When I told a friend visiting from the UK we were going to see ‘horse theatre,’ she clearly thought I was making it up. When I finally convinced her it was in fact a reality there were jokes about tutus and visions of a sort of ‘Moulin Rouge equestrian show.’ The Centaur and the Animal at the Chaillot Theatre in Paris is a world away from both. Horses have always held a supreme place in the human imagination but neither of us had predicted the dark and poetic performance that was to follow.
It was created by the French mythical rider Bartabas, famous for his use of horses as a means of artistic expression. His company, Zingaro Equestrian Theatre, has performed all over the world for more than 25 years. For this spectacle he worked with the Japanese choreographer Ko Murobushi, using four horses live on stage. The show focuses on the interaction between man and horse during the process of dressage. Throughout the performance the audience watch as the horse develops a deeper knowledge while the man reverts to his animal instincts. It is the horse and not the rider Bartabas who appears to be master. Eventually we see man and animal merge into one being as The Centaur.
The show was almost indescribable. Magical and calming, dark in essence and lighting, the relationship between Bartabas and his horses is one of mystery.
The Centaur and the Animal at the Chaillot Theatre in Paris until 23rd December.