Behind the Scenes: Cavalia bungee acrobat audition

Safe to say when Jay Leno described Cavalia as "the greatest show I have ever seen!" he was likely not referring to the one featuring Loni's stuntwork you see here, despite some truly exceptional (and patient) coaching from acrobat Jennifer Lécuyer.

On the set of 'Cavalia' - a show featuring 49 horses (11 different breeds), acrobats, riders, dancers, musicians, vocalists, and stunning projection and scenery.

“Horses aren’t used to seeing humans upside down.”

The corollary of course is that I’m not used to seeing our SI TV host Loni Stark upside down.

Once again, we decide against doing a conventional interview and push the boundaries of broadcast journalism to the very limits in an effort to test artistic director Alain Gauthier’s theory. Sure, London has the Olympics, but San Jose has Cavalia

I’m not exactly sure whose idea it was to hook Loni up to the bungee harness and jettison her to the top of the white big top in San Jose, but I was just happy to be on good old terra firma trying (and failing often) to keep her centered in the frame of the 60D.

A PR rep told us on the day we shot the video that a local television host got motion sickness when she attempted these rolls and had to abort her “audition”.

Safe to say when Jay Leno described Cavalia as “the greatest show I have ever seen!” he was likely not referring to the one featuring  Loni’s stuntwork you see here, despite some truly exceptional (and patient) coaching from acrobat Jennifer Lécuyer.

On the set of ‘Cavalia’ – a show featuring 49 horses (11 different breeds), acrobats, riders, dancers, musicians, vocalists, and stunning projection and scenery.

According to a spokesperson on the day we shot the video, a local television host got motion sickness when she donned the bungee harness and had to abort her “audition”. I’m not going to say exactly what happens here, lest I spoil the surprise, however, it’s worth pointing out that for better or worse we’re somewhat battle tested thanks to Cirque, and the one time we all tried to lynch Loni.

And another dubious first: be sure you catch my America’s Got Talent inspired critique at the very end.

If you missed our earlier coverage, the production and its can’t-miss home under the white big top (the stables alone span 16,500 square feet) across from the airport and right next to highway 101 is now in San Jose as part of its 2012 tour – I was told by email this morning the show has been extended (again) to August 19. Cy published her Cavalia review on SI, and was quite smitten. She wrote: “Cavalia is not just for horse lovers. It’s for anyone whose computer and cell phone threaten to turn him into a zombie.”

A STARK ASIDE

Although as part of our arts coverage we’ve gone backstage for years, and have been fortunate enough to be included in media tours, film openings etc. Cavalia marks the first time an entire rehearsal was shutdown to accommodate a Stark Insider shoot. More impressive still, was the lavish set. To sit under the falling snow, with the projection screen and lights working their magic was very much like being on a movie set. Maybe not The Dark Night Rises (there would need to be lots and lots of green screen); more like Blade Runner, but with horses in place of replicants.

MORE: A Dream of Freedom: ‘Cavalia’ review, plus rare video interview with founder Normand Latourelle

On an economic note, one thing that often goes unmentioned when it comes to these types of touring shows is the positive impact they can have on the local economy. I’m told that in addition to the 120 people Cavalia employs permanently, another 200 are hired locally in each city visited. And since we’re on a trivia roll, 100 (!) trucks are required to move the material. That’s about 98 more than it took to move Duran Duran’s brit invasion back in the day. Lady Gaga I’m sure as sure can be has them all beat.

Watch now and find out if Loni (a) wins Gold: (b) gets a job with Cavalia; (c) manages not to attack her cameraperson/director (with preference for the latter s’il vous plait).

Bonus: because I often like obscure film references, look for the Blade Runner homage. Can you spot it?

BEHIND THE SCENES: Cavalia – Bungees Cavaliers

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