The performing horse show Cavalia, a pumped-up cross between Cirque du Soleil and El Caballo Blanco, opens tonight six weeks after pitching its giant White Top at Belmont racecourse.
Its 45 equine stars were put through their paces with riders, acrobats, dancers and aerial performers yesterday in a preview for local charity and equestrian groups.
“We make sure the horses get the best care and its shows when you see the show,” touring director Alain Gauthier said.
“The horses enjoy it, they love performing for the audience,” touring director Alain Gauthier said. “They are kept very healthy and we make a huge effort to ensure the horses have a really good mindset.”
When the show was developed 10 years ago, it had been crucial to win the horses’ trust to integrate circus acts with the equestrian world, he said.
“We had to suspend ourselves on cables and bungees and bring the horses slowly in at first because they had never experienced this before,” he said.
“It was a beautiful process because every time the horses allowed a little more, we could create a little more around the horse and eventually after three months of very intense training we were able to come up with some of the fabulous routines.”
Gauthier said the show evolved as it toured the world in tempo with the different personalities of the changing line-up of horses.
They were raring to go for the Perth season after a two-week holiday at a farm in the Adelaide Hills, he said.
The choreography and lighting highlighted the musculature of the horses as biomechanical marvels to be admired.
The routines were elaborate but the costuming was kept relatively simple and natural, Gauthier said.
“We kept experimenting with different characters and costumes but everything next to a horse would end up looking like a clown.
“The horses are so beautiful so we are imposed and restrained to be very natural and authentic in order not to clash with them.”
Perth A-listers were said to be champing at the bit to be part of tonight’s red-carpet premiere.
Publicist Rosita Stangl said anticipation was higher than for any show since Cirque du Soleil first came to Perth 12 years ago.
Cavalia was bred from the same stable as Cirque. Its creator is created by Normand Latourelle, who co-founded the Montreal-based Cirque in the early 1980s. Cavalia runs until December 29.
Cavalia is loosely based on the history of the interaction between humans and horses down the centuries.
Tickets are available for performances until December 29.