FLIP Fabrique, performers for the first time at the International Festival of Children’s Arts, presents the cool and acrobatic Blizzard
Here in St. Albert, we live with winter for six months of the year or more. Either we hibernate or we shovel snow and moan about it endlessly. But do we really understand the many nuances of winter?
Despite our dreaded experiences, the Quebec circus company FLIP Fabrique, in its first appearance at the International Festival of Children’s Arts from June 2 to 5, will reveal to us a poetic side of winter.
FLIP Factory Snow storm is more than just an arctic high sweeping the Prairies in darkness, dispersing high winds and blowing snow. The hour-long production reveals the magic and humor of Canadian winters as seen from coast to coast.
“Snow storm is an ode to Canadian winters. There is no script. You see people covering themselves with scarves, schools closed during snowstorms and people having snow fights. In terms of storytelling, Snow storm is a series of short vignettes. These are chapters of images,” said artistic director Bruno Gagnon.
A devoted graduate of the École de cirque de Québec, Gagnon toured with Cirque du Soleil from 2005 to 2008.
” I did what I could. But after 1,600 performances of a show, I wondered if I should stay or move. I was 24 at the time,” said Gagnon, whose creative juices were in dire need of a fresh adrenaline rush.
“In my mind, I needed to create all the time and do a show that we wanted to do the way we wanted to do it. [it],” he said.
Gagnon announces that he is founding a new troupe and the circus artists of his old school quickly join him. In general, the colleagues wanted to develop high-level acrobatics while delivering a humorous story and having fun.
The company agent first introduced the idea of Snow storm by requesting a show for each season. But when Gagnon discovered that a French circus troupe was developing the same concept, the idea was dropped. Instead, the creators focused on presenting a winter spectacle, a theme familiar to all Canadians.
“In this case, brainstorming became something else.”
Snow storm opened in Amsterdam in 2019, selling out 130 shows in the first nine months. A popular fixture at Fringe festivals, the hour-long show combines acrobatics, aerial dancing, rollerblading, juggling, music, visual theater and a healthy dose of clowning. Props range from hand-sized balls to a huge rectangular Plexiglas cube that can accommodate multiple acrobats.
“It’s contemporary circus for the whole family. There are two levels of fun. Kids love it like crazy, but there’s an added element of fun for adults too.
The performers include seven acrobats as well as pianist-composer Ben Nesrallah. He has composed a score that highlights the beauty, poetry, darkness and spirit of winter. Throughout the show, Nesrallah performs live, tightly linking the rhythm of the music to the movements and timing of the acrobats.
“He’s an amazing pianist. The music has a classical vibe, but it doesn’t feel like a recital. It’s a fusion, a mix of music and sound,” Gagnon said. He added that the piano is a one-of-a-kind instrument equipped with loop pedals, drawers and a smoke machine.
For Gagnon, there is one major thing he hopes audiences take away: “Every time we produce a show, on some level, we hope it will change your life or the way you think. If that happens, we’ve done our job. If you see Snow storm, you will see the world differently and that is what we do. Our goal is to change people’s lives.
Snow storm will take place June 2-5 at the Arden Theatre. Tickets are $13 plus fees and are available online at www.stalbert.ca/exp/childfest/ or at the Arden box office at 780-459-1542.