The “lavish, grand scale” equestrian and acrobatics show Cavalia is scheduled to open under its 100-foot high big top tent next to the Santa Monica Pier Wednesday, November 10th.
Directed by Šrick Villeneuve, Cavalia explores the magical relationship between horse and man and the spectacle involves more than 69 performers, including a troupe of 37 “magnificent, uniquely trained horses from all over the world,” according to event organizers. Live music and vocals will set the mood as horses share the stage with acrobats, aerialists and riders, in front of a constantly changing background projected on a 200-foot wide screen.
Ticket prices vary by section and day, ranging from $54 to $84 for adults, and $39 to $74 for seniors, students and children 12 and under, plus service charges. The show continues its Santa Monica run through Friday, November 26th, and will offer a free parking pass for every purchase of two or more tickets.
“I like to do things no one has seen before, says Normand Latourelle, creator of Cavalia and one of the founders of Quebec’s famed Cirque du Soleil. “I fell in love with horses about six years ago.
“Horses have given so much to humans, and we have to thank them. This show is a dream for freedom.”
Latourelle says humans have taken freedom from horses to acquire their own freedom — to travel distances, to work, and for war — and he adds that, “It’s time to give back to the horses.”
Latourelle first saw the Santa Monica pier when Cirque du Soleil came to Los Angeles in 1987 and says, “I thought it was the most beautiful place in the world.”
He worked hard to convince the city to let Cirque du Soleil set up on the pier and he got approval for the following year, where it was held until 1999.
Cavalia debuted over a year ago in Quebec and after successful shows in Canada, Latourelle says the first place he wanted to bring Cavalia in the States was the Santa Monica Pier.
He says it took a long time to convince the city to have the show but he’s happy it will finally open on the pier.
“The timing of the show is great,” says Misti Kerns, Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) president and chief executive officer. “It will be a great cultural experience for individuals, groups and families.
“It is the perfect opportunity for our local hotels and restaurants to create Cavalia-themed promotions for both residents and visitors.”
“We’re continually working with the city and the CVB to keep cultural events flowing into Santa Monica and this is a perfect example — it’s fantastic,” says Ben Franz-Knight, Pier Restoration Corporation executive director.
Cavalia has already enjoyed a sold-out extended run in Glendale.
“Our previous stay in Los Angeles was one of the most memorable stops on this journey,” Latourelle says. “We were determined to come back as soon as possible.”
Latourelle adds that it’s difficult to do something new and so different, but the show has been very successful for a beginning show and he’s happy with the response.
He says it takes approximately 50 trailers to transport the show to each location, where a 26,264-square-foot big top is set up. The audience faces a single 160-foot wide stage, which allows the horses the freedom and space to gallop at full speed, sometimes completely unfettered by bridles or halters.
European “horse-whisperer” FrÈdÈric Pignon and his wife, trainer and rider Magali Delgado, also bring their talents to the show using an approach of kindness and complicity to their equine stars.
“Horse Whisperers” are said to have used the practice of observation to learn a horse’s natural language. Through understanding and respect of the innate nature of the horse, the whisperer could work in communion with the animal rather than against it.
Cavalia explores humankind’s long relationship with the horse taking audiences from unbridled life in the wilderness, to early domestication and ultimately to a relationship with human beings based on freedom and mutual respect.
Latourelle says he is producing the show, since no one else wanted to take it on. He says this has given him the freedom to always make decisions that are in the best interest of the horses. “Repetition is tiring for all, humans and animals,” he says. “We bring the horses on the stage to have fun and all the horses have backups so it’s not too difficult for them.”
Latourelle hopes that from the show audiences will “listen more to nature, be aware of what horses have given us and learn to be more gentle.”
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