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Canadian, French Equestrian Ballets Will Visit Costa Mesa


Two equestrian ballets will be coming to Southern California in 2002: Cheval, a Montreal-based troupe, and France's renowned Theatre Zingaro.

Cheval will visit Los Angeles from Jan. 30 to March 10 and then Costa Mesa from March 20 to April 21 as part of a three-year North American tour. The exact Southland locations are to be announced.

The troupe, founded this year by Gilles Ste. Croix, artistic director of Cirque du Soleil since 1988, will bring more than 30 horses of 17 breeds and 30 acrobats, horse trainers, actors and musicians from Canada, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, France, Lithuania and Spain.

The company opens in Las Vegas on Nov. 20 and plays there through Jan. 6.

Theatre Zingaro will make an exclusive U.S. appearance Oct. 12-Nov. 8 as part of the fourth-annual Eclectic Orange Festival sponsored by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

The company, which includes a cast of 25 horses and seven dancers from Kerala, India, who specialize in the marital-arts form kalaripayatt, will perform on the site designated for the expansion of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, next to the center.

Directed by its founder Bartabas, Theatre Zingaro will perform its latest production, "Triptyk," set to Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps" and "Symphony of Psalms," and Pierre Boulez's "Dialogue de l'ombre double" (The Dialogue of the Double Shadow). The company has traveled to the United States only two other times, each time presented by New York's BAM Next Wave Festival.

"This is not a horse show," said Dean Corey, Philharmonic Society executive director. "It's a performance art, akin to dance. What impacts you the most is the relationship between humans and horses: They're equal. This is not a situation where humans are dominating over horses."

Corey put the cost of the production at about $2.5 million.

"It's the most expensive thing we've ever done," he said. "These horses will fly over from Luxembourg to LAX in two 747s. The airlines will put in boxes and stalls. The horses will be quarantined the entire time, then go through customs. They all have names and passports. Then they'll come down to the site here in special trailers."

The 20 performances will take place under a tent that will accommodate about 1,500 spectators seated on bleachers in the round. The tent will be part of a village area that will include stables and riding facilities.

Tickets go on sale March 1. Information: (949) 553-2422.

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