Cavalia: if you love horses …

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the 100th Australian show and the Melbourne opening night of Cavalia. Created by Cirque De Soleil’s Normand Latourelle, Cavalia comes from the Spanish and French words for horse: caballo and cheval. It’s a spectacular circus with horses that features acrobatics, aerialists, lasso work and dressage. If you love animals, you will love the show; if you love horses, you may explode.


It’s hard to know where to start, but horses in full gallop with riders hanging off their horse and jumping on and off as the animal bolts across the stage was a highlight.

The live musicians were fabulous, including their newly recruited Melbourne-based singer. The acrobats were strong and unbelievably well balanced, especially their aerial tricks on a galloping horse, and the lasso work was highly impressive with its impeccable timing.

All done in beautifully designed costumes that worked seamlessly with their acts. There are regal costumes for the dressage, elegant flowing silks for trapeze work and warm leathers for the strong acrobats. Best of all though, was watching the riders’ costumes flutter as they rode their horses at a full gallop.

The visual spectacle is unforgettable. The audience gasped when the image of an enormous bucking white horse was projected on a shower of rain that fell on the stage. Panoramic scenes were also projected at the back of the stage; from a Roman castle or autumnal woods, these images took the audience to the scene in a heartbeat.

The sheer size of Cavalia makes you feel like you are part of the action. Certainly my imagination took me to tranquil Lothlórien from Lord of the Rings during the ‘Carousel’ section and to my childhood at the bottom of the garden where the fairies dwell for ‘La Vida’, which featured grounded muscular horses and their riders with flying trapeze artists.

CavaliaI was also touched by the ‘Liberté’ sections where bareback horses played in the space as one man guided them with his words and physical gestures. It was wonderful to watch the horses frolic and to see their personalities. A particularly cheeky horse was biting whichever horse’s haunches were in front of him!

And it’s impossible to not talk about the hairography. It is very clear that nearly everyone in this show is required to grow their hair. I have never seen such beautiful coats or such luxuriously long and silky manes – and their riders have long glorious locks too. With horses is in full gallop and the riders are doing their tricks, I have never seen such glorious hair flowing in the wind.

So saddle up, because you don’t want to miss the humanity, imagery, strength and hairography of Cavalia.

Emily Paddon-Brown

Emily trained at NASDA prior to gaining a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theatre from WAAPA. After graduating she debuted in Guys & Dolls where she had the blessing to understudy the role of Sarah Brown played by Lisa McCune. Emily then travelled to Korea with Jekyll & Hyde understudying the lead role Emma and Lady Beaconsfield. On screen Emily has been a lead in the feature films Only the Young Die Good and The Last of the Living. She has also acted in many short and corporate films including The Melbourne Appreciation Society. Emily has also worked as a producer, director, choreographer, teacher, stage manager and dance captain. For more info visit

Emily Paddon-Brown

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