Horsing AroundJuly 2, 2010 - 1:27 PM | by: Laura Ingle
What do you get when you combine acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts, and a lot of horses all under one tent? A show called Cavalia (pronounced Cah-VAH-lee-ah), which was created by one of the founders of the Canadian performance group Cirque du Soleil. If you’ve ever seen Cirque, then you get an idea of what’s involved here. Daredevil performers wear brightly colored and flowing costumes, the live music is heart pounding and more than 60 horses appear free to roam, gallop, prance, and play on an open stage but do so in practiced routines with their human counterparts.
In one number, Sylvia Zerbini a “horse listener” uses what she describes as “her gift to communicate with animals” to guide 8 bareback horses around the stage with no bits or bridles in a performance called “Liberty.”
Another performer, Majolie Nadeau pulls off acrobatic stunts while riding a 2-thousand pound horse named Miracle. She also flies high above the crowd strapped into bungees that allow her to flip, float and dive above cheering audience members. It is not the easiest thing to do, as I found out when Nadeau gave me a lesson inside the big top this week.
Nadeau first strapped me into a very thick and stiff harness around my legs and hips, then attached the bungees to metal hoops that were at the top of the harness. Show producers then gave me some “bungee pants” which are like flowing thin sheets that hide the harness before I was hoisted into the air to try out Nadeau’s contraption.
Once they started pulling me into the air and I tried to jump and flip around, I quickly found a new appreciation for what these aerialists do! Nadeau talked me through learning how to swing my body back and forth so that I could get enough motion going to get my legs over my head which was no easy feat. The hardest part was remembering to let go of the bungees while I went end over end — holding on can make it feel like your arms might tear out of your sockets. But once she hollered up at me as I hung down from the big top bungees “let go!” I was able to complete a flip without looking like I was in need of medical attention, and started to get the hang of it, though not looking nearly as graceful as my new friend.
Cavalia is designed to highlight the connection between man and horse. If you are an animal lover, you are bound to enjoy this dramatic and colorful show which runs through July 5th at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford New Jersey and then heads back to its home base in Montreal this summer. The show’s producers say they plan to bring Cavalia back to the U.S. sometime this fall.