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Cavalia rides into Adelaide

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Onto the sand and water come the horses. Then the humans arrive, aloft or on foot, bearing the torch of fire. So the elements are set for a whirlwind world history tour of horses, humans, and horses and humans interacting.

Cavalia is imaginative, exhilarating, athletic. Woah!

The performance is projected against 60-metre backdrop curtain artworks and sylvan images suggesting pre-history (Lascaux Caves) and ancient cultures that meet a fairytale realm, then travel across foreign cultures into modernity. Don’t expect a coherent narrative, nor are the tableaux especially culture-specific, but the flavours are fun.

Under the White Big Top, the atmosphere is astounding. Fine specimens of men and women wrangle exquisite beasts, whether glossy chestnuts or shimmering whites (special purple shampoo brightens their coats, we learn in a Q&A following the opening night performance). Acrobats intermingle. All is spectacle and diversion, and the pacing is good.

Standouts in the sequence include: Fairland Ferguson’s Roman riding, where she lead a team of horses while standing astride two, like a wild Boudicca; Keith Dupont’s Grande Liberté, which provides a gentle reflection on the nature of freedom; and, for fantasy freaks, the medieval elvish flavour of Le Miroir. Any item with Grégory Molina, the head trainer, is magnificent.

The music is live and vibrant. Celtic-inspired French chanson and Spanish guitar provide a world music vibe, with musicians visible either lit through the curtain or up front (the cellist has two cellos, one for on stage, the other kept in the Gods). Costumes are magical – all that silk! The slashed russet tops of the acrobats tantalisingly reveal a taste of firm musculature.

Seating in the big top is raked and visibility good. Bear in mind that if you take young children to a VIP evening performance, you might not leave the stables till very late, but there are matinee performances.

If you know about horses, you’ll want to go. If you don’t know about horses, you should go. Go prepared to applaud.

Cavalia is showing in a six-week season under the White Big Top, West Beach Road, West Beach.

 

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