In my first year of high school, in an attempt to feel more comfortable at school dances, I decided to take dancing classes. My first lesson was also my last. I was not only the sole male in the class, but also at least seven years older than the next oldest student. When the teacher explained to me (in front of the roomful of giggling, preteen ballerinas) that I would have to wear a dance belt, I was mildly embarrassed. When the teacher further explained that a dance belt was not, in fact, some kind of girdle but actually more akin to an industrial-strength jock strap, I gathered up what was left of my pride and left the class. That half-hour session just reinforced what I already knew: dancing is hard. It's hard to learn, hard to teach and hard to perform.
However, the 54 magnificent horses in Cavalia make it look easy. And it's not just dancing. Cavalia is an equestrian Cirque du Soleil. (Cavalia's artistic director actually helped build Cirque du Soleil from 1985-1990). Like the better-known Cirque, Cavalia attempts to transport its audience to places that might look familiar but exist only in the imagination. It would be easy to be cynical before seeing the show, but near impossible to not be impressed by the show's conclusion. And unlike those horse shows you've heard about in Tijuana, this one probably won't leave you questioning your humanity.
The troupe has been touring North America since 2003, and this is the last chance to see them before they return to their residency in Brussels, Belgium. Whether you're a fan of horses, acrobatics, beautiful music, well-built men and women in revealing costumes or just really huge dance belts, this show won't disappoint.
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Cavalia at the Verizon Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, (866) 999-8111; www.cavalia.net. Through Sun., Jan. 21. Call for times. $30-$180.