Two enormous Belgian horses. One large gladiator, with a sandaled foot planted firmly on the back of each. Delicate beings, gracefully performing handstands and other acrobatics on the backs of horses. Chariot races. An elegant goddess, dancing flawlessly with a handsome white Andalusian stallion. “Gladius – The Show” is a breathtaking ballet on horseback.
Yak admiring Director Erik Martonovich and one of the Belgian beauties
Written, produced and performed by Big Horse Productions, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, the most inspiring part of “Gladius” is not just the show, but the fact that the performers have financed the entire production themselves, along with crowd-funding from Kick Starter and some generous private donors. No big corporations with bottom lines, here. Just grass-roots performers, giving audiences their hearts, depending on grass-roots funding.
Speaking of bottom lines, “Gladius” performers will host a ‘Hoofprints’ clinic in each city they play. Children from boys and girls clubs will be invited to participate in outreach sessions including warm-ups, stretching, group games, equestrian vaulting (acrobatics on horseback) and aerial circus arts. I don’t have details at the moment, but for further info, the email contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head Horse Trainer and “goddess” Laura Amandis
I don’t normally go to shows with scantily clad actors. My daughter purchased the tickets because we were going to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver and she assured me that the horses would be fantastic. They were. The thing that stole my heart, was watching how willingly they responded to suggestions from their handlers. Not commands, not demands. One could clearly see that these horses and their people were a team. The most stunning and beautiful example of this is Laura Amandis’ dance with her white Andalusian. At the mere movement of her hand, or the softest suggestion from the lunge whip (which never, by the way, touched the horse), the stallion moved precisely into position, his elegant, curling tail sweeping nearly to the ground, his long mane flowing with his every movement. Even his final bow was executed on the slightest cue from his trainer.
Did I mention the fire? Juggling, spinning and spouting, there is even fire being swallowed. I am not familiar with the art of fire manipulation, so I was dutifully awestruck, watching. I also noticed that the horses weren’t the least bit concerned about it. Now that’s some trust, which only comes from long hours of devoted training.
The show did not end when the lights came up. Afterwards, we were invited to the barn to meet the horses and acrobats. It was exciting to see the 18 hand, 2,000 pound belgians close up. Toddlers in arms reached out to touch their soft noses, while the horses stood patiently, apparently enjoying the attention. My horse-crazy family loved Gladius – The Show. We give it all thumbs up. For more info on locations, dates and tickets see their Facebook page, or website.
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