We went last night (Saturday). Last time we'd really enjoyed sitting up close, and this time we had even better seats - nearer to the center and in the very first row! It was fabulous to be so close to the horses and performers. I really enjoyed getting to see the show with a little knowledge of what was going to happen. It allowed me to see more of the intricacies of the riding, gaits of the horses, and really appreciate what I was seeing.
One of the head trainers, Magali Delgado, has a horse which she has trained to change leads again and again and again, so it appears to be skipping along. Incredible. Then she does it bareback! I wondered if the people in the audience knew how amazing the horsemanship was, or if they were just enjoying the beautiful imagery. (Some did, judging on applause.) Either way the show is a delight.
The carousel scene (the 6 white horses doing intricate maneuvers, with the riders wearing long flowing Chinese influenced sleeves) had been updated... they still did the long section of side stepping, but when they reached the front of the stage, they aligned the horses in a zig zag line so ever other horse was pointed the opposite direction and then side stepped some more. Stunning. Sitting so close was a real treat, and I got a lot more out of what I saw since I spent less time just being astonished at the pretty picture and more time looking closely at the amazing horsemanship.
It was a real treat seeing Frederic Pignon, the other head trainer, working his gorgeous Lusitano stallions up so close. They do what he asks them to because they want to, it is so apparent. Lovely!
The flying scene brought tears to my eyes... so beautiful! I really could watch that all day long. And now I remember it better when I hear the music for that scene. Just amazing, gorgeous, and one of the few scenes where I found myself watching a human performer when they weren't on horseback or working a horse. And then the music ended and it was over. (sigh...)
And the Roman riding was stunning, so exciting! When Karen Turvey came out with her team, she looked over and winked at me! I'd emailed her after visiting her site, where she mentioned that she likes to hear from her fans. I included a link to my LJ entry about Cavalia, and said I was going to see the show again. She emailed me back with a friendly note, saying I should let her know when I was coming and where I was sitting so she could wave to me, and also that she might be able to give me and the BF a peek into the stables after the show (a treat generally reserved for those people in the really fancy seats.)
This was Friday and I responded immediately but hadn't heard back yet, so I didn't know if she'd gotten my mail. (She's moved her blog over to Livejournal too - she's cavaliatrainer here now!) It was even more exciting to watch her after having communicated. She's a natural performer, so good with the horses and full of energy and enthusiasm.
After the show, we were sitting and waiting for the crowd to clear out and talking about going to a friend's party, when someone I didn't recognize came up and asked if I was M. It turned out to be Karen's husband. She'd sent him out to look for a girl with pink hair so that we could meet and I could go see the horses in their stables! (Yay pink hair! We'd have been almost impossible to find otherwise.) He took us back to the VIP tent and said he'd go let Karen know he'd found us.
The producer came out and addressed the group, talking about the show and answering questions. He said he'd brought Cirque du Soleil to SF in 1988 and knew he wanted to bring Cavalia here as well. He got the idea when producing a historical re-enactment show. There were 150 performers on stage doing various things, and a horse came on and simply walked across the stage. When the horse walked out, suddenly all eyes were on it, never mind all the people performing - and he knew he wanted to do a Cirque type show with horses.
Part of what is so wonderful about this show is that it is clear that the horses are treated well and are *enjoying* what they do. When he saw Frederic with his horses, running along and playing with them he knew this was the heart of the show. He said Frederic doesn't like being called a "horse whisperer" - he says that what he does is *listen to the horses whispering to him*.
As Karen said later, if a horse doesn't want to do something, you can tell. You can't fool people about that. So if a horse doesn't like doing something they either find other work for it, or find a different horse to work with. And the results of this philosophy are apparent in every scene.
So we went back to the stables (they let us take pictures, which I'll be posting later.) So exciting! Karen came out and took me around and told me a bit about each horse. Other people recognized her and came up to ask questions, which she answered. It was fascinating! She was very gracious and kind to everyone.
The horses were beautiful, glossy and obviously well cared for. There are 33 of them travelling with the show, including two foals (who go on at the beginning and nose around with the hobby horses) and a draft horse which doesn't perform yet, he is still in training. Some of them only go on once, and they all have their own specialties. There are Quarter horses, for the fast trick riding, and Roman riding; huge draft horses which run along with two or even three acrobats doing tricks on their backs (seeming not to notice the weight); and of course the Lusitanos.
They were having their long manes braided up so that they wouldn't step on them in the stable. We learned that the reason their manes are so long is that stallions' manes keep growing, because of the testosterone - if you geld a horse his mane stops growing. The white stallion with the longest mane is 17 years old and so beautiful. The youngest of the three that do the bareback dressage is 10.
Karen said they are always updating the show, training the horses to do new things so they don't get bored. I'd like to see it again in a year and see what they've done. I hope it comes back!
They are going to LA next, so if you are in the LA area I highly reccommend checking it out! It's going to be in Glendale, near the Equestrian Center. Go see!
I think that's all I can remember of this amazing night. What a gift to get to see the show again, see the horses up close and meet Karen!