Cavalia, an amazing spectacle of horses and riders in a blend of dance, acrobatics, visual effects and live music, is just on the second eve of its month-long string of Calgary performances.
There is little doubt the critically acclaimed show will generate amazement and plenty of wide smiles in the audience. The biggest grin, however, will likely be seen on Olds College alumnus Stephanie Evans, either in the performance area or behind the scenes. For Evans, freshly graduated from last year’s (Equine Science) English Horsemanship Diploma program, just getting to do her practicum with Cavalia, let alone being hired afterwards as a fulltime groom and rider in-training, was a dream come true.
She has since learned that she is just weeks away from riding in the main program itself.
“I start my training today,” says Evans. “I’m riding every day and I’m officially going into the show in the next few weeks.”
Evans arrived at Olds College in 2008, already armed with equine experience and all-consuming passion for horses. She credits her time in the Equine Science program for truly honing her skills and bringing her knowledge of equine anatomy and horsemanship up to its current level.
“It definitely improved my riding skills and my ability to train horses, “says Evans. “I had a really tough horse my second year and it made me a very solid rider – I feel like I can ride anything now.”
Prior to the beginning of the Calgary stint, she got to revisit Olds College in mid-May while the 51 horses on tour were temporarily housed and cared for in both the original Olds College Riding Arena and the new Shirley McClellan Riding Arena. Both riding surfaces were used as well as the turnout areas (allowing the horses to move freely) in both arenas.
“It was very gratifying to know an organization of Cavalia’s calibre felt comfortable having their horses here,” says Marion Anderson, Olds College Equine Science Program Coordinator.
Cavalia is a Montreal-based show that has performed more than 1600 times for over 2.5 million people in the last seven years. It has earned rave reviews from tastemakers such as the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Larry King, and O, the Oprah Magazine. A typical show features 39 artists, acrobats, dancers, riders and musicians from Canada, France, the United States, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia and Russia. The artistic director, Normand Latourelle, helped build the famed Cirque du Soleil from 1985 to1990.