Cavalia Opens in San Diego

By November 4, 2012
Cavalia features digital backdrops.

Cavalia's troupe of 50 horses performing on a 160-foot-wide stage transformed into a dreamscape by digital backdrops.

As the gleaming white, fairy-tale spires rose like giant popsicle sticks in the sky, traffic slowed to a crawl and downtown office workers pressed nose-to-glass, catching an eyeful as the Cavalia’s 10-story big-top floated heavenward in San Diego.

Taking up residence in the lot adjacent to Petco Park, Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse begins its run Nov. 13. Exquisite equines combine with elaborate choreography, breathtaking stage design and lush music, Cavalia pulls back the curtain on a world of enchantment, one whose magic is accessible to equestrians and non-riders alike.

The show is created by Quebec’s Normand Latourelle, one of the founding members of Cirque du Soliel, who in 1985 went his own way to create a show around “cavallo” ― Italian for horses; the name “Cavalia,” is yet another whisp of  artistic director Latourelle’s imagination. The attention to detail is evident in everything from the costuming to the beauty and joy of the act’s 50 touring horses ― 14 breeds in all, ranging from Lusitanos to Warmbloods to Quarterhorses, Paints and Appaloosas. The animals largely perform unbridled and unsaddled, sometimes with riders, sometimes with acrobats.

In all, Cavalia’s iconic “White Big Top” spans 26,000-square-feet and stands 110-feet tall. Seated in bleachers that face a 160-foot-wide stage, spectators are drawn into dream-like virtual worlds through a series of digital paintings projected onto a 200-foot wide screen.

Cavalia's "tent city," as seen against the backdrop of St. Louis.

Cavalia's "tent city," as arranged in St. Louis.

Composer Michel Cusson has created an original score that respects the natural rhythm of the horses. Performed live, the music adapts in real-time to the unpredictable variations in the show that are bound to happen when working with at-liberty horses.

“Since beginning to tour almost a decade ago, and certainly since our first very successful visit to San Diego back in 2004, Cavalia has constantly evolved and renewed itself, incorporating new artists, new horses, and new stagings for most of the breathtaking scenes in the show,” Latourelle said.

Latourelle said he was honored that San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders was on hand Oct. 24 when the tent went up to welcome the troupe to town. “The presence of Mayor Sanders meant a great deal for all the Cavalia Family,” said Latourelle, who revels in every stop as he tours his show around the world each year. “All the cast and crew have been eager to return to this picturesque city.”

Cavalia’s most recent California visit was in San Jose July 18-Aug. 12, after which the horses were able to enjoy a layup. They arrive in San Diego on Nov. 8. Prior to that, the show touched down in Los Angeles Jan. 19, 2011. Due to the continually rotating set-pieces, anyone who saw it then will experience a re-imagined show in San Diego.

Cavalia performers form two rows of white horses.

Cavalia is comprised of a series of set-pieces, including "Carousel."

The only thing you’ll need to thoroughly enjoy a spectacular evening is a jacket and cap to ward off the chill autumn air in the big top. Refreshment is available in the festive lobby, which sports a bar. Indeed, Cavalia is a series of tents, in effect a “tent city” of its own. We recommend equine-lovers also stop in to see the nearby San Diego Museum of Natural History’s comprehensive exhibit “The Horse”, through Jan. 12, along with the spectacular photo display “Vavra’s Vision: The Equine Images of Robert Vavra.”

Over the past nine years, Cavalia’s White Big Top has graced the skylines of the largest North American and European cities. Weighing more than 50 tons, The White Big Top has more than 71,400 square feet of canvas and seven trailers are required to transport it. It is the second-largest touring tent in North America – surpassed only by the one housing Cavalia’s sister production, Odysseo.
In addition to its herd of 14 breeds of equine performers, Cavalia features 42 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and musicians from all over the world. The show has been seen by some 3.5 million people since it began.

Cavalia will show in San Diego at least through Nov. 25,  and may be extended based on ticket demand.

Cavalia takes place in the lot adjacent to Petco Park, 1020 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA – 92101. Standard tickets are priced from $39.50 to $154.50 (plus taxes and fees). Customized experiences that include dining and stables tours are available at premium pricing. For further information visit or call 866-999-8111.

Inside the traveling stables of Cavalia.

Cavaila's traveling stables are quite comfy.

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