Last night, Laurel and I saw the newest version of Cavalia's marvelous "horse show." (I put that in quotes to indicate that it is like no horse show you've ever seen before.)
Which, like the show we saw five years ago, also in Portland, basically is an equine Cirque du Soleil. In 2011, I blogged, Cavalia is a magical horse show -- Portlanders, go see it!
I don't know why I omitted my fellow residents of Salem in the title, so now I'll add -- Salemians, go see it!
As noted in my first post about Cavalia, my wife and I have both ridden quite a bit, and taken lots of riding lessons, Laurel more than me. Judging from the many people in cowboy boots at the Odysseo show, I'm sure a good number of the people in the audience were way more horse-savvy than I am.
Yet we all were gasping and clapping at the amazing displays of horsemanship, both from the human and equine performers. Like I said back in 2011:
The intimate communication between horse and rider/trainer was obvious, yet often difficult to discern explicitly, it seemed so natural.
Case in point: the woman in the second act who engages in a spectacular display of equine choreography with six horses, standing on the sandstrewn Cavalia stage with just her soft voice and a flexible "stick" to control the horses.
A dog trainer would be hard pressed to get six border collies to do what the stallions (or geldings) were accomplishing with seeming ease. Three would circle in one direction, while the other three would circle the other way. Then one horse would break out of the pattern and do something different.
ln the new show, I was blown away by how groups of four horses led by a trainer on foot would follow the person through intricate maneuvers involving quite a few other horse/human groups.
Being someone who feels fortunate if I can get a horse to do the basics -- go, stop, turn, back up, refrain from eating grass on a trail ride -- the obvious intimate connection between the riders/trainers and the beautiful horses (18 stallions, 47 geldings) amazed me.
Some of the moments were breathtakingly powerful. I loved the riders galloping on white horses who carried long red banners around the Odysseo stage.
We splurged on second row seats, so had a great view of the action. After intermission, somehow the flat part of the riding area was filled with several inches of water in under a minute, while the curtain was closed briefly. (Towels had been handed out to first row people, for reasons that soon became obvious.)
The video below shows a beautiful display of dressage during the water portion of the show. The set design is breathtaking -- a mixture of high-tech video and special effects, with old-fashioned sand/dirt. I believe this woman is the same rider who performed in Portland last night.
A Cavalia trailer offers an overview of the entire show. Naturally being there in person is way different than seeing it on a small screen.
I've seen several Cirque du Soleil shows, in addition to the two Cavalia productions. All were memorable, but I think this Odysseo show will stick with me the most strongly.
There's just something about the combination of horses and humans that's powerful, gripping, and elemental in an emotionally hard-to-describe way.
We Homo sapiens are animals, just as horses are. We're just animals with different qualities, different capabilities. To see people and horses performing together so harmoniously made me think, "Hey, wouldn't it be nice if people and people always could cooperate in the same fashion?"
Yes, I realize that the horses in the show go through years of training -- two to six, according to a pre-show Q &A projected on the stage screen.
But the bonds between the human performers and their horses were obvious. It might be too much to call this "love," yet it often looked like that word fit -- given the non-verbal messages that passed continuously between the two-and four-legged animals in the show.