Marin Arts Magazine

A Magical Encounter Between Horse and Man

by Melinda Darlington-Bach

CavaliaAre you prepared to take a magical, mystery trip? With the raising of the multi-spired White Big Top, the largest touring tent in existence at the AT&T Park, the spectacular, experiential show Cavalia has arrived to enchant, surprise and entertain the entire family.

From the minute the two tiny foals run freely across the stage in the mist, the audience collectively knew they were in for an unusual dreamlike journey. What follows is an extravagant production that includes highly innovative wrap around multi media projection screens and holograms, 50 horses of assorted breeds and 40+ performers with live musicians. The spectacle unfolds with a narrative supported by ever-changing backdrops, demonstrating how over the centuries, the development of man's relationship with the horse has taken many forms. We see how the horse has become a close companion, used for transportation, in sports and for protection.

In order to create a performance of this magnitude, but always keeping in mind for the audience a total immersion experience, no one is located further than 50 feet from the performance arena. The true visionary responsible for this magnificent show is President and Artistic Director, Normand Latourelle. Having had the pleasure of spending time with the charming Mr. Latourelle, it is abundantly clear that his heart and love of nature and horses fueled his desire to create an equestrian historical "grand poem for the eyes." His great care and love for the horses is demonstrated by how carefully the animals are transported from each venue in a massive private jet. The customized Boeing jet has specially designed stalls with veternarians with highly trained transport teams. Ever vigilant of the treatment of the Cavalia horses, the animals are only worked one hour a day and are allowed to "play" for two. They have a personalized diet, showers, grooming and many well-deserved massages.

One of the highlights of the show is Sylvia Zerbini and Grande Liberté. She appears with nine unbridled majestic white and grey Arabians who do her bidding with only voice and hand commands. At the end of her performance, the whole audience jumped to their feet for a well deserved standing ovation. Another thrilling section, flanked by the ever changing scrim denoting ancient Rome and the Colosseum, is the triumphant entrance of the gladiators. Standing up on the "chariot's" made up of four to six horses tied together, the skilled performers race around at top speed in circles and patterns in friendly competition.

Cavalia is truly a breathtaking production in its entirety. Embrace this tour of magic and wonder, suitable for the whole family. It is truly a show not to be missed!

Photo credit: Jean-François LeBlanc

~ Marin Arts Magazine, October 2010