There are approximately 40 minutes of Cavalia that cannot, at all, be adequately summed up in the English language. If you could, somehow, lift from your cheeks the remnants of a tear shed at the precise moment your heart first broke, you might have a sense of how certain acts in this presentation unexpectedly affect you on a cellular level. If you could define the catalyst cause of a goose bump, articulate the contents of a sigh and breakdown the emotional compounds that make up a lump in your throat, you would come close to being able to describe this richly transformative experience. These precious and exhilarating 40 minutes alone, for me, make this opportunity, one you shouldn’t let pass.
To witness horses that appear totally free is unexpectedly moving. With no saddles, no bridles, no reigns or fences to limit or restrain these creatures, the invisible bond that these horses have with man are revealed and simultaneously revered by all that watch. Initially, there are no people on stage. For a time, there are just horses, doing what they like. They pay no mind to a tent full of spectators and I get the impression, for all these equines care, we might as well be blades of grass as we stare motionless in awe of how something so simple is so very profound. 2,000 people sit gasping and tearing up as if they’ve never seen a horse beforein their lives. And, many, myself included, never really have. Not like this. Being able to witness this exceptional freedom is the experience that is vividly branded in my memory.
I’ll be blunt; the acrobats are talented, flexible and fearless. They are engaged in really DANGEROUS acts. There are no nets and there are no wires to catch them when they fall (and they do.) In these moments of extreme danger, it’s not particularly “enjoyable” to watch. Or it wasn’t for me at least. I worried a lot during some of those displays. About the humans and about the horses. Once I was able to manually over ride the oddly maternal freak out, I still found the horses to be the showstoppers. These humans could turn off gravity and throw themselves into harm’s way over and over to the end of eternity, and somehow they could hardly compete with a horse doing the most natural of things, like walk. Upstaged by a mane toss I wager isn’t something you desire to put on your resume, but how awesome is it that that’s your “job.” There was an air of magical envy in the hearts of the audience, talk about running away to pursue a dream.
And, while I very much acknowledged the skill and rapport required to guide the horses so precisely in some of the dressage acts, after enjoying the sight of horses getting to stroll leisurely at their own pace, or clearly relish the opportunity to run full speed, there was a sense of “why is any of the gear necessary.” A liberty act as they call it, seemed proof enough that a horse will respond to a rider or handler without traditional riding equipment and with only visual or vocal cues. After seeing that communication so flawlessly demonstrated, it was almost an evolutionary step backwards for me to see the horse in a more restricted and controlled manner.
A lover of animals, I’m not particularly partial to horses, though you’d never have known that from the wicked case of sore cheek syndrome I ‘suffered” as a result of a beaming overdose. In the end, beautiful live music accompanies, stunning visual projections enhance, and a myriad of acrobatics wow, but the moments accentuating the horses liberty and mutual respect/understanding between human and horse, are what made this event the most powerful for me.
Not unlike man’s history with the horse, I’m torn on Cavalia. While there are exquisite afore-mentioned sections of this show that deserve 5 out of 5 jewels and then some, it is tempered by more painful and difficult parts to watch befitting a 3. Reaching a compromise, I’ll partner with a 4 though really, the recommendation is the same regardless of the numerical assignment. Go. Find a part of you you’ve lost or perhaps a part you never knew you had. Cavalia has been extended through August, 19th and you’ll not be sorry you went.