It took me a while to warm up to Cavalia, the equine extravaganza under the White Big Top at the Florida State Fairgrounds through March 21.
The pre-show audience quiz, projected onto a scrim, was informative 62 horses! 28 stallions! Lusitanos! Oldenburgs! Warmbloods! (breeds, for those of you as un-horsey as I am) but it all seemed a bit self-congratulatory. And after a stunning video of a horse giving birth, the initial acts in this Cirque-esque revue seemed oddly unmoving.
A woman and a horse flirt with each other and a puddle of water; a pack of horses gallops onstage, pursued by a tribe of hootin', hollerin' fellas; a man does some impressive stunts on a big ball, a horse runs around; a troupe of acrobats executes death-defying feats on horseback, including somersaults, but at one point a difficult dismount seems to come perilously close to damaging both horse and rider.
Nothing quite gelled for me: the animals seemed no more than props, and the humans' prowess paled in comparison to the power and grace of the horses. And the Celine Dion-esque background vocals weren't helping any.
But as the show progressed I began to think that the disjointed, showboat-y aspects of the opening acts had been intentional. They seemed a necessary prelude, throwing into relief the quietly harmonious partnering in the evening's loveliest vignette, Le Miroir,