Earlier this week, my sister and I went to see Cavalia in Burbank to celebrate our birthdays. We were born on the same day six years apart, and have made a tradition of getting together and doing something memorable to commemorate the day each year. Since past years have included Disneyland visits and trips to New York and Cancun, Cavalia had a lot to live up to – and it didn’t disappoint!
Cavalia, devised by the co-creator of Cirque du Soleil, is an exhilarating combination of equestrian talent and human acrobatics. The show features horses elegantly galloping and prancing while gymnasts deftly perform tricks on their backs and aerial artists alight from their saddles. A transforming, projected background reflected the atmosphere of each act, along with a magnificent musical score.
To be honest, I have a great love and respect for horses and I’ve cringed in the past seeing them severely mastered in circus shows. This was nothing like that. The bond between the trainers and their horses was obvious, and the trainers patiently worked with the horses on-stage until the animals were ready to perform each trick. It helped immensely that the music was live, so choruses were easily repeated if a horse needed an additional few moments to prepare for a lofty jump. The occasional misstep only made the show seem more authentic, particularly when you consider the difficulty in getting flighty stallions to perform on cue.
My favorite act by far was the Grande Liberté, which features Sylvia Zerbini (the “horse whisperer” of the show) masterfully commanding nine halterless Arabians with mere voice commands and hand gestures. Her philosophy is admirable. “Cavalia is not a circus. It’s a production built around the relationship between people and horses,” she says. “If we ask the horses to work with us, if we listen to what they’re feeling, we get so much more out of them.”
Cavalia is showing in Burbank through mid-February, and I highly recommend going to see it if you get the chance. I’m extremely thankful to the Cavalia team for providing my family and I an opportunity to review the show as part of my work with San Diego Bargain Mama.