. Original and unique coastal sites are identified and chosen: fisheries, submarine base, lifting plant, landscape park and beaches.

The choice is made to offer free shows during the two summer months for all audiences. These contribute to Saint-Nazaire’s tourist attractiveness and economic development.

All aesthetics, all « verticals » are represented.

An original and unique concept was created by Fred Deb’ in 2016: Aerial Rope battle. This is the closing event of the Encounters. In partnership with the “Festival des Escales”, a dozen competitors challenge each other like in the Hip-Hop battles, to the rhythm of the music of guest DJs. International sponsors offer the prizes of the winners. Two battles are played, one per team, the other in solo.

In 2018, the Encounters festival is part of the city’s event « Saint-Nazaire côté plages », a new step in the development and reputation of the festival.

The festival celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2019.



In 2020, the city of Saint-Nazaire trusts the LRDA association and gives it the management of a new place dedicated to the circus arts: the Volière. The choice is made to invest and to promote this new site for the organization of the aerial dance festival


Fred Deb’ director of production

Jacques Bertrand aerial hooks supervisor

Cindy Le Clère administrator

Bruno Bonté development officer

Cassandra Paty Saleh in charge of communication

Esther Quintin production assistant

Dominique Juillet chairman

Marine Simon vice chairman

Olivier Peron treasurer

Muriel Verdière secretary

Isabelle Périon administrator

Catherine Gicquiaud administrator

Sophie Arnera administrator

Philippe Perlaux administrator

Jérôme Gaboriau administrator

the international network

The festival, unique in France, is part of a collaborative approach of networking, exchanges, solidarity and the sharing of knowledge and know-how. It allows a circulation of audiences and teachers with other aerial dance festivals in Europe and around the world. Teachers and guest artists can be festival organizers themselves:

Festival Internacional de Danza Aérea (Costa Rica),

Aerial Dance Festival (Boulder Coloradao, USA),

Irish Aerial Dance Festival (Ireland),

European Aerial Dance Festival (UK),

Aerial Edge Circus Convention (UK),

Santa Barbara Floor to Air Festival (USA),

Aerial Art Festival Berlin (Germany)

Tilt festival (UK)

The association “Les Rencontres de Danse Aérienne”, Fred Deb' and her team would like to thank the individuals, organizations, communities and partners who support this 10th edition.
the associative project

For several years, LRDA has been conducting a long term pedagogical reflection on the territory by investing in cultural action. It offers internships throughout the department during school holidays or on certain weekends.

More broadly, the team is currently working closely with the city of Saint-Nazaire on a project for a venue dedicated to Circus Arts, called La Volière, finally in September 2020 the city gave to LRDA a location to develop this ambitious project.

The purpose of “La Volière” is to offer everyone the opportunity to practice contemporary circus disciplines and to work on structuring the circus arts sector in conjunction with local, national and international networks.

Its ambition is to reach a local audience in the context of amateur practice and a national or even international audience in the context of professionalization.