Normand Latourelle, founder and artistic director of Cavalia, creates a show made to touch the hearts of urban dwellers.
Very few people know the satisfaction of seeing their most fanciful dreams become a reality. Among them is Normand Latourelle, the founder and artistic director of Cavalia. The French Canadian attributes his success to his singular determination to live life on his own terms. “My advice to people is to never give up,” Latourelle says. “Fight for your dreams.”
Since cofounding Cirque du Soleil in 1985 and bringing Cavalia to Los Angeles in 2004, Latourelle has earned a worldwide reputation for his ability to create innovative productions that leave audiences, of all ages, wide-eyed and profoundly touched by the relationship between man and horse.
“Cavalia is a fantasy that shows the love affair between humans and nature, with the horse speaking for nature,” Latourelle says. “Cavalia gives people an opportunity to listen to nature through the horse. We don’t get a chance to experience that much in our urban culture.”
Over 2.5 million people worldwide have seen Cavalia since its debut in Quebec in 2003. It returns to Los Angeles on January 19 with a completely new show. Latourelle says it has the same spirit, but all of the horses, except four, and all the actors, except one, are new.
“If you saw the show in 2004, you’ll barely recognize it,” he says. “It’s not like a movie. Cavalia is a living thing that is constantly evolving. In 2004, the show was just a baby. It’s grown up now.”
There’s also a new venue: the White Big Top that Latourelle says was created to complement the majesty of the show. Inside, it can seat 2,300 people and has a stage the width of a football field. A 210-foot-wide screen provides a backdrop for special effects and projections.
“It was essential to us that each spectator, no matter where they were seated, has the feeling of living a unique and immersive experience, and that they see the horses from ears to hooves,” Latourelle says.
He points out that although there are plenty of horses in the show (49 to be exact) it is not a horse show. “You don’t have to be a horse person to enjoy Cavalia,” Latourelle says. “Just like you don’t have to be an acrobat to enjoy Cirque du Soleil.”
Latourelle himself was not a “horse person” before realizing Cavalia. He just knew that he wanted to do a new show with horses in it, and then, after 10 years of hard work and collaboration with equestrian experts, trainers, lighting designers, acrobats, dancers and others, the fantasy born in his imagination became a reality.
“I’ve learned a lot about how the horse can be a speaker on behalf of nature,” he says about his own equine discoveries over the years. “If you are brutal to a horse, just like if you are brutal to nature, you will suffer the consequences. But if we go slow, if we follow the natural rhythm, if we respect it, we can feel it get close to us and we can develop this wonderful relationship and bond.”
Latourelle has also learned a lot about himself. “The most challenging thing for me personally is to be both the producer and the artistic director,” he says. “The producer has a schedule, has to make the numbers, has to be logical. The art director side of me sees what is beautiful and must have it.” Latourelle notes that his art director side always wins.
And if you ask the woman in his life what the hardest part of his job is, she would say that Latourelle works too much.
“But for me, it’s my passion,” he says. “I’ve been doing shows all my life. I did my first one at 13 and left school at 16 to do more. I don’t know anything else. I love what I do. I’ve created my own life.”
Copyright © Kim Calvert / 2011 Singular Communications, LLC.