Posts Tagged ‘cavalia


Bon Voyage – The Show


Bon Voyage – The Show

M2 Productions

Jupiters Theatre

September 10 2014


Reviewed by Lisa Gallagher




In Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days Mr Phileas Fogg’s balloon trip created a magical adventure for us all. In 2014, producer extraordinaire Mr Michael Boyd will relive that journey in song, performance and magic, assisted by thousands of sequins, feathers, high kicks, top hats, tails, animals and fire! Introducing Bon Voyage – The Show, opening at Jupiters Theatre on the Gold Coast from September 10 for a limited season.


With the magic of the world’s greatest destinations as the setting, Boyd’s Bon Voyage celebrates the mystique and elegance of old world adventure – from Broadway to Bangkok, from Africa through India and the colour of Bollywood to the romance of Parisian cabaret, with the final destination being the wonder that is Australia.


A world premiere season, Bon Voyage stars 13 world-class performers and an equine superstar direct from Canada’s blockbuster touring show Cavalia, on stage at Jupiters Theatre in a kaleidoscopic Las Vegas style revue that will take audiences around the world in 80 minutes!


The idea of the show holds a promise of adventure, and the ambience on arrival does not disappoint. The ushers are well dressed, their hostess uniforms look great. On Opening Night, Michael himself introduced the show, informing the audience that this is his 3rd show at Jupiters. He then recognised that the creative cast and performers were all Queenslanders, which was great to hear. The Gold Coast as a whole does not generally support culture at a grass roots level (especially our local council!), so it is wonderful that Michael and Jupiters are supporting local performers and the arts community.


The show starts with a fantastic character – Miss Aviation, played by Drag Queen Miss Synthetic, in the role of flight attendant. In her opening monologue there is a lot of sexual innuendo, and this continues in her segments throughout the show. It is extremely funny, but the 80ish year old man beside me looked markedly uncomfortable during these times. I would normally not hesitate to recommend a Jupiters show to families with children, and whilst the rest of the production is fine for kids, Miss Aviation’s segments are definitely aimed towards adults. Nicole Sokolovic and Dean Giltinan head a wonderful ensemble; the performers are all very talented and able to captivate the audience.


First stop is New York and the standard is set! The performance starts with a fantastic shadow acting piece. This is followed by great, polished performances that are very enjoyable. The song choices are excellent and the performers are on cue with their singing and dancing.


This momentum is not achieved throughout the whole show. The show seems to be more of a tribute to the stopover cities, rather than a true symbolic cultural representation. With that said, the show is fast paced, and the time spent in each country was just right, with set changeovers seamless and quick. A variety of songs, routines and outstanding costumes make for an exciting show. As expected with Michael Boyd, there were well placed interludes of visually appealing illusions to entertain the audience.



The show finishes up back in Australia. Being a proud Queenslander, I was expecting to see some Gold Coast themed action and a tribute to our beautiful beaches. Instead, the producers have focused on our bush heritage.


There were some good old songs, to which the Aussies in the opening night audience had a sing along, and for the last few songs, an Australian Outback Spectacular style finale, a (Cavalia) horse is brought on stage. Mikayla Barber obviously knows what she is doing with her horse, Maverick, but I do not see a need for a horse to be included in the show and feel it is only included for the wow factor. Whilst Maverick did settle down, the horse looked out of place and uncomfortable on the small Jupiters stage.


But from the hot jazz of New York, to the tribal beat and colourful costumes of Africa, to the sheer fun and sparkling sequins of Paris, Bon Voyage is a very entertaining night out!






Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse



Normand Latourelle

Under the White Big Top

6th March – 31st March 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


If you love Cirque du Soleil, and you love horses, you can’t miss Cavalia.

CAVALIA  spectacle générale 2


Cavalia is a fabricated word, inspired by the Spanish and French words for horse (caballo and cheval) and the English word cavalry. The tone of the show comes from the philosophy adopted by the company, which is one of mutual respect, kindness, patience and trust, but at times this is close to being lost, as we are caught up in the excitement of daring feats performed by acrobats and aerialists whose tricks depend upon the horses running in continuous circles. Despite its claims, Cavalia is human-centric. Nevertheless…


A horse wanders into the space, curious, exploring, and enjoying its freedom from saddle, bridle and halter. Its eyes are dark and shy and glistening knowingly in the light. It takes in a human figure in the same moment we do; she gradually makes her way out from behind an abstract wall of golden diamonds, hanging like a seventies interior decorator’s dream, a mid-curtain of forest leaves. She darts out and across to a pond in the middle of the sand stage and steps into it, across it, reaching out. The horse is tentative and approaches slowly, turning away and back again, as a child would. They each take a drink and form an undeniable bond, which warms our hearts and quietens our minds, despite the wet weather, the stressful day, the heavy traffic, the cold, hard discomfort of the White Big Top’s seats, the oddity of the show’s trivia-night-style-start, whatever… This is going to be a different show. We can tell. Or can we?



Cavalia is a celebration of the unique bond humans and horses have developed over five thousand years of working and playing together. With the emphasis on play, Artistic Director Normand Latourelle, explained to me that the idea is for the horses to be able to enter a playground, not a workspace. We clearly see that this is the intent, but I’d love to see more of this, more of the play. The play is the highlight. Although I admire the skill and I appreciate that entire lives are dedicated to refining the art and competing in the sport, I’m not a big equestrian fan. But I will tell you this. I’m an equine fan. Before an entire side of our mountain became a suburban block called Buderim Pines, I used to ride with friends there, sometimes bareback when we could get away with it, down the hill and under the trees, over fallen branches and through the creek. It was their property, their business, and their love and care of horses that instilled in me a deep appreciation and love of the animal, if not the skill, strength and discipline to keep up with it in a more serious vein. After we were married, Sam and I rode bareback at North Shore, and at any opportunity I still love to ride in Mooloolah, at Atalanta’s place. And, let’s not forget that like most Aussies, I have a healthy regard for the race that stops the nation.



This is a show not just for horse lovers. There is enough beautiful music, exuberant dance and impressive acrobatics, including some sumptuous aerial work – some elegant flying and some slightly more aggressive free falling from swings set high in the grid – to keep the non-horse lovers happy too.  Vaguely following the relationship between horses and humans through the ages, we are immersed in magical environments – caves, forests, ice, stars, the Colosseum, the Wild West – with the aid of evocative lighting (Alain Lortie) and digital images (Erick Villeneuve) projected onto a 60-metre wide curved screen, an arc that serves as the cyclorama, extending across the stage. The space is generous enough to allow the horses to reach full gallop, often with standing riders performing impressive stunts as they race from one side of the space to the other, but at times running completely free. It’s a truly magnificent sight.

A beautiful segment in the second act, Grand Liberte again featuring horses without saddles, bridles and halters, cavorting, nuzzling and playing, made our hearts melt. (N.B. If you want to do the 30-minute interval in style and comfort, make sure you book a Rendez-vous VIP Package because there ain’t nothin’ but popcorn and ten dollar beers while you’re standing around in the holding pen that is the other tent! Oh, and you’ll have to fight the punters to get near a souvenir program in the “store” because there ain’t no ushers offering them).  A true Horse Whisperer, Thomas Aubron, communicated quietly and kindly with a group of seven or eight Arabians, encouraging them to move together, like the wild brumbies we love to pretend to hate here. It’s The Man From Snowy River meets The Horse Whisperer but sporting finer features, with longer locks and a flowing costume incorporating 25 yards of imported silk.



Manon Desmarais’s costumes are superb, lending an ethnic, and then ethereal air to proceedings. Picture, if you will, Woodford Folk Festival on New Year’s Eve (no, not in the Pineapple Lounge, but milling about in the streets!), with everybody dressed in either gallant Lord of the Rings elfin style garb, or funky tribal gear by local designers (yeah, that’s right, I’m claiming them; Byron Bay is local enough!), Etnix and Loose Lemur.



Look, some of us are not easily impressed. Some of us are lucky to see a LOT of stuff, and it’s a little disappointing when something doesn’t live up to your expectations. And this horses-and-humans stuff isn’t quite what it promises to be. Almost! But not quite. There are some slow moments, from an entertainment and engagement point of view, there are unnecessarily extended scenes, the finale is misjudged and turns out to be a bit of an anti-climax after one of the best, most exciting scenes of the show, and perhaps the philosophy of man-follows-horse has not been adhered to entirely, but look, three and a half million people all over the world, and now Brisbane’s opening night and Week 1 audiences have seen Cavalia. So you must see it for yourself!


The waterlogged Australian premiere on Wednesday night marked the company’s 2000th performance. (And it’s worth noting here that after any given performance, provided you’ve pre-booked the experience, you can meet the horses, during an exclusive behind-the-scenes Stable Tour!). I don’t think Cavalia will leave anybody really wanting…unless they’re wanting more, in which case, they’ll have to save up and see it a second time, or wait for Latourelle’s newest show, Odysseo, to reach our shores.





Cavalia – a chat with Artistic Director Normand Latourelle




ABOUT CAVALIA INC. – Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Cavalia Inc. operates two separate touring shows, Cavalia and Odysseo, both of which marry the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. Cavalia, seen by some 3.5 million people across North America and Europe since its 2003 debut, celebrates the relationship between humans and horses by loosely recounting the evolution of this bond. Odysseo, which premiered in autumn 2011, takes the next step, leading viewers on a journey through some of the breathtaking landscapes horses have helped humans discover around the globe. Follow Cavalia Inc.’s latest developments at or


In his 40-year career in the performing arts, Normand Latourelle has followed a path that has led him through all aspects of the industry, having occupied every position from lighting designer to agent, production manager, director and artistic director. A pioneer of Cirque du Soleil from 1985 to 1990, he has been the driving force behind many impressive and memorable events, such as the sound and light show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and the 350th anniversary celebrations for the founding of Montreal. A visionary in constant quest for innovation, Normand Latourelle is renowned for combining different forms of artistic expression and reinventing the scenic space, with the ultimate goal of taking audiences to new dimensions. Since 2003, Normand Latourelle has been fully dedicated to Cavalia, instilling his talent, passion and imagination into the productions. In 2007, he received the Ordre national du Québec for his achievements.


I was lucky to catch up with Cavalia’s Artistic Director, Normand Latourelle, for a chat about his spectacular shows, and his approach to working with horses. This is actually our chat transcribed so sit down with your preferred beverage and enjoy the conversation…


XS: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, Normand. You’re the artistic Director of an incredible new show, opening in Brisbane on Wednesday night. I think it’s safe to say there’s nothing like Cavalia. We’ve certainly not seen anything like it here.

NL: In Europe and the states there’s no other show to compare it. So it’s about time we come to Australia. We’re very pleased to finally bring it to Australia.

It’s a challenge but I decided to bring the whole show, you know, not just the smaller version of the show. That was very important to me.

XS: I guess you didn’t want to compromise on the integrity of the show, of your vision.

NL: No, we didn’t.

You know we travel with about fifty-five, fifty-six horses and we have a farm in Canada so, you know, when we feel it’s necessary, we just exchange horses… The director is looking after the horses here.


XS: Can you tell me about the horses? Your approach to training and working with the horses?

NL: The thing is we’re trying to follow their rhythm and not impose on them our rhythm. We want them to come on stage and be happy so in order to do that we just…we don’t push them. So when they come on stage we want them to feel like it’s their playground, not a place to work, not a place they don’t want to go. And that’s very important you see, because for the first half of the show we have three horses on stage… they improvise with … some kind of improvisation. It’s choreographed, obviously, but if the horse decides to do differently we have to follow them… I would say, compared to the horse world in general, it’s a soft way to train horses in general.

XS: Are your artists already accustomed to working with the horses in this way?

NL: We have three type of artists. The woman that is our musician, so that’s a separate group, and we have the acrobats and the riders. So we, of course when we bring acrobats, we have to add the acrobats become involved with the horses and start to do their own training with the horses to make them understand what the horse is all about. I mean, some of the acrobats who are there for a long time, for a year or a year and a half, also start to become riders so it’s a long process. For the riders, we hired riders who are in very good shape, we also train some riders, and we have some riders who are trained in acrobatics on the horse also, of course. If they don’t do acrobatics we train them to do so. It’s also a long process to make an acrobat become a rider or a rider become an acrobat.

The most important thing is that all of them have to know the horses that are on stage at the same time as them.


XS: So because the performers are following the horses and allowing them to improvise, does that mean the show is continually evolving? Do we never see the same show twice?

NL: That’s totally right. The show varies, from one show to the next the show varies 10 minutes, minus or plus, and most of the time it’s because the horses decide differently and we follow them. And for me it’s not a problem.

This is where we get the best out of them is when they do what they want and sometimes they follow the pattern we offer them but other times they do it the way they want, which is also okay for us. You know, it’s not – compared to a traditional circus – you know, at the end of a number in a traditional circus, the trainer raises his arm and says ta-dah, it’s all about me, I can totally control my horses. In our show it’s about the horses so instead of raising our hand, the artist directs their hand to the horse and praises the horse to be such a partner. It’s a totally different approach.


XS: You’ve completely reversed the traditional notion of  humans controlling animals.

NL: Yeah, definitely. You know, when we – I’m one of the guys who started Cirque du Soleil – and when we started the show, I was very, very proud to explain that, you know, we were able to do a good show, a good circus, without animals, and we were totally against using animals in the show. So when I decided to move to the animal world, first of all I understood very fast working with horses. Horses were domesticated animals. I would never do a show with elephants or lions. But horses are domesticated animals and during their life with humans for the last five thousand years, it’s nothing new and it’s nothing that is going to change tomorrow because even if all the horses become wild tomorrow they will not, they will come back to their stable. The other part which was very important for me is that I decided to do a show with animals and I want the animals to be able to express themselves and also to enjoy what they do, and from the beginning that’s what I’ve been telling the trainer and telling all the artists and creators, co-creators…that was the rule. And that’s what we’ve pretty much achieved. I mean, we make some mistakes sometimes and you know, we don’t yield, I mean it’s a thin line, you know they’re still animals, they don’t think like us and sometime we react some way and they don’t like it.

But the idea is to be very humble and also to be able to understand at first what’s going on with the animal, that’s more important. The same thing we have a lot of art where we ride the horses, because I’m talking a lot about the parts where we don’t ride, where the horses are free on stage…when we have up to eight horses together doing the same thing. You know, I accept that the horse do not have their heads at the same level, where the horses have to be exactly, exactly precise and doing the same thing.

Cavalia is not a competition, it is more about the relationship between humankind and horses. And yes, in the last five thousand years we have ridden horses, and that’s what is also part of the show – we do ride them – but we don’t push them to the point they become top dressage competition horse, just show what they can do. It’s the same thing, we have a horse that jumps bars at one point in the show, you know, we don’t raise the bar as high as the world…even if he could do it, we’re not putting the bars as far as what you can do at the Olympics or any competition. We just think that it’s beautiful to see the horse jump and we just ask him to do reasonably high, to be at the same time impressive but not to hurt himself; not to put in any kind of danger.


XS: So the respect for the horses wins in the end. More so than story? Do we get a story as well or is it more about enjoying the beauty and strength and power of the horses?

NL: Well, it’s a mix of both. We do have a very subtle storyline that come from the discovery of the horse and slowly it built from communication and there are a lot of moment at the beginning of the show where we just share the space and we discover them and they discover us and we become friends, and then we start to climb on them, which they accept, you know, gently to be climbed on. And we feel the pace of the show this way is more that we move through the time. It’s also showed by the multi-media aspect of the show.

We have large-scale images that project, that shows expression of human through the time of what we have seen from horses. One of the first images we project is a man cave and on the wall of the man cave is a drawing of the horse…so we project that image and then we go to our time. The images are very artistic but at the same time, it gives you a feeling of moving through time. It’s not explicit, it’s not a historical, it’s more done like a poem, you know, the way you write a poem. It doesn’t start with “once upon a time”, it more starts with “this happened…”

XS: Since 2003 has Cavalia undergone many changes conceptually?

NL: For audiences who saw Cavalia in 2003 they will recognise maybe thirty percent of it. We have changed about seventy percent of it. There’s two or three reasons. Every time in a show like that, every time you change a horse or you change an artist, you have to adapt the show to their own personality…the other thing is that you know, when I started this show, I knew nothing about horses, it was my first experience in the horse world so I learned about it and that’s the beauty of having a live show, throughout the year I was able to upgrade some parts and bring the technology, it had evolved, and it became a little bit bigger. When we started the show we had only two acrobats flying and now we have five of them.

We just push it and also, I tried to bring the show to a point where we appreciate equally, all of the parts. When I was first in the show, for the first year, there were some parts in the show I was not happy with so I took a year to adapt to a show I liked, then hopefully, the show I see is the show everybody like.

XS: Did you ever think you were going to be working with horses? What did you want to be when you grew up?

NL: Well, when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, until I had to go to the hospital…and then my ideas changed, I wanted to become a politician…until I was kicked out of school by the director so that also changed my mind…I was so frustrated that I decided to put on some shows….I created my first show, I was about thirteen years old, and I left school at sixteen to become professional and I always did that. I create and produce. I’ve done everything. I’ve done light design, I’ve done sound design, I’ve been a roadie, I drove trucks. There’s nothing here that I haven’t done. Publisher, record producer…Cavalia for me is like, you know, the achievement of all the experience I had, including Cirque du Soleil experience.

It took me ten years from having the idea to having the first show of Cavalia. What you see in Cavalia is the mix of everything I know: lights, sound, music, large-scale images, special effects, of course acrobatics, dance, and of course now, the equestrian world.


XS: Are you already working on the next show? We are looking forward to hearing more about Odysseo…

NL: Odysseo just got started a year ago, I’m still tweaking it, still working on it, so I have no plans for a third one because it’s a long process. You know, its always long because not only I want my show to be so different – I challenge myself – to create things that nobody ever seen before. That’s what the challenge was with Cirque and that is the challenge with Cavalia, you know, make the horses comfortable in another environment. But I didn’t want to make another copy of Cavalia so Oddyseo is like the limit of what can be done on stage, and for the next one I don’t know exactly.

XS: Thank you so much for your time today, and congratulations on the Australian premiere of Cavalia! We’ll see you on Wednesday for opening night!





Cavalia’s Horses are Here!


TODAY, February 19, 42 majestic horses, stars of the multimedia and acrobatic spectacular Cavalia: A Magical

Encounter Between Human and Horse, have arrived by semi-trailers in Brisbane for the first time after a relaxing

21-day stay at Eastern Creek Animal Quarantine Station in Sydney.


Prior to the mandatory government quarantine in NSW, they flew across the Pacific Ocean from the show’s last stop in San Diego, California, aboard a chartered MD-11 aircraft equipped with luxury boxes. For the transoceanic voyage to the Land Down Under, the Cavalia herd, constituted of 10 breeds hailing from Canada, Europe, and the USA, was accompanied by a dedicated team of Cavalia’s equine specialists, including head trainer Gregory Molina, a veterinarian, two health technicians and six grooms.

                        Cavalia features 42 horses and 36 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, and musicians from around the world, performing under a 35-metre-tall White Big Top.

In the show, spectators are drawn into a dream-like world, as horses and artists interact in front of a constantly changing 60-metre-wide digital projection screen.


Cavalia Carrousel




Cavalia & Cocktails at Emporium Hotel…coming soon


Cavalia & Cocktails at Emporium Hotel this March – April


It’s the coming together of special things – luxury accommodation, flawless service and fine cocktails paired with one of the world’s most anticipated live shows in Cavalia, making its Australian debut in Brisbane in March.

Tickets on sale now

…but before you book, consider this special offer from Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel!

A show unlike any other, Cavalia celebrates the relationship between humans and horses, virtually reinventing the equestrian arts, and to celebrate the Australian premiere season, Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel has announced the

Cavalia & Cocktails package


one night in a luxurious king suite, valet parking and two pre-event Cavalia-inspired cocktails at the stunning cocktail bar for $299 during March and April.*

Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar

Emporium Hotel is the closest luxury hotel to Cavalia’s extraordinary White Big Tops in Brisbane, based at the Airport DFO car park.

Emporium Hotel’s Cocktail Bar, one of the most beautiful in the country, continues to win applause for the inspired cocktail menu, and fantastic team behind the bar. Guests are guaranteed an evening of sophistication at the Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar before making their way to the White Big Top to enjoy the critically acclaimed, world-wide phenomenon that is Cavalia. Enjoyed by some 3.5 million people across North American and Europe, Cavalia is a lavish production involving 50 magnificent horses and featuring 42 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and musicians from all over the world.

For locals wanting something special, or for visitors to Brisbane for the Cavalia premiere season,

this is the package to have.


WHAT: Cavalia & Cocktails at Emporium Hotel, Brisbane


Date:  March- April 2013


Location:  Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar; Emporium Hotel 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley

Ticket Price:  $299 per night (Tickets include King Suite, valet parking and two pre-event cocktails from the bar)

*Subject to availability, valid during March and April

Bookings:  P: 07 3253 6914 or E: