Where the minds of the horses
blend with the human minds to create a great show!
By Iride Aparicio

Cavalia 1
Fairland Ferguson in “ROMAN RIDING”                     Photo Credit:  Lynne Glazer

SAN FRANCISCO, California – CAVALIA  is a combination of  music and sights. CAVALIA is motion.  CAVALIA is horses.  For those who like horses, CAVALIA  the spectacle that is being presented in the WHITE BIG TOP, in San Francisco between 4th and China Basin Streets (adjacent to AT& T Park) is the show to see.  Twenty-seven artists, among them acrobats, dancers, and riders keep the show moving in constant motion.  Dazzling changes of  light and colorful costumes keep it visual, and  the modal  music sung  by Anne Sophie Hoffman accompanied by guitar, percussions, keyboard, bass, drums, recorder andCavalia2 cello, manages to transport the audience, mentally, to a new dimension.

But the stars in CAVALIA  are 50 horses of  10  different breeds: Arabian, Spanish, Lusitanos and Mustangs, to name a few, who walk, trot, gallop alone or in synchronization with each other, allowing their riders to ride them,  to stand on their backs  and even jump over their ample haunches at high speed. It is exhilarating to see the horses crossing the 160 feet wide stage  galloping  in front of  a 210-feet  wide screen displaying the  projections of   prairies, woods, oceans and  even an old stone building,  resembling the Roman Coliseum, which  through his many arches let us glance  at the blue sky.

Seasons change rapidly, inside the ll0 feet high  white canvas tent of  CAVALIA;  The equivalent of a ten-story building. We go from Spring to Autumn in a few minutes  and  just as the leaves start falling gently, it is Winter already.  All the  redish/golden trees had turned white and now we are looking a post-card beautiful Winter scenery.  We don’t feel cold, but over our heads  the snow is falling.

Bungee Cavaliers  Photo by: Lynn Glazer

Appropriately, the show begins with the birth of a colt. In a projection of  a green forest  a white mare is  pasturing.  She lies on the grass. A close up shot give us a glance of  her colt being born.  Now he is out. He tries to stand in his unsteady legs but falls several times before he succeds. As his mother licks him, he starts feeding.  A couple of live horses cross the stage  People running and dancing  follow them.

The acts in CAVALIA  are varied. In “Cheval Dance” Marianella Michaud wearing informal attire, begins dancing to music  barefooted  in a puddle of water. A  horse starts trotting around her in what resembles a well orchestrated slow dance of a human and  an animal.  The horse begins running in circles around her as she continues dancing. The horse is now walking very slowly.  She stops and he approaches her.  It all look so natural.  The number may be described as poetry in motion.  Something out of this world.

Other acts are daring.  Acrobats spinning around ropes hanging from the ceiling.  Acrobats tumbling as they cross the stage from one end to the other.

Cavalia 3

Enrique Suarez riding Choice and Zorro                        Photo courtesy of Cavalia Inc.

Acrobats performing all types of dangerous acts.  There is also a  Lasso number in which a woman spins a lasso, and then two lassos, as she jumps in and out.

And there are plenty of  horses and riders. All kinds of  riders. Elegant riders dressed in medieval long gowns in two white horses which in a mirror-like image synchronize all their different movements exactly.  A carrousel of white horses and riders moving in different positions  perfectly   sincronized..  There is also the “amble” or  “ambling” of the gaits, (a collection of several smooth foot  patterns which require  training of the horse before the rider can request them on command) And there are  plenty of running horses: men and women chasing horses, jumping on horses as they run, Standing on two running horses with the right leg in one and the left on the other. Action, Action.

Yet the most beautiful act that night, the most poetic was the combination of male  riders, horses and women  acrobats, with the riders and horses going around a ring slowly and the woman acrobats, suspended from the ceiling on bungees,  standing on their shoulders,  or like ballerinas standing on one foot on their heads or simply  floating on the air. It was wonderful.

For information about tickets to CAVALIA go to

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

B-Roll courtesy of Cavalia Inc. Produced by Le Studio Harmonie