Saturday I went to see Cavalia. Cavalia is a production put on the by same people that brought us Cirque du Soleil. Amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, beautiful, enchanting, gorgeous are just a few of the words I would use to describe this show.....those and O.M.G.
I went with Jean, her mother and CA. CA was the only one that had seen Cavalia before, but this show was the newer Cavalia 2, so none of use knew what to expect. Having seen Cirque du Soleil many years ago, I knew the music would be great and the sets visually beautiful and engaging.
The show is done in a tent set up . I am not sure how many people the theatre held, but it couldn't have been more than 3000 people??? The small group made it very intimate. There was no "nose bleed" section. :-) Our seats were in the 2nd row!!! Cameras were not allowed, so the pictures that you see below were taken from reviews of the first production of Cavalia that I found on the Internet.
It's hard to describe the new stage layout. It was maybe 150 feet across, with quite a steep hill at the back of the stage and level at the front. It was covered in black large grain sand, sort of volcanic looking. Sheer curtains with scenes painted on them combined with lights were the backdrops for the different acts. Musicians and singers were located on either side of the stage, one level up.
Imagine my surprise when Arabians, Andalusians, Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and a CANADIAN came galloping out at the beginning of the show. I guess I was expecting matching horses like the RCMP Musical Ride or the Lipizzaners. Their handlers had been waiting in the middle of the stage and the horses galloped around them in a large circle, eventually slowing down to find their specific handler. They then followed their handler in a synchronized sort of dance; no halter, not lead rope, no treats. It was beautiful. Jean started to get teary eyed. :-)
There was an Andalusian horse that just didn't want to participate in one act and kept trotting out of line and wondering about. No one stopped him. They simply worked around him and eventually convinced him through gentle persuasion to participate. There was some stallion attitude evident on more than one occasion. Ears pinned, the odd little kick. But these displays did not detract from the performance. In fact, in my mind they enhanced it. It showed that these horses are still able to be horses even if they are in a show.
This video is of Cavalia I
The sets were stunning and an engineering and lighting marvel. According to CA, this performance is much different from Cavalia I. The sets changed from desert to jungle, through the different seasons and on to fantasy seamlessly. The horses and performers would enter the stage either from the sides or come up over the hill at the back of the stage, making the whole experience 3 dimensional. The music was also wonderful and really set the mood of each Act. The horses did not perform "tricks". Their involvement was more of an enhancement to the acrobatic moves performed by their handlers, while at the same time, the handlers were enhancing the beauty of the horses. The horses moved in a natural and free way. When the horses were being ridden with a saddle, they were either bitless or had snaffle bits. The custom saddles used were a mix of Western and English; the seat and padding were like English, but the stirrups and a horn were Western. I can't be 100% certain, but it looked like all were shod.
I LOVED the show. What impressed me was that these horses were relaxed and having fun. It was gentle. On more than one occasion, at the end of an act, they stood looking at the audience, ears up eyes bright. In fact, I think some of their bouncy kick-up-my-heels behaviour while performing was a direct response to our happiness. :-) Here's a holy-crap-did-I-just-see-that? moment: An acrobat, riding a horse, got out of his saddle, went underneath the horse and out the other side and back into the saddle....AT A GALLOP! I don't know how he didn't get clocked in the head!
During one act, there were 34 horses on stage. 34 horses! Incredible. One scene that actually got me choked up a bit was when they filled the bottom of the stage with water and the horses galloped around free, up the hill, back down and through the water. Stunning.
We were pumped when we left the tent. We were so excited we were talking over each other. :-) So, there are no if, ands, or buts about it. You have to go! You just have to! It will inspire you and only enhance your relationship with your horse. :-) Boy, I want to have that connection with Gem!! I want to be able to run beside him without a lead....OK, OK...maybe not run, but at least jog. :-)