If you’ve driven anywhere in the Silicon Valley recently, you can’t miss the massive signs touting Jay Leno’s affinity for the show “Cavalia.” A gorgeous white horse with a majestic mane has been overlooking many parts of Silicon Valley, imploring the public to venture to the gargantuan white tents anchored near the 101 and 87 Freeways.
After finishing its most recent run in Mexico City, “Cavalia” is now in San Jose for a run that has already been extended twice, and the show will be celebrating its 2,000th show while in town. The show, which visited San Francisco in 2010, was founded by Normand Latourelle, an originator of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil enterprise.
Which makes perfect sense. The production features many signatures of the Cirque shows – a gorgeous score performed by a powerful singer and five-piece band, remarkable aerial acts, and stunning visual sets that include a massive 210-foot wide screen that enables for projections and special effects. But there is one other element – horses.
And loads of them. “Cavalia” has 49 horses representing 11 different breeds. While some horses may perform tricks that showcase the powerful and regal nature of the animal, others are marvels at things like dancing and taking bows.
The show is a tribute to the relationship that humans have with horses, an equine fantasy world where irreplaceable bonds push the bounds of freedom. The show reaches highs and lows with stunning acrobatics, surreal trick-riding that features performers on both saddle and bareback, and in some cases, standing on the horses as they fly around the stage. There are also plenty of majestic tricks by the horses themselves, a showcase of the power and grace of these beautiful equine creatures.
Aerialist Jennifer Lecuyer has been with the show for two years. Prior to her run, she had no experience nor did she grow up with horses. But as she journeyed through the show, she found that each horse had a special personality that makes every performance unique.
“The horse’s energy is different every day,” said Lecuyer, a Canada native who grew up near Montreal, where the show was founded. “Whether it’s the speed of the horses or the way they are galloping, we have to stay very, very focused. It keeps us fresh.”
Few know more about a horse’s speed than rider Laura Baubry, a native of France. She has been with the show for the past two-and-a-half years and rides a quarter horse stallion named Ole. Baubry has ridden horses her entire life and grew up mainly doing jumping, sidewalking and dressage. But trick-riding in the show is an entirely different chore, mostly because of the speed of the horses and the necessary acrobatic requirements of the rider.
When Baubry first started training for the show, she described the experience as being “scared to death.” After all, the riding includes acrobatics, standing, and even some total submissions such as hooking a leg and riding upside down on one side of the horse. Throw in the fact that these animals reach speeds of 30 miles per hour, and it is a daunting task.
“The show is very intense physically, but it’s amazing,” said Baubry. “Anybody who rides horses knows it’s a dream to do this job. And all of my feelings come out for a trick ride.”
And for an audience who comes out to see these performers and creatures do extraordinary things on any given night, Lecuyer said that for her and her fellow castmates, the horses never stop fascinating them.
“Working with horses is phenomenal because of how curious they are,” said Lecuyer. “They are really the stars of the show, and we try to always keep the stage as their playground.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GO
“Cavalia – A Magical Encounter between Human and Horse”
Founded by Normand Latourelle
Through August 26th
Prices range from $44.50 – $239.50
Special pricing for children (2 – 12), juniors (13 – 17), seniors (65+) and groups
All performances at the White Big Top
301 Atmel Way (at the intersection of Highway 101 and 87 East)
San Jose, CA 95131
For tickets, call (866) 999-8111 or visit www.cavalia.net