There is something about Big Top events that brings back the thrill and wonderment of childhood at the circus.
Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse opened last night to an over-excited crowd with more than 90% giving a standing ovation at the finale. A truly beautiful and awe inspiring production all round; from the horses, to equestrian and stunt riders, acrobats, aerialists, and musicians, as well as the spectacular set design.
Cavalia is a horse show to end all horse shows. It has equestrian precision, wild stunt riding, and beautiful connections between horse and man. The mixture of equine and the acrobatics are truly unique acts that guaranteed you will have never seen before, like an acrobat doing a somersault on a horse’s back for example.
At times, the horses just amble onto the stage to peacefully graze and play in their ‘natural’ environment, while other times they bolt at lightening speed around the stage, and even dance; in a display of majestic beauty, grace, and power. One act shows a rider standing on the backs of two horses – one foot on each, holding the reins like a chariot while racing around (and jumping over) objects. Another act shows a cowgirl doing incredible things with a lasso. And yet another shows stunt riders zooming across the stage on their steads while performing tricks – truly amazing stuff.
The riders are so skilled and the horses so well trained the mind boggles at just how long it would have taken to put a show like this together.
There is not so much a story-line, but a loose arc of the relationship between man and horse over the ages. So don’t go looking for meaning, it’s more about the emotion and the connection and the spectacular acrobatics and equestrian acts.
There was a part towards the end where the horses were cantering around in a circle in order (well, most of the time), that felt a little long, but really that’s just ‘nit picking’.
All the production elements integrated so well into the whole piece. The evocative Enya-like sounds and exotic tribal rhythms of the five musicians, who were placed on a mezzanine level high above the stage, were highlighted throughout the show via a clever incorporation with the set design and projected scenes.
Students of lighting and set design should go and watch this show as a masterclass on how multi-media and lighting can be used to transform a large essentially fixed set into so many different atmospheric environments; all beautiful – all spectacular. The art of distraction helped to change the set like magic, while at other times, the set design, lighting, and mega-projections were so amazing that it drew the eye and stole the moment.
If you are a horse lover, or even just a bit of a softy you will find yourself welling up for 25% of the show. The atmosphere and emotion that is infused into this production from the very beginning will capture your heart and imagination for the entire evening.
There are a few tips if you are thinking of going to see this show (and you should think about it). Firstly, if you have bad knees, heart, or physical ailment, make sure you book seats down the front. The temporary stair structure is quite a workout. And secondly, arrive up to an hour before to pick up your tickets. I waited 45 minutes for my tickets and it was past showtime before I got them (mind you it was opening night and it was pouring down buckets). Which brings me to my last point, bring an umbrella for the unpredictable weather.
A special Horse Lovers Package is on offer which gives patrons a tour of Cavalia’s stables after the show, and the VIP Rendez-Vous Package that includes a post-show tour of the stables and a cocktail/dinner reception.
Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse is playing until 30 March at the White Big Top at DFO (The Circuit – Brisbane Airport)