Cavalia Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 2 2009

Under the influence of ideas about the noble savage, French aristocrats used to dress up as peasants and gambol through landscapes carefully contrived to look natural. Cavalia has a lot in common with those aristocrats. The first half of the nearly three-hour spectacle, in particular, is devoted to promoting a sentimental vision of the noble horse and its mystical bond with mankind. Eerie, Enya-esque music plays while unbridled stallions and geldings traipse across the enormous stage. It's a half hour before anyone even rides one. The horse trainers are at pains to create a sense of almost telepathic rapport with the beasts, and, yes, they do some marvelous things. But Cavalia is no less about enforcing obedience than any other equestrian show; its attempt to pretend otherwise makes it dishonest, demeaning to the animals (who are made to do anthropomorphic tricks like bowing), and boring. The second half is infinitely better. For one thing, that's when some utterly amazing human acrobats get to perform. It's also the part of the show set aside for an extended western trick-riding bit that's fast, funny, exciting, accomplished, and, best of all, straightforward: the horses run and jump, the humans show off. --Tony Adler

Price: $45.50-$98.50

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