Anticipation and excitement had
been building for me as I awaited the arrival of Cavalia. I was
elated when I was asked to represent the Bay Area Equestrian
Network as a reporter for the invitation-only media event held
to introduce Cavalia and its cast to bay area news agencies.
Along with a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle and two
television network reporters (ABC & NBC), I was given the
grand tour and introduced to the equine stars.
Normand Latourelle, one of the founders of Cirque Du Soleil, “Cavalia” is a thrilling
blend of artistry, ballet, acrobatics, theater, poetry, magic
and excellent horsemanship. The tent that houses the
performances is over nine stories high and looks like Denver’s
Airport. With over 12 thousand square feet of canvas and over
800 tons of sand on stage, it is overwhelming. A 200-foot wide
screen displays images from more than two dozen projection
cameras during the show. Cavalia features twenty-one riders and
acrobats from around the world performing with their partners,
33 horses representing five different breeds. This equestrian
troupe consists of all stallions and geldings, with no mares.
The beautiful equine stars range in age from 4 months to 17
When the trainers Frederic
Barrette and Magalie Delgado (who are Co-Directors of the show)
brought a few horses into a sandlot to play, I was amazed by
what I saw. Having been around horses my whole life, I am not
easily impressed by horse trainers. Expecting to see old-style
circus trainers whipping their horses into submission or forcing
them to perform tricks, I was pleasantly amazed and surprised to
see the love between the riders and animals. The horses were
given the opportunity to run free, after being transported by
air from Canada to Los Angeles and then trucked to San
Francisco. I expected the horses to run as far from the trainers
as they could gallop, enjoying their new-found freedom. Instead,
the horses immediately ran to their trainers, awaiting the
attention and love which they quickly received.
Yes, they performed tricks for
me, but it was obvious these horses and riders were having fun.
They were not as much performing as they were playing together.
My excitement continued to build. Frederic
prefers to play and
treats the horses with respect and tenderness, speaking to them
through imperceptible body gestures, and getting them to perform
by simple clucking sounds.
knew immediately that this was not going to be a circus act with
horses, but an emotional event with a story. Eager to please
their trainers (with no reward other than love and affection),
the horses put on a show for me in a parking lot full of sand
and base rock. I was thrilled with this performance, witnessing
a remarkable bond between horses and humans. Dressed in jeans
and plain clothes, the horses' manes still braided for travel, I
got to see the interactions of humans and powerful beasts
enjoying each others' presence. Without the aid of bridles or
bits, they danced, ran and played, as did my imagination of what
the coming show was going to be. This was without the lights,
the live music, and the choreography, and this was amazing.
I asked Magalie (who is married
to Frederic) what would I see at the show, and she replied, “A
secret.” But I knew from her smile that this was not a
carnival sideshow line to trick me out of a few dollars. This
was going to be an event filled with emotions and mystique. I
was given a press release and video clip of the show from
Canada, where over 110,000 tickets were sold in Toronto and
Montreal. The video made it obvious to me that the real stars
are the horses, in a setting filled with awe-inspiring feats and
spectacles of art and agility.
Frederic have worked
together for over 14 years, but married just last year. She told
me with her French accent, "We have to be married. We spend
every minute together and horses is all we talk of." When
asked, "Which is easier to train, horses or your
husband?" she smiled and laughingly said, "My husband
is hard to train, but horses are easy." With this being the
first show in the U.S., I asked Magalie if she was excited to be
here? She replied, “Oh, yes, even the horses are glad to be
here. The warm weather and beautiful blue skies are incredible.”
The temperature in Montreal was eighteen degrees when they left.
But I knew there was true excitement to be performing for a U.S.
audience. Magalie said her first time on a horse was at age
three and she has been riding ever since. Most of the horses in
the show are from her family's horse breeding farm in France.
She said her first show was at age 8, when she performed tricks
she had taught her horse for her own family.
in the stables, feeling the electricity and buzz of the workers,
was clearly raising my anticipation and desire to see the show.
Beautiful horses being pampered, groomed, and loved was the
agenda as people were scurrying to feed, muck stalls, and
turning horses out to play. Each horse has approximately two
hours of play time a day and an average of only one hour of
practice each day. Where do I sign up? I was in awe of these
handsome stallions, especially Templado, who is clearly the
alpha. Templado is a household name in France, where he has
performed for hundreds of thousands of fans and has had books
written about him. To braid Templado's mane takes 90 minutes.
This is the kind of celebrity that gets my attention. As he
contentedly munched on his meal, Templado did raise his head to
acknowledge my presence, unlike most Hollywood stars.
I was glad to see the stage is
built so close to the seats, for close-up views for everyone.
This will be a spectacular event of choreographed precision,
designed to flood all your senses with jaw-dropping awe. If you
enjoyed Cirque Du Soleil and you love horses, this is the event
to see. If you haven’t seen Cirque Du Soleil and love horses,
you’re in luck. This will amaze you even more. Purchase
your tickets quickly because there is already talk of these
troops hoofing it to L.A. soon. Please see show dates and times
posted on Cavalia's beautiful web