Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Admiring the Horses in Cavalia

Cavalia showcases a combination of horses, acrobatics and aerialists
Last night I had the chance to watch the opening show of Cavalia in Hong Kong. It's created by Normand Latourelle, who was one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil. And while the acrobatic and dance elements are there, the addition of horses makes things more interesting and dramatic.

The show is located by Pier 10 in Central, where there are several white tents put up there, and that's where the entrance is, not across from City Hall, where we thought there was a short cut, but we were wrong.

Nevertheless, once we made our way inside, we realized we snagged excellent seats and on top of that sat next to the Canadian delegation that included the former Premier of Quebec Jean Charest and the Canadian Consul General to Hong Kong! Charest played a big role in bringing Cavalia to Hong Kong, and also helped bring it to Singapore last year.

Beautiful choreography with aerialists and horses
He explained that even though he has seen the show over 10 times, each time it's different, with slight variations with the acts. But also with horses, it's hard to know how they will perform that evening, with some equines choosing not to cooperate.

While the show is based around the male horses -- 40 of them in total -- there are acrobats from Morocco and Ghana, as well as aerialists, a lasso artist and a singer to keep the audience entertained.

Everyone was thrilled to see the horses running bareback around the "stage" -- they looked wild, but were tame, for the most part following the trainer's orders. We were later told that they would only listen to their trainer who may have taught them in either French or English.

Parts of the show involved only humans and some incorporated both. We loved the two aerialists who danced in the air while below two men rode bareback on two white horses in a circle going around and around. The moves were not intricate, but were beautifully presented.

Then there was lots of energy from the acrobats, who used a lot of speed, strength and agility to do numerous backflips and balances with several people together. They also had no problems warming up the crowd, getting people to clap in time with the music and encourage them as they did their stunts.

There was a poignant scene of a guy walking on a large ball, and then a black horse with a very long mane meets him. The horse sees he's eating an apple and wants some too. The interaction between them was very cute and emphasized the loving relationship between horse and man, a theme echoed through the show.

Horses spring straight ahead with rider in various poses
One daring stunt were two men and a woman, each having one foot on one horse -- in effect riding on two horses standing up at a relatively fast clip. Towards the end, the woman tried to handle two more horses running in front and jump over a bar, but twice the horses refused to keep going and she wasn't able to finish it.

Later on, some horses ran around according to their trainer's instructions, but a dappled gray one seemed to want to bully another horse, trying to bite the other's bottom. It was amusing for us, and the trainer took it in stride -- which they have to.

It also explains why there is a group of musicians above playing music, so that it can easily be adjusted in case an act finishes prematurely, or they need extra time to set the stunt up again.

This was the case when a man was standing on a horse as it ran around the ring and he attempted to do a flip, but both times he didn't land properly and fell off. As a result, there's a lot of tension for the audience, but that's what make Cavalia exciting too.

After the show some of us waited behind so that the horses could be showered and we could visit them in the stables. We were given antibacterial solution to clean our hands before entering. Many of the horses were busy eating hay and had their backsides to us! But a few were willing to poke their heads up to see who was around.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to pet them on the nose, and their stalls were designed so that they couldn't even poke their heads out, probably for safety reasons. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be able to see these magnificent creatures up close.

Now until May 10, 2015
Tickets HK$395-HK$1,995

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