You don't have to convince folks in the West of the value of a good horse.
Smart and powerful, the animals helped early Arizonans cover long distances, herd livestock and carry supplies. On the open range and on the ranch, a man's horse was often his best friend.
That eons-old bond between horses and humans takes center stage Saturday in Scottsdale, when Cavalia opens under a lofty white circus tent at Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road.
The live show features 30 horses - from Spain's majestic Lusitano stallions to leopard-coated Appaloosas bred by the Old West's Nez Perce - performing on a 160-foot stage with 35 human acrobats, aerialists and actors.
But this is no stunt-studded rodeo; it's more like an equine ballet.
Created by Normand Latourelle, one of the founders of renowned Quebec circus Cirque du Soliel, Cavalia blends lighting effects, an original score and fanciful, ever-changing backdrops to create a moody, dreamlike world where the horses are the stars. Their strength, beauty and grace are highlighted in 11 vignettes that showcase both controlled choreography - think synchronized prances and bows - and unbridled galloping. They perform with a fantastic array of maidens, trick riders, dancers, trapezists, musicians and other humans.
Cavalia last toured North America in 2003-2006; it has played to sold-out European audiences for the past two years.