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'Cavalia' Debuts Tonight

The unique equestrian show will be in St. Louis Park through Oct. 9.

Beneath a big white tent near something magical is happening. Horses gallop unbridled before a backdrop of stars. At one point, leaves fall; at another, snow. Musicians are hidden and revealed. Acrobats play midair while horses perform a choreographed dance. Everything in "Cavalia" exists as if within a dream.

Created by Normand Latourelle, co-founder of the fantastical Cirque du Soleil, “Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse” celebrates the bond between humans and horses, and the mystery these animals still hold. The sold out Twin Cities premiere is tonight. 

'The Most Beautiful Animal on Earth'

"Cavalia" (pronounced kah-vah-lia) utilizes the talents of 39 acrobats, artists, dancers, riders and musicians, but the indisputable stars of the show are the 43 horses of 10 different breeds. And while "Cavalia" showcases trick riding and choreography, the most breathtaking moment may also be the quietest: when six horses grace the stage slowly, elegantly, and alone.

Even when there are acrobats tumbling from the ceiling and bounding hand over foot across the stage–defying the very laws of physics–it’s the horses, those majestic and graceful creatures, that steal the show. This is by design. In fact, it seems to be the whole point. The unique attraction of these animals was Latourelle’s original inspiration for "Cavalia."

“I did a show in Canada that required one horse as an extra,” Latourelle said. “At the time the horse was coming on stage, there were about 120 performers on stage and the horse was stealing focus from the performers.”

The horse attracted Latourelle’s attention as well. Soon he was adding more and more horses to the performance until he decided to resign completely to the idea, designing a new show that would celebrate what Latourelle calls “the most beautiful animal on Earth.”

A Show About Love 

Since premiering in Quebec in 2003, “Cavalia” has traveled to 41 cities and been seen by nearly three million people. For a show like this to succeed, an authentic bond must exist between the human performers and the horses. Spencer Litwack, who does trick riding and lasso in the show, said it’s all about trust—from both sides.

“It’s a trust for him (her horse, Tad) as much as it is for me,” Litwack said. “He has to trust me to know that I’m not going to let anything bad happen to him and it’s the same vice versa.”

Some have called “Cavalia” an equestrian ballet. Latourelle says that definition comes close, but the show is ultimately difficult to define. 

“It’s really an integration between acrobatics, mixed media, fabulous live music, and playful horses and playful people,” Latourelle said. “And the show is pretty much about love—the bond between humans and horses.”

See For Yourself 

Due to the strong response to “Cavalia” in the Twin Cities—more than 25,000 tickets have already been sold—the show has added an extra week of performances, now closing on October 9. Tickets are available on the show's official website. The show’s producers warn against purchasing tickets elsewhere, as scalper websites have been found selling “Cavalia” tickets for inflated prices. Tickets for “Cavalia” run from $44.50 (a partially obstructed view seat) to $199.50 (the full VIP experience). 

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