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Horses and Humans

San Diego has not one, but two Cirque-esque equine-centric shows in town (right on the heels of Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion). This town has never seen so many aerialists and acrobats and big-tops all at once. But about the horses… I’d never heard of either Cavalia or Valitar before, at least not until horses and humans began appearing on billboards throughout the county.

As with most Cirque shows (note: Cavalia is not a Cirque show, but the “equestrian ballet” is the creation of Normand Latourelle, one of Cirque’s founders, hence the similarities in style) the title itself is a made-up word — this one is based on the French word for horse, cheval.


Shot of Cavalia’s tents and the new library dome

Similarly, Valitar (which is produced locally by Mark and Tatyana Remley who, to my knowledge, have no connection to Cirque) is an invented word based on the Latin word validus, which means “strong, mighty, and powerful.”

I went to see Cavalia on opening night. The horses were indeed “magical,” or as I kept whispering to David, who is perpetually at my side, “majestic.” The first 40 minutes dragged as acrobats balanced on balls, bounced on trampolines, and gestured reverently at horses that trotted onto and off stage. But once the real choreography and better-rehearsed acts with horses and aerialists began, the show was riveting for the remaining hour and a half. The whole thing had a Ren Faire meets Western quality, and for the most part, it was delightful.

Image David, standing outside the tent on opening night

Image After party reception with champagne and chandeliers at Cavalia

I’m bummed I won’t get a chance to see Valitar (I’m a bit busy with the Thanksgiving holiday this week). I’m curious to see how the two shows differentiate, and what the local producers mean when they say they’ve incorporated “state-of-the-art technology” into their own “mythical” take on the interaction between horses and humans. I hope this show comes back soon so I can make my comparison.

But you still have a chance to catch one or both of these shows through this Sunday (November 25), and see for yourself what kind of wonderment comes from mixing humans with horses on the big stage.

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