Horses dazzle
with dances

Famous for their agile maneuvers and gravity-defying aerobatics, the Lipizzaner Stallions lived up to their reputation as Vienna's renowned "dancing white stallions" Thursday night as they strutted their stuff at Blaisdell Arena.

The Lipizzaner Stallions
At Blaisdell Arena.

Repeats 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. today; 2:30 and 6 p.m. tomorrow; 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sept.11; and 12:30 p.m. Sept. 12.

Admission is $19.50, $24.50 and $35, with a $2 discount for 12 and under, and 60 and older.

Call 591-2211.

The stallions will be back for nine more shows today through Sept. 12.

Nearly a dozen stallions pranced through two hours of clever drills performed to classical music or military marches. Their nimble ballet would put many a nondancing human to shame.

Although the opening-night crowd seemed to comprise the range of horse lovers from the polo to rodeo sets, informative narration by Troy Tinker made it easy for the layperson to make sense of the innovative choreography as costumed riders demonstrated age-old traditions that allowed the audience to see the strength, stamina and balance of these magnificent creatures.

Although it seemed the riders were perfectly still, horses and riders worked as a cohesive team, with the riders communicating through subtle body language and manipulation of the reins.

One of the most striking numbers had one of the stallions dusted in silver glitter from head to hooves, a disco-sparkle version of My Little Pony, dancing to a swing tune that had both children and adults mesmerized.

You can catch the Lipizzaner Stallions at the Blaisdell Arena.

Two horses created a mirror image with precise movements, a perfect example of equine artistry. Maneuvers like the "airs above the ground," which includes the "capriole," "courbette" and the "levade" -- a series of ancient maneuvers -- are the most noteworthy feats the horses perform during the show.

During the capriole, the horse leaps into the air, draws its forelegs under its chest and kicks out its hind legs, with or without a rider. A courbette is when the horse balances on its hind legs, with its forelegs completely off the ground. During the levade, a horse must remain in a hunched position at a 45-degree angle to the ground.

"The Baby," at 6 years old, is the youngest member of the team, but he seems to have perfected the capriole, leaping into the air, drawing his forelegs in and violently kicking back his hind legs. He was rewarded by the rousing cheers of audience members.

The stallions generally engage in daily training for about six to nine years before they can perform.

Information about dressage, or equestrian ballet, and its history also was provided. Those whose only encounter with horses was watching old episodes of "Mr. Ed" on TV learned how Gen. George S. Patton saved the horses, bred and trained for battle more than 400 years ago, from extinction at the close of World War II. The equestrian work of art displayed an array of moves used during the war to protect riders in battle.

The art of dressage was displayed with graceful walks, precise trots and canters following the same 1-2-3 rhythm of the waltz.

The animals' personalities seemed to show in their performance with egos and attitudes seeking praise that the audience was happy to deliver, rewarded by fabulous bows that earned even louder applause.

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