Cavalia A Galloping Success

Photo by Ross A. Benson

“The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.”
– Arabian Proverb

Seeing Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Horse and Human is more than a jaw-dropping feast of Olympic-caliber acrobatics, equestrian derring-do, and surpassing moments of beauty and grace on a 160-foot wide, you-are-there stage. If it were only spectacular entertainment, it would still be worth sacrificing that Lakers game to be underneath the White Big Top land marking Burbank. But it is more. It is a demonstration of what human and horse accomplish together when the horse is trained “based on a philosophy of understanding the horse, rather than requiring the horse to understand the human beings around it”.

NORMAND LATOURELLE, one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil and Cavalia’s President and Artistic Director, says that Cavalla is “the first show that attempts to get the full respect for the animal.” It succeeds. I saw a herd of horses (yes the stage is that big) innocent of bridle and saddle running free yet responding to the merest gesture of the solitary woman among them. These were not animals bending to a command; these were unbroken spirits playing with their friend.

And play they do: jumping a hurdle in tandem with a brave rider astride them both, mimicking each other’s moves as if they were ballerinas, gracefully welcoming the acrobats darting and soaring among them and their riders. Horse and human alike provoke moments of laughter followed immediately by moments of hold-your-breath. These players are not computer-generated images on a screen; they’re giving us classic 3D: a live performance with live music. The backdrop visuals, while possible only with today’s technology, do not upstage the 49 magnificent horses and their 37 human co-performers.

Cavalia transcends its equine subject matter: you’ll want to see it even if you’ve never ventured inside the stables around Griffith Park. (And if you’ve ever had one of those horses go on strike no matter how loud you yelled “giddyup”, behold the other end of the spectrum.) You’ll see demonstrated what animal lovers have always felt in their hearts: When you connect with the nobility of your fellow traveler upon this earth, four-footed or otherwise, you connect with your own.

“CAVALIA is…/An ode to beauty/a freedom fantasy/A hymn to harmony/One step towards a new complicity” — Normand Latourelle

Cavalia Premieres January 19 under the White Big Top, 777 N. Front St., downtown Burbank. Regular tickets range from $69 to $139. For show times, special packages, etc. visit


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