Equestrian Extravaganza

The horse show Cavalia (cavalia.net) premiers in Denver
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The horse show Cavalia (cavalia.net) premiers in Denver
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Autumnal Equinox and Harvest moon align for the ethereal and primal Cavalia premier in Denver. The brainchild of Cirque du Soleil co-founder Normand Latourelle, this unique horse show opens at the Big Top at the Pepsi Center tonight at 7 p.m. The show runs from September 22– October 17 before moving on to San Francisco. ($55–190, cavalia.net)

The performance is a celebration of the horse and highlights their mysterious allure and grace, power, and speed. A total of 52 highly trained horses and eleven different breeds (from Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.) cavort with each other and a swarm of acrobats, dancers, and aerialists. The 160-foot wide arena allows for unbridled galloping and horseplay, and the intricate maneuvers are often breathtaking. Think: cutting and reigning horses performing at full speed amidst troupes of ballet dancers and cavorting cheerleaders. The whimsical, athletic spirit of Cirque du Soleil is clearly on display.

Cavalia is a sensory experiencing calling forth the archetypal relationship between humans and horses. It’s a dreamlike show, choreographed with precision and taste—an impressive demonstration of trick riding, dressage, roman riding, bareback riding, “haute ecole,” and liberty trainers. The arena seems to float in its own orbit thanks to constantly changing, digitally projected images on a 200-foot-wide screen, with veiled, live musicians adding to the effect.

A crowd favorite is Sylvia Zerbini’s “Grande Liberte,” a segment with nine, mostly white, Arabians. The lead horse is an Andalusian-Arabian mix, and Zerbini maintains the complete attention of her herd (and the audience) as they freely gallop about.

It may not be cowboy, but the horsemanship on display at Cavalia will impress anyone who���s ever swung a leg over a horse.