I'd heard about a show that was supposed to be like Cirque du Soleil but with horses. Since everything is better with horses, I had to get tickets for the BF and me. I was sure glad I did!
It was called Cavalia and it was really magical. BF and I went with friends who are also into horses and ponyplay. We had great seats - in the third row! It was wonderful to get to see the horses up close. We were off to the stage right side, so we were right by the entrance/exit. The audience was full of little girls clutching stuffed horses (the merch tent was doing a land office business in stuffed horses, let me tell you.) And they were so cute, of course I wanted one! But it's more Stuff so I didn't indulge myself. I am considering asking my friends who are going later this week to get me the program though, it doesn't take up much space and I know I will enjoy looking at it and it will help me remember the show more clearly. Which was AMAZING!
The stage was a multi level oval ring covered in sand, with a section at center front that could be closed and turned into a smaller round ring. A big scrim covered the back wall.
It began with music, and horses walking out with no tack, just along the front area in front of the curtain. There were toy hobby horses scattered about in the sand and the horses went up to them and sniffed them, one picked up a hobby horse and carried it a ways, then set it down again. Very cute. Two acrobats did balancing tricks which I barely saw... too busy watching the horses. But people clapped for them.
The company came out in their costumes, which were cool but which I really didn't see too much of as I was still mesmerized by the horses. (You know the old theater saying: never go on stage with animals or children - so true!) They crossed the stage, picking up the toy horses, and followed the horses offstage.
In the next scene, the horses were just wandering around the big oval. After a few moments, people came out and began chasing the horses, but they didn't catch them. Then most of the horses and people went off, leaving only a lone horse wandering around, beautifully silhouetted as the stage lights went down and a performer entered with a flaming torch. The horse went off and the performer did a routine on a big ball - flips etc - very cool. I watched and applauded, all the while awaiting the return of the horses. (The only other time there were no horses on at all was for a complex and stunning routine later on with three people doing rope work at once, on ropes that were raised and lowered throughout their routine. At that point I was actually relieved to be able to watch the scene without being distracted by horses!)
Next came a white horse with mane and tail with darker shading, still wandering freely without tack. A dancer appeared, wearing a flowing costume that was dyed to match the coloring of the horse - soft grey shading at the edges of the sleeves and hem. She danced with the horse as it moved about the stage. Beautiful! I assume she was also giving it cues as to where to go, etc - I could occasionally hear the sounds the trainers used to communicate. They were also using hand signals.
I'll never remember the whole show, as there was no real plot - it just flowed from scene to scene. So many amazing visions! It seemed to look at horses in the history of various cultures. The images projected on the back scrim would change, and the costumes would change too. There was also a lot of just free form beautiful stuff.
It's impossible to choose a favourite scene - there was so much incredible imagery, and the horses were all stunning. I loved the scene in the smaller circular ring with two white horses with a man and a woman on each one. The horses went round and round the ring, and the women balanced on their backs in various ways, then they leaned off them into space - which would have been impossible except that they were wearing wires that went up into the flys. Eventually the wires were pulled up and the two women were flying round the ring from the momentum created by the horses, their costumes flowing behind them. At first they were holding hands and flying together, then eventually letting go and flying apart - so entrancing! Then the wires were lengthened and they landed back on the horses, only to fly off again. It was so gorgeous I almost cried (really - I sometimes cry when I see really beautiful dance. It makes me feel somehow wistful, almost like being very homesick.) With the ethereal flowing music I could have watched it all day. Stunning!
Another cool part was the Roman riding scene. I was expecting Roman riding (a rider stands on the backs of two horses with one foot on each) as Joseph found the blog of someone in the show and she mentioned it. What I did not expect was three Roman teams all going 'round the big oval course (fast too) nor did I expect them to *jump* the teams! Spectacular. At one point, the woman whose blog I read was given the reins for another team, so she was racing round the stage with four in hand, standing on the backs of the trailing team. She was fabulous, a really good performer and clearly into what she was doing. She looked like Xena standing up there, her long black hair flowing in her wake. During all of this there were acrobats doing things and as she passed them she'd give a little yip of encouragement (which also helped draw attention to the poor acrobats, who were working so hard and being totally upstaged by the riding.) Her name is Karen Turvey and she has a site called Equine Extremist. She was so energetic and fun to watch - of course I wanted to *be* her!
I also remember a scene with two women in flowing split skirts and long falls of bright red bouncy spiral ringlet curls that hung to the tops of their hips doing fancy dressage moves on white horses - a very pretty picture, with the curls bouncing with the horses' gaits. There was also a scene with 6 people in Chinese influenced costumes all riding on white horses and executing complex formations.
There was also a woman on a white horse doing Lippizanner type gaits and moves, a section where the head trainer worked three white horses in dressage moves with no tack, and an astonishing high speed trick riding segment with the horses barrelling across the front of the stage, just feet from us! It was amazing and almost a little scary. The horses were so incredibly beautiful and powerful.
All in all an amazing experience. I spent half the show with my mouth hanging open, half clutching BF's hand in amazement, and half applauding enthusiastically. If it wasn't so expensive I'd want to go again tomorrow! As it is it will be hard to be good and not try to go again. If you like horses and/or Cirque type performances I reccommend it highly.