What do you get when you take 49 stunning, superbly trained horses (11 breeds), that live with gentle love and care, while consuming 17,500 bales of hay, 36,500 pounds of oats and of course 1,750 pounds of carrots annually? Add 120 performers and handlers, a 10-story tall white big top, a specially equipped Boeing 747 (for horse transport), a stage as wide a football field, a stable that spans more than 16,500 square feet and 2,500 tons of sand and you get “Cavalia” – a sensational experience like no other.
You also get the vision of creator and artistic director Normand Latourelle who used his amazing imagination to guide Cirque Du Soleil in its early years. Cirque is a magnificent vegetarian show (no animals), and I asked Latourelle how he came to involve magnificent four-legged creatures in his repertoire. Simply by accident, he offered. He used a horse in one of his productions and realized the animal was a scene stealer. The idea took hold and grew into not one, but two spectacular shows involving horses. “Odysseo” is currently touring Europe.
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 interaction between man/woman and horse – for those that 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 may seem simple, but 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.
Nothing is forced and the all-male cast of remarkable horses go through their routines emitting a wonderful feeling of warmth for their handlers. The trainers show a care and affection in return for their charges. It is a relationship between man/woman and animal that is not often seen in the performing arena. There is a respect for each other and the human/equine bond is captivating.
A kaleidoscope of six talented musicians, a singer and a cellist deliver a full original score against a 200-foot-wide screen that projects backdrops to fit the scene with a melding of acrobats, aerial ballet, Roman post riding and more. The four-legged counterparts awe the audience and this show is something most have never witnessed before.
“Cavalia” is a visual masterpiece and is for everyone – especially children. Their innocence and open minds will 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 with beauty on this level is something our hearts and minds will be better for in this day and age.
Through: Aug. 12
Where: Under the Big White Top, 301 Atmal Way, San Jose
Tickets: $44.50 – $139.50
Details: (866) 999-8111 or visit www.cavalia.net