Hot to Trot

There are horse people -- those who describe the beauty and power of beasts with a vaguely erotic inflection -- and those that go “meh.” Few horse shows can convert the latter -- in Europe, there is Bartabas’ Zingaro Equestrian Theater housed in the Great Stables of the Palace of Versailles. In Asia, there’s the phenomenal Mongolian Huh Tolboton. On this continent, there is Cavalia, created by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Normand Latourelle. Since its 2004 U.S. premiere in San Francisco, Cavalia has doubled its cast. The show involves 47 animals and 38 riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers, and musicians, playing against an array of lavish digital backdrops. While the show may suffer, like its all-human progenitor, from forced sentimentality and a treacly musical score, it is set apart from Western horse expos by a 160-foot-wide stage. Instead of performing in a ring, these horses have room to gallop, which makes the acrobatics -- bungee, trapeze, tumbling, Russian bar, aerial ballet -- more than a bit exciting. For those educated in the finer points of dressage, there are elegant equestrian dances, from a minuet to a pas de deux. For the rest of us, it will be the, ahem, unbridled joy of the animals that is difficult to resist.
Wed., July 18, 2012

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