Unique production combines theatre, dance, music and horses
IT'S a bigger touring production than U2 or Madonna, but it's not a concert.
The internationally acclaimed theatrical production Cavalia is heading Down Under for the first time, and requires an entire Boeing 747 to transport its talented equestrian cast.
Described as equestrian ballet, Cavalia is a mix of performing arts, multimedia projections and live music created by one of the founding members of Cirque Du Soleil.
"Cavalia is the biggest touring show in the world," said creator and artistic director Normand Latourelle.
"The most important thing for me is that I didn't want to bring a reduced size show (to Australia).
"We're bringing not only the full show but everything going with it."
That means 50 specially trained horses, 42 performing artists and the show's signature White Big Top tent.
The flight from Los Angeles to Sydney will be the longest the horses have ever experienced.
"The longest ride we did by plane in the past was four or five years ago when we travelled from LA to Amsterdam, which took 11 hours of flying," Latourelle said.
"They travel with trainers, grooms and vets in case something happens, but we don't give them sedation unless it's very required.
"They get nervous when they take off and when they land, we know that because we've been through many flights, but other than that they don't really know where they are."
Cavalia has been touring the US, Canada and Europe for a decade but this will be the show's debut in Australia.
The tour starts in Brisbane on March 6 before continuing to Sydney in May and finishing in Melbourne in August.
"For a long time I've wanted to bring the show to Australia," he said.
"It's very expensive and complicated and the quarantine is very long. Nothing is easy because it's on the other side of the world."
After his original idea, Latourelle spent 10 years developing the show because he, admittedly, "wasn't a horse person".
"I could barely see the difference between a cow and a horse," he laughed.
"I'm a guy from the city. I've been working in performing arts all my life.
"When I was part of Cirque Du Soleil we were very proud to say it was a circus without animals, so moving into the animal world I was sceptical."
Cavalia differs from more traditional horse shows like Outback Spectacular because half of the show features horses performing freely on stage.
This unique format requires years of training and a close bond between horse and trainer.
"We try to make them feel it's their playground," Latourelle said of the 60-metre wide stage.
"If you put one horse at one side of the stage and one artist on the other side and what you wish is that the horse comes to the artist, then that's the accomplishment when you make the horse so confident with man to make him come to the artist. That's what makes this show so moving and so touching."
Latourelle uses large-scale, state-of-the-art projections to tell the narrative of the show, which traces the historical relationship between man and horse.
"I like to say we have the oldest human technology, the horse, and the most modern technology in projection, images and special effects," he said.
Cavalia opens in Brisbane on March 6 and runs through March 24 in the parking lot adjacent to the Brisbane Airport DFO.
Tickets start from $39 plus booking fees and special pricing is available for groups, children and seniors.
To book phone 1800 765 955 or go to www.cavalia.com.au.
- Brisbane's Emporium hotel is offering a special Cavalia & Cocktails package for those travelling to Brisbane for the show.
- It includes one night in a king suite, valet parking and two pre-event Cavalia-inspired cocktails priced from $299 (does not include Cavalia tickets).
- To book phone 07 3253 6999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.