Sep. 19, 2012 - Issue #883: Best of Edmonton 2012
Under the Big White Top that's taken up residence at the City Centre Airport for the past month is Cavalia, a one-of-a-kind production showcasing the unique history and bond between human and horse.
The lavish production is the creation of Normand Latourelle, whose credits include being one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil. Cavalia stands apart, however, and the show combines music, multimedia, acrobatics, dance and a whole lot of trick riding on a 160-foot stage. The vast space allows horses room to play and perform in a more natural context, bringing out their personality and often allowing them to run completely free.
Among the 48 beautifully cared for horses—strictly stallions and geldings—are two local foals from Leduc, AB, who make their debut during the show's prologue.
The storyline driving the show is a subtle one, allowing the performers and horses to capture the spotlight. The bond and trust between the two is palpable throughout the big top, creating a captivating visual for the audience that is enhanced further through live music and imagery projected on the screen encompassing the width of the stage.
The horses are controlled only through voice commands and hand gestures, and for the majority of the show, behaved exactly as their trainers expected. There were a couple of instances where one horse would decide to go rogue from a formation, but it added a touch of humour rather than being detrimental. There were a few mishaps with acrobatics, but given the context, which involved backflips on a running horse, it's forgivable. The acrobat is to be given credit for getting back on, attempting the trick again, and landing it perfectly.
While Cavalia does deliver in terms of Cirque du Soleil-worthy acrobatics, there are moments where horsmanship takes focus with dressage or formations conducted with no bridles or reins, simply a trainer instructing the horses. If you are not a horse person and have no knowledge of dressage or other riding techniques, this may be difficult to appreciate in its full context, but is visually interesting nonetheless. There were points in the show that were a touch slow at the beginning, but things took off in the second act, incorporating breathtaking trick riding and aerial acrobatics that drew Cavalia to a stunning conclusion.
Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse
Until Sun, Oct 21 (held over to Oct 28)
The Big White Top at City Centre Airport, $39.50 – $124.50
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