What is Cavalia? And what’s all the hype?

Anyone else noticed those posters all around town with the big white horse on them?  I started seeing them a few weeks ago but didn’t really pay much attention.  But this week, they’re suddenly everywhere: at bus stops, on billboards and in the newspapers.

Ah . . . the power of repetition.  I guess that’s how marketing works.  So I finally broke down this week and did a little homework on the mysterious white horse.  I’m glad I did.

The posters are for Cavalia, a horse-based acrobatic spectacular by one of the creators of Cirque du Soleil.  The show rolls into town on March 22 and runs until April 10.  You might have already noticed the massive white tent set up next to Olympic Village where Cavalia will be staged.

Now, I know that circus shows can sometimes make animal lovers cringe.  Trained bears, prancing elephants and tigers jumping through hoops are definitely not my thing.  But it turns out that Cavalia is quite different.

The show, which features 37 performers and 49 horses, is focused on the unique bond between people and animals.  Trainers communicate with the incredible animals – which include the white Arabian horses in the posters, as well as Criollos, Belgians and quarter horses – through a precise language of whistles and whinnies and subtle physical cues.  In fact, the people in the show have been likened more to “horse whisperers” – endowed with an intuitive ability to speak with their animals – than traditional trainers.   Here’s a clip about Cavalia from YouTube:

The fast-paced, two-and-a-half hour production features some highly choreographed and visually stunning routines.   Often working without any kind of saddle or bridle, costumed performers race around the ring, doing flips and elegant stands on the horses.  There’s elaborate dressage and even an equine Rockette number.  A dramatic musical score, as in almost all Cirque du Soleil productions, lends extra intensity.

But for most viewers, the most powerful part of the program is when the horses are allowed to run free and riderless.  The signature Arabian horses, with their flowing white manes, trace out elaborate patterns on the floor, circling round and round to the commands of their trainer.

Has anyone seen Cavalia before?  Please share any feedback about the show.

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