A scene from Cavalia, playing through Dec. 30 in San Diego.
Nov. 14, 2012
It’s been eight years since the theatrical equestrian touring show Cavalia visited San Diego, and the visually stunning tent show has come a long way (literally and geographically) in the intervening years.
San Diego was one of the first cities Cavalia visited when it premiered in 2004, and since then it has visited more than 50 others worldwide. Developed by Normand Latourelle, who was among the early developers of Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil in the mid-’80s, it combined the music, theatricality and acrobatics of a Cirque show with the pageantry and showmanship of a dressage and trick-riding horse show.
The basic concept of the show — subtitled “A Magic Encounter Between Man and Horse” — hasn’t changed over the years. The plot traces the relationship of man and horse over time, from first discovery and trust-building, to the horse’s role in transportation (from bareback to elegant saddles and tack), athletics and sport (Roman “chariot-style” riding and vaulting), work (pony express), pleasure riding and entertainment (dressage and circus). And many of the show elements are the same — live Flamenco-inspired music, lavish Cossack- and medieval-style costumes, untethered horses galloping free around the arena and gorgeous large-screen environmental graphics of landscapes, trees, the ancient Lascaux cave paintings and architecture, such as the Roman Coliseum.
What has changed is the scope and refinement of the show.