I had no expectations heading into Montreal’s red carpet opening of Cavalia, in the Quartier DIX-30. I knew that this touring show has been touted as a huge deal (over 2.5 million people have gone to see it). And as a formerly passionate horseback rider, I was eager to see my favorite animal, but hesitant about the whole “big-top” thing… In the end, with 59 spectacular horses from all over the world, this show blew me away. Between the impressive lighting, the absolutely huge tent (the 26,264 square feet space is pretty impressive- the horses have enough room to actually move at a full gallop) and the use of interesting effects, this was not just a bunch of circus acts (although the acrobats featured are extremely talented). Instead, it was a fascinating demonstration of what horses can do, how beautiful they are and how the bond between these animals and humans can truly be palpable.
My recommendations: Well, from a style standpoint, don’t wear high heels and don’t wear a short skirt (I did both and neither are practical when climbing grated stands); Stick around for the second half because it is totally the best part; And be sure to put your cameras and cells away, as there is someone with a laser pointer searching the audience for defectors.
My criticisms: There is no photography at all. While I get it (flashes could upset the horses), I think in this day and age, a no flash-photography policy would be a happy compromise and would allow viewers to share their experience (via facebook, twitter, etc) more effectively, which it turn would serve to promote the show. In addition, the actual show is quite long which may not work for everyone…
My observations: Okay, so firstly horses are the coolest. Sounds rudimentary, but I cannot get over how amazing these creatures are and how elegantly they move. Secondly the horses in this particular show are trained so spectacularly by the equestrian training team Aillaud, Pignon and Delgado, that it is hard to believe that every horse can’t do what the Cavalia animals can do (and believe me, they can’t). Secondly, the visual effects were beautiful. The creative vision is expertly executed and I was taken in by the movement through the seasons and the colors that splashed across the elaborate set. Finally, the costumes, designed by Manon Desmarais and Mireille Vachon, were beautiful, filled with different cultural references like the cowboy and the Samurai. The use of draping fabrics in these costumes was amazing. It helped the audience (or at least me) feel the movement in the costume, as if riding the horses along with performers.
When asked about the attendees at the show, Cavalia publicist extraordinaire, Bradley Grill, said that 40% of the people who attend Cavalia are “horse-people.” After seeing the show, I`ll bet that the other 60% have been converted.
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