By Brandon HENSLEY
In 2003, Normand Latourelle and his show “Cavalia” set out to give audiences a dream-like experience – a spectacle where horses and humans unite.
Latourelle hoped it would last two or three years. As it turns out, the show is still going strong, and since its original production in Quebec, Canada, more than 2.5 million people in North America and Europe have enjoyed “Cavalia.”
“Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Horse and Human,” is a show combining equestrian arts, visual effects, and dance and acrobatics. It is held under a transportable tent called the White Big Top. On Jan. 19, “Cavalia” is coming to Southern California. It will be held in downtown Burbank at 777 N. Front St.
“I’m very excited to bring the show back to California,” said Latourelle last week. The show was in Los Angeles in 2004.
“People here in California are open-minded,” he said. “They look for great entertainment and every time we came to California we had great success.”
Latourelle is a co-founder of Canada’s famed Cirque Du Soleil. After five years with the show, he broke away. He said
he wanted to try something new and was inspired by a past Cirque Du Soleil performance involving a horse.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a beautiful animal,’” Latourelle recalled. “They’re very proud, very noble. They’re very powerful at the same time.”
He was surprised to see more people being entertained by the horse than the performers. So he read up on everything involving horses, including their history and their nature. What he learned was that horses have a two-track mind: they want to eat and drink, and they also want to play.
“They are the most playful animal that exists on earth,” Latourelle said.
Because of that, “This is where I’ve decided to push the limits of performing arts, bringing horses to the stage.”
And what a big stage it is. The White Big Top is 110 feet tall. It has a stage that is 160 feet wide, and a 210-foot wide screen that is a backdrop for the projections and special effects. It took seven trucks to move the White Big Top from Denver to Burbank.
Latourelle said he didn’t want a circus-like space for the horses. He wanted space so they could roam. Having a tent that big isn’t always the best thing because of how much work it takes to get it ready. “At the same time, it’s something just to witness as a spectator,” Latourelle said.
Latourelle set up his vision for what he wants people to experience during the show: “A moment where at the same time you are going to laugh, you are going to cry, and be touched.
“You don’t need to be a horse person to like the show, you just need to let yourself go into a dream for two hours, and after you leave you feel the dream end.”
On Jan. 20, there will be a fundraiser for the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to pair with the opening of the Burbank show. King attended “Cavalia” previously and became a huge fan.
“We always try to associate our show with a cause,” Latourelle said. “For me it’s just a treat to be a link with him and to try to give something with the cause.”
Tickets for “Cavalia” generally range from $69 to $139.
For more information on the show and the Larry King fundraiser, call (866) 999-8111 or go to www.cavalia.net.