Santa Barbara’s 65-degrees and sunny weather will just have to take a break this weekend as Flip Fabrique blows in with their latest eight-member production, “Blizzard.” Set to take the Granada Theater stage on February 9, the Québec-based troupe will take the audience through a story they are all too familiar with – winter.
“’Blizzard’ (is a) journey of winter where you lose your conceptions,” said Hugo Oullet-Côté, FLIP Fabrique tour director and co-founder. “There’s a loss of consciousness, where you don’t really know what to do. We’re exploring what it means to lose yourself.”
Following a group of friends as they travel through a winter storm, the harrowing narrative will feature everything from aerial displays and elaborate juggling sequences to hula hoops and acrobatics.
Their biggest draw, however, is a trampoline routine, for which the company is famous around the world. Throughout the death-defying act, acrobats throw themselves into the air only to be tossed again by the what’s known as the “tramp-wall.”
‘Blizzard’ began its tour in Amsterdam and the United Kingdom in July 2019. After a residency in Montreal, the show is now making its way through the United States.
Coming off of a weeklong tour through the California coast, this Sunday’s performance marks FLIP Fabrique’s second visit to Santa Barbara, though this time the group hopes to push their limits farther than before.
“This show is more poetic, more metaphoric,” said Mr. Oullet-Côté. “There’s a beautiful image around it. Our artists have also been pushed farther in the creation. We keep our playfulness from previous performances, but it’s more mature.”
Apart from poetry in motion, the troupe also hopes to add another element to this production – comedy. Bringing a little piece of home wherever they go, the Canadian-born performers like to give the crowd a sneak peek into what seems to be Québec’s endless winter.
“There’s funny parts of the show, too, like what it’s like to touch a pole with your tongue in the winter,” said Mr. Oullet-Côté. “Or what it’s like to have one meter of snow on the ground at all times and be really tired for six months.
“It’s nice we can share that part of our lives.”
For FLIP’s core founders, Québec has been a part of their lives, and the company’s, for years. After meeting one another at a Canadian circus school, the group formed a fast friendship. As time went on, they continued to train with one another, even going on to spend their professional careers together working with top companies such as Cirque du Soleil and Cirque de Éloize.
Within these troupes, the group toured around the world, honing their craft alongside some of the best circus had to offer. Still, they began to seek something else – a voice. While the performers always had a say in their art, they longed for a larger role in the creation process.
“When you’re in larger companies, you can’t decide what you are going to be doing on stage,” said Mr. Oullet-Côté. “FLIP Fabrique gave us the freedom to what we wanted and how we wanted to do it.”
With a new path in mind, the friends split off from their larger companies in 2011 to form something distinctly their own. Since then, the troupe has held more than a 1,000 performances in more than 21 countries and participates in circus festivals around the world.
Together, they created a show devoted to expressing their enduring connection.
“We wanted to transmit our friendship from the stage to the audience,” said Mr. Oullet-Côté. “We have strong relationships that we like to share.”
Now, each performer plays a key role helping productions take shape.
“All of us ask the artists what they want to do in the show,” said Mr. Oullet-Côté. “(This way) we can fulfill their dreams or their ideas that they have wanted to see happen for a while.”
Fortunately, every one of those artists has an extensive background to offer. Like Mr. Oullet-Côté, who specializes in aerial straps and tramp-wall acrobatics, each performer is as multi-talented as the last.
This makes the creation process a game of give and take, where artists can try something new without fear of judgment or mistake.
“As much as you give to the creation the creation gives you back,” said Mr. Oullet-Côté. “Surprises happen and moments will create from their own.”
“(FLIP) gives us the liberty to try without being scared to propose crazy ideas.”
Tickets for FLIP Fabrique’s February 9 performance at Granada Theater start at $41 and can be purchased at artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. The show will begin at 6:30 p.m. Granada Theater is located at 1214 State St.