‘Cavalia’: An experience like no other

For an unforgettable experience, see 'Cavalia' under the Big

What do you get when you take 50 stunning, superbly trained
horses (10 breeds), 120 top-notch performers and handlers, a
10-story tall white big top, a stage as wide a football field and
2,500 tons of sand, just for starters? You get

Cavalia

a sensational experience that is like no other.
What do you get when you take 50 stunning, superbly trained horses (10 breeds), 120 top-notch performers and handlers, a 10-story tall white big top, a stage as wide a football field and 2,500 tons of sand, just for starters? You get “Cavalia” a sensational experience that is like no other.

The fact that I feel that most anything with four legs and a tail is usually worth more than anything on two legs really has nothing to do with my take on this magnificent production. The presentation isn’t flawless, but intricate handling and interacting with man/woman and horse – for those who understand and appreciate horses – is an unusual mix that will waft in the recess of the mind long after the performance is over.

For those not familiar with horses, the presentation – especially the first act – might seem a little redundant and slow. The dressage routines are done to perfection and seem simple, but they are not. Hours of training and patience are given for the perfection involved. Just looking at these exquisite giants – no matter what they are doing – is a glimpse into another dimension of ultimate beauty.

Sylvia Zerbini takes nine animated, unbridled Arabians through a choreographed routine that would make the Rockettes dizzy. She does not carry a crop or whip – she just moves a finger, tilts her head. Her body language is so subtle that one hardly notices she is doing anything but keeping out of the way of the prancing hooves; she will once in a while whisper an endearing chant (if you are sitting close enough to hear).

When her most affectionate buddy wafts off to where he is not supposed to be, she gives him a look and a puff of sand, and he gets into line, with a good-natured nuzzle. Talk about horse whisperer – this seems more like horse ESP. This is a heady, breathtaking encounter.

Nothing seems forced. All the horses go through their routines, emitting a wonderful feeling of warmth for their handlers. The trainers show care and affection in return for their charges. It’s a relationship between man and animal not often seen in the performing arena. There is a respect for each other and the human/equine bond is enchanting.

Combining a Cirque-like atmosphere with a kaleidoscope of six talented musicians – and the signature Cirque singer delivering Michel Cusson’s original score – with a melding of acrobats, aerial ballet, Roman Post riding and every other kind of riding with the four legged counterparts brings us into an area of awe and something we have never witnessed before.

Beautifully dressed in Mireille Vachon’s flowing medieval capes and coverings, both horse and rider make a visual artistic masterpiece.

“Cavalia” is for everyone, especially children. With innocence and open minds, they embrace what is offered without question. Whether you are into horses or not, this is an elevated experience that should not be missed.

An encounter to beauty on this plane is something our hearts and minds would be better for in this day and age.

‘Cavalia’

When: Tuesdays through Sundays through Dec. 12

Where: Under the Big White Top, adjacent to AT&T park-San Francisco at Fourth and China Basin streets

Tickets: $29.50- $64.50 ($239.50 special packages); Special pricing available for children and seniors, (65+)

Details: (866) 999-8111 or visit www.cavalia.net

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