October 26, 2009
Atlantic Station
Atlanta, GA

Review by Amanda McKay

I was lucky enough to see a 45-minute sneak preview of Cavalia last week in Atlanta. This condensed version of the show was spectacular and gorgeous. Founded by Cirque de Soliel co-founder Normand Latourelle, Cavalia proudly celebrates the beauty of the horse and its relationship with people.

Cavalia showcased many fabulous "four legged artists," including some rare breeds, like the Canadian Horse and Pure Spanish-Breed. Some of these horses appeared to be equestrian fantasies brought to life, with perfectly arched necks and manes long enough to cloak Lady Godiva.

The show took place in an enormous, custom built tent with a stage large enough for multiple horses to gallop.

There truly were no bad seats. Live music and vocals enriched the performance,lending romance or excitement to the action. Special effects such as falling "leaves" and a storm of snowflakes that dissolved into the audience added to the atmosphere of fantasy.




Perhaps the most unbelievable special effect was the indoor rain shower with ghostly images of a rearing horse projected onto the sheet of rain. Added to this were the real horses piroutting and weaving around the screen of water. It was a dream brought to life.

Another romantic scene featured aerialists as well as riders. As the horses gracefully circled the ring, the two women floated along in impossible positions. They grasped the riders'hands to swing along horizontally in the air and then flew up to perch on the riders' heads.

The gorgeous "Grand Liberte" was far more dangerous than it probably looked. Eight gray stallions cantered around the ring, completely free of bridles or halters. Unscripted biting and kicking among the horses hinted at the potential difficulty in controlling them. Once they were joined by trainer Sylvia Zerbini, they behavedthemselves perfectly, responding to her nearly invisible cues and twirling in unison.

Of course there was the daredevil portion of the show, with both Roman riding and trick riding. Both were full of humor, thanks to the personality of acrobats and riders, who tried to one-up each other. They got the audience involved in cheering as expertly as a rock star. For their amazing stunts, the horses were actually in a full gallop across the stage.


Riders draped themselves over the horses' tails and jumped over a pole while standing on a pair of charging horses as if waterskiing.

The overwhelming finale had so much action that it was nearly impossible to take it all in from the front row. A more distant seat would have allowed a better vantage point. Then again, I would not have had what seemed practically a near miss with a trapeze artist as she bungeed out over the audience! Acrobats and aerialists and galloping horses and jumping horses recalled the lovely imagery of earlier scenes as well as the excitement of the stunts.

See Cavalia if you possibly can, even if you don't think you love horses. You just might change your mind!



Review by Amanda McKay /
Photos by Chris McKay /