REVIEW: Cavalia

An authentic, magical experience of humans and horses in harmony

Many performers exemplify beauty and strength, but it’s the rare gem that exudes humility amid standing ovations and cheers. Yet it seems Normand Latourelle has stumbled upon a treasure trove of gleaming rubies and sapphires for his show, Cavalia. 

His four-legged stars—Arabians, Lusitanos, Percherons and other horses—opened Cavalia on September 21 to a crowd of 2,000. If you weren’t a horse aficionado prior to the show, the tight, synchronized stepping of a dozen or so white beauties surely won you over. Or, if it wasn’t the technical skill, then the powerful free-spirited circling certainly tugged at your heart.

Normand Latourelle, co-founder of Cirque de Soleil, took bits and pieces from the popular acrobatics show to craft a display of mutual love and appreciation between his four-legged and two-legged performers. Similar to Cirque de Soleil, Latourelle uses New Age vocals and music, as well as multimedia imagery and projections, to transport the audience through time and seasons.

And of course, there are acrobatics.  Somersaults off a horse’s back, performers twisting and turning while hoisted up on a wire—but no amount of flexibility, timing, and skill on the humans’ part could match the enchantment of their counterparts’ powerful strides and free-flowing manes.

The coupling of human and horse was inspiring. Though adoration and praise bordered on cheesy at times (like the woman scooping water for the horse to drink), the proud pats and whispers of encouragement shared between the sets of performers after each completed trick showed the dependence each has on the other and demonstrated phenomenal teaming.

For the most part, the horses themselves were willing performers. Yet their independent spirits sometimes diverge from the script, which in and of itself provides for some fun. In one act, the horses were told to run clockwise, and then counterclockwise and so forth. After a time one horse would choose to diverge from the group, at which point they would be swished back into order. Yet Latourelle has allotted for things like this and has given each act enough time to make sure all the performers have a chance to get it right, even if that means exhausting a trick beyond it’s moment.

But it’s the beauty and fascination of seeing these majestic horses only a few feet from you—missteps and all—that make Cavalia a celebration of teamwork and sportsmanship between a beautiful animal and a highly skilled performer.

Through Sunday, October 16
Located in the White Big Top near the Shops at West End at I-394 and Highway 100, St. Louis Park