Happy New Year everyone!
Before the old year ended we went to see Cavalia, a Cirque du Soleil spinoff with horses. They have been performing in Atlanta since the end of October and when they were "held over" for additional performances, we grabbed up some good tickets for an afternoon performance. My oldest daughter is a horse nut, so this was an easy choice and a good fit.
I had in my mind an idea of what this show would be, and it turns out my idea was way off. I was thinking of a traditional horse "trick riding" show with some acrobats. Starting with this somewhat biased vision I quickly grew disappointed in the first 15 minutes of the show. I thought it started slow with lots of pointless focus on props and the human performers. In my mind I kept shouting "bring on the horses already." But the problem, as it turns out, was with me and not the performance. This isn't a horse show. This is a performance with horses. This isn't something you'd see at your local livestock show and rodeo. This really is Cirque du Soleil with horses. Once I made that mental shift I was able to see the grace, beauty, and strength in the performance. And we got to see some great trick riding, too.
The show began with the human cast and an appearance by two local colts. In each city Cavalia performs the troupe holds auditions and chooses two local colts to perform in the opening. The colts ran out, played with one of the toy horses on the stage, greeted the human performers, lingered for awhile, then ran off stage. The show continued to be an interesting mix of human and equine performances. The level of training and co-operation from the horses was quite remarkable. There was a "mirror" performance where two identical horses and riders mirrored each others movements. There was roman riding, where not only was each rider standing on top of two horses, but the horses (with riders) jumped over poles. One rider took the reins for another pair of horses and the four-horse team, with rider astride the two in the back, jumped over a pole. There was a sequence where six, and eventually eight, white horses came together in co-ordinated choreography. There was an incredible performance by a single woman with 8 horses off-rein, following her verbal commands in unison. There was a performance by two horses, two riders, and two women suspended by bungees literally flying around and between the horses. The show-stopping finale, of course, was the incredible trick riding. As horses galloped by the audience, the riders would do hand stands, vaults, and any number of other poses inspired by gymnastics.
After the show we were treated to a tour of the stables where we got to see the equine performers up close. Of course at that point they were all far more interested in their feed than in a bunch of visitors. It was a great experience and was enjoyed by all.