Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cavalia, Melbourne July 23, 2013 *****

Cavalia: A Magical Encounter between Human and Horse
White Big Top, Docklands, July 23 until August 18, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 23
Review also published in Herald Sun online on July 25, 2013 and later in print. KH

  Le Miroir

Cavalia will leave you gaping at its exuberant, elegant and thrilling celebration of the beauty, grace and muscularity of horses and humans.

Inside an enormous White Big Top, gentle, mesmerising, lyrical acts counterpoint audacious, red-blooded feats of speed and dexterity that are all performed amongst atmospheric video projections providing landscape and story.

Created by Normand Latourelle (co-creator of Cirque du Soleil) and directed by Erick Villeneuve with their Quebec-based company, Cavalia is an inspired and original production that boldly explores the boundaries of equestrian and circus entertainment.

The astonishing thing is that this company of 48 horses and 36 humans displays jaw-dropping virtuosity while still engaging the audience with their charm and direct communication.

The program includes exceptional riding, masterly ground and aerial acrobatics, eclectic dance and evocative live music with the flavours of Spain and France.

The quieter, enthralling acts include the stylish La Vida in which two men ride stately, controlled white steeds as two women float above them as if suspended in space, and the ethereal Le Miroir in which two mediaeval Guineveres mirror each other on noble beasts.

The Discovery is a sweet, intimate relationship between girl and horse while Libertad is a romantic and skilful aerial straps duo.

Other acts highlight the exceptional training of these magnificent beasts and the trust and control that exists between rider and horse, such as in the magical Haute Ecole and Pieds Percussion, and the exquisite Carousel that is set amongst the mists of Avalon.

This uncanny relationship between horse and human is seen in the consummate powers of the horse whisperer who imperceptibly instructs six, gloriously unfettered horses in Grande Liberté.

The crowd cheers the daring Bareback Riding, and the ferociously exhilarating Roman Riding with its fearless performers standing astride two horses as they pound around the Colosseum.

The exciting, comical and dangerous escapades of Trick Riding titillate the audience as the intrepid riders gallop across the stage in an intoxicating, hectic display of risk and dexterity.

But it is the dazzling finale that sends the excitometer over the top as aerialists fall from the sky on bungee cords, trick riders tear fearlessly across the space, acrobats climb into impossible balances and the horses do it all effortlessly.

The visual design (Villeneuve) provides some remarkable imagery that includes mediaeval halls, Roman friezes and aquaducts, cave paintings, ancient forests and an imperious stallion magically projected onto falling rain.

In Cavalia, there is a feeling of a community on stage, with humans treating horses with respect and love and the animals responding in kind. Cavalia is inexplicably beautiful and intoxicating.

By Kate Herbert

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