All the pretty horses
Equine-centric 'Cavalia' could bring up to 2,000 spectators nightly
06/24/2009 10:00 PM
For almost two weeks this July, a vacant West Loop parcel that stands as a symbol of the distressed economy will be transformed to host a galloping mélange of equestrians, acrobats, music and horses — many, many horses.
“Cavalia” founder and artistic director Normand Latourelle promised well-wishers at a ceremonial raising of the main tent last week a summer extravaganza featuring music, video projections and 100 performers, including 60 equines and 40 two-legged dramatists. “All of them are artists,” he said.
Latourelle said the show explains the history of the relationship between humans and horses.
“Horses have been with us for the last 5,000 years,” he explained. “They are the representatives of nature. We give them the playground to let them enjoy themselves.”
“We let them cavort, we let them gallop. Half of the time we don’t control them,” he said.
Up to 2,000 people will arrive nightly for a 12-day run that starts July 14. Most shows start at 8 p.m. Latourelle said his organization has secured parking in the West Loop for 600 people each night, and that parking spaces are assigned when spectators purchase their tickets online.
Spots at the University of Illinois-Chicago could handle overflow, according to Latourelle. The firm will hire traffic management aides to guide drivers, noted Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd).
Construction workers are currently building the set for “Cavalia” on vacant land at Racine and Jackson. It’s an empty lot cleared for a stalled mixed-use development that locals call the Fannie Mae site for the company that once operated a facility there.
Eventually, walls will surround the tent. Inside, a 160-foot-wide stage will center the show. Some 2,500 pounds of a sand and dirt mixture will be brought for the horses to run on. Eight additional tents will be constructed to stable the horses as well as stadium seating. The main tent will be air conditioned.
Some neighborhood business owners are hoping the nightly influx of spectators next month will give them a shot in the arm.
“They’re using a parking lot right next door to my store. I’m thinking attendees are going to stop for smoothies,” said Priscilla Taylor, who runs Maui Wowi, a coffee and smoothie store at 850 W. Jackson. “This has been vacant for so long, to have an event here will be a boost.”
Some 80 locals will be hired locally during the show’s duration, according to Ald. Fioretti.
“Cavalia” tickets are priced from $45.50 to $98.50.