The time has come to see Horses of Cavalia, Smuin's Ballet and all that jazz thats coming up at the Rrazz!

Sylvia Zerbini is completely at home with her horses!
photo credit: Jean-Francois Leblanc

If you are a horse lover and have not seen the “CAVALIA” equestrian cirque nouvelle, a thrilling multimedia theatrical experience that is the equivalent of an ethological equestrian union between man, woman and horse, on a 160 foot stage, then listen up - - because that opportunity is about to return once again on November 16 after a 6 year drought! Created by Norman Latourelle, one of the founders of Canada’s famed, Cirque du Soleil, this show does for the equestrian lover, what the original Cirque du Soleil has done for the circus. It re-invented the old style circus horse show, with horses parading in a small ring, generally alongside three other ringts under a typical circus tent and elevated it to a new plane.
I have been anxiously awaiting this show to return and I just received notice last week that it will once again arrive in the Bay Area on November 16th, in a huge circus tent, near AT & T Park in San Francisco. I am sure that if you don’t take action very quickly, then this moment will be a moment lost to time. In 2004, the ticket sales astounded everyone and many who wished to see the show were disappointed.

The previous shows were built around the talents of Frenchman Frederic Pignon and his wife Magali Delgado, and their predominantly large horses (Lusitanos, Belgians, and Warm Bloods), but they retired from Cavalia and returned to France this past year and a young and very talented trainer, Sylvia Zerbini, has brought her own Arabian horses into the mix. Sylvia has worked with the show for the past two years and has now taken over as the starring act. She is the only woman in the world who works with nine Arabian horses, unbridled, in a liberty act of breathtaking beauty.

I caught up with Sylvia in Denver this past week and was excited to experience her excitement and commitment first hand, even if only over the phone. She reveals how this new show has matured and grown into an even more vibrant production than was brought to the sand covered stage 6 years ago in Berkeley and San Francisco by Cavalia #1. I asked her why her preference to use Arabs in her act and she said it was for their special ability to perform with high speed and agility in acrobatic performances. The ages of the horses range between 3 years and 13 years and consist entirely of geldings and stallions.

Yes, there are still plenty of Lusitanos, Percherons, Belgians, and Quarter horses, plus over 100 performers (including aerialists, tumblers, acrobats, musicians, a vocalist and dancers) and . One of the most spectacular elements in “Cavalia” is its integration of all these elements into a highly choreographed production, melded with incredibly sophisticated digital multimedia backdrops projected onto a 200 foot screen, live music and a living kaleidoscope of lighting effects. The light and visuals take you back in time to ancient Rome, to a mystical and exquisite landscape, through the seasons and through the looking glass.

All of this equestrian nirvana is contained within the largest touring white big top in the world. The tent alone is 110 feet tall and covers over 26,000 square feet, large enough to accommodate a stage as wide as football field width (160 feet), and all the seating and mechanicals that make it work. When you walk into the tent and see the staging and its awesome size, it almost leaves you frozen in your place, before the show even begins. It is truly amazing!

This shown has been seen by more than 2.5 million people worldwide. Cavalia is a living tribute to the beauty and highly personal relationship that humans and horses have shared together for centuries. Cavalia has traveled throughout Europe, including multiple cities in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and North America, including New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, California, Georgia, North Carolina and Washington DC. If you would like to check the latest developments with Cavalia, you can check out or . For information on regular tickets, plus special package deals, visit range in price on weekdays between $40.50 and $116 for general admission (with reductions for Seniors, Juniors and Children) and on weekends between $49.50 and $125.50. The toll free phone number for ordering tickets is 1 (866) 989-2282 extension 2101.

Smuin's holiday season production is prepared to bring you the spirit of Christmas, no matter what your personal vision of Christmas is.

This year the Smuin Ballet has announced a delightfully refreshing holiday production called The Christmas Ballet, 2010 Edition, that will open November 26th at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek before touring the rest of the Bay Area (Carmel, Mountain View, and San Francisco).

Smuin Ballet’s snow-filled extravaganza promises to be a little bit naughty, a little bit nice and boasts everything from ballet, tap, and jazz to a wealth of other dances and tunes drawn from holiday traditions from around the world, combining beautiful and traditional performances with charming, humorous, and sexy dance pieces. The 2010 Edition includes two world premieres from acclaimed Choreographer in Residence Amy Seiwert and Smuin Ballet Master Amy London to accompany time-honored favorites. Single tickets ($20, $49, $59, and $62) are available through the respective theaters.

Amy Seiwert’s Classic Christmas world premiere is a ballet for twelve dancers set to Leonard Bernstein’s sweeping version of “Carol of the Bells.” A former dancer with Smuin Ballet, Seiwert has been choreographing since 1999 and has won numerous awards and critical accolades. Now an internationally acclaimed choreographer, her works are in the repertory of Smuin Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, and Carolina Ballet, as well as Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Colorado Ballet, Robert Moses KIN, and Ballet Austin. Ballet Master Amy London’s cheery addition to Cool Christmas is set to Andy William’s tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” London has served as the Ballet Master for Smuin Ballet since 2008, having danced professionally with Hartford Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and Smuin Ballet. With more than 20 years of experience teaching ballet technique, she has choreographed over 20 works for Marin Ballet, as well as pieces for Contra Costa Ballet, Western Ballet, and the California Academy of Performing Arts.

THE CHRISTMAS BALLET, 2010 EDITION heralds the return of several favorites such as Michael Smuin’s last Christmas Ballet addition, a male solo set to a moving traditional from Spain, “La Virgen Lava Panales”; “Deck the Halls,” an enchanting trio for female dancers also by Smuin; and Amy Seiwert’s touching pas de deux set to the ethereal French carol “Noel Nouvelet.” Cool Christmas is bringing back Smuin Dancer Shannon Hurlburt’s spirited tap dance duet set to an ode to everyone’s favorite reindeer, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and will also include Seiwert’s festive group number set to Harry Connick Jr.’s, “I Pray on Christmas”, as well as a trip to, “Christmas Island”, for a visit with some gyrating hula girls and a taste of zydeco with, “Cajun Christmas”, both choreographed by Michael Smuin.

Now at the helm of Smuin Ballet is Artistic and Executive Director Celia Fushille, whose vision includes maintaining and increasing the company’s reputation for presenting accessible and innovative repertoire, attracting new audiences of all ages to the medium. The company has continued to highlight works created by Smuin, both for his own and for other ballet companies, but Fushille also enriches its impressive repertoire with newer choreographic voices, bringing the Bay Area its first look at works by exciting choreographers from around the world, as well as developing world premieres by company members.

The Walnut Creek production of THE CHRISTMAS BALLET, 2010 EDITION will open on November 26th with an 8 p.m. show and perform again on Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m. in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts at 1601 Civic Drive (at the corner of Locust Street). Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (925) 943-7469 or by visiting for more information.

Nows the time to "dig" all that jazz at the world famous "Rrazz"!

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Rrazz Room has announced the following headliners for the remainder of November, including one of my favorite jazz entertainers, OTTMAR LIEBERT, who will be in their upbeat nightclub venue on Fri, Nov 26, 8pm; Sat, Nov 27, 7 & 9:30pm; Sun, Nov 28, 7pm and tickets cost $42.50. In addition, the calendar includes such notables a Keiko Matsue, Jennifer Holiday, Cory Jamison, and second season American Idol winner Ruben Stoddard.

Keiko Matsue is a true icon of contemporary jazz with over 20 albums to her credit since the release of A Drop of Water in 1986 Keiko Matsue has sold over 1.2 million units in the U.S. alone and packs concert halls around the world. Her subsequent albums, including Under Northern Lights, No Borders, Night Waltz, Cherry Blossom, Doll, Sapphire and Dream Walk, further cemented her reputation as an innovator of a style fusing elements of classical, new age, jazz, R&B and ambient music. The performances begin on Thu-Fri, Nov 11-12, 8pm; Sat, Nov 13, 7 & 9:30pm; Sun, Nov 14, at 7pm. Tickets are $35 ($47.50 Limited VIP)

Also, the RRazz room Concert Series @ The Historic Castro Theatre Presents:

Jennifer Holliday, a performer too multi-talented to be easily categorized, is a Broadway legend, worshiped for her iconic, Tony Award winning performance as Effie White in Dreamgirls. She is an unparalleled R&B songstress who scored smash hits with classic tunes such as "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "Hard Time for Lovers, and "Heart on the Line." Miss Holliday's concert is sure to be a thrilling experience for any fan who has been touched by any of Miss Holliday's many gifts. Performance begin on Fri, Nov 12, 8pm $29.50-79.50 In the Castro Theatre at 429 Castro Street in San Francisco, CA 94114 Call for Tickets: 415.392.4400.

San Francisco-based singer Cory Jamison is one of the leading young cabaret artists in America. Her interpretations of the Great American Songbook have captivated audiences coast to coast. Jamison emerged on the national scene with her critically acclaimed centennial tribute to the composer Hoagy Carmichael and her debut CD Here's to Hoagy (LML/1999). Her sophomore CD is Kenton's Cool School: The Music of June Christy, Chris Connor, and Anita O'Day (CJam/2008). Miss Jamison performes on Tue, Nov 16, 8pm and the tickets are only $25.

American Idol Season II Winner Ruben Stoddard performs at the RRazz Room Nov 17-20. Ruben's fourth album, Love IS (Hickory Records/19 Recordings/2009) was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Love IS has been celebrated for its collection of love songs. Vibe says "The 'velvet teddy bear' can belt billowing love songs," and Entertainment Weekly called the album a "mix of crafty originals and sturdy covers." See the "Velvet Teddy Bear" live and up close at what many are calling San Francisco's premiere nightclub. Performances are Wed-Sat, Nov 17-20, 8pm; Sun, Nov 21, at 7pm and there will be a Nikki Thomas Network Free Networking Mixer in the RRazz Room Lounge and Bar from 4-7pm. Meet-and-greet with Ruben Stoddard before his final performance! Tickets are $40-45. You can find more by the visiting this web site if you have internet access:
The Rrazz Room is located at 222 Mason Street in San Francisco in the Hotel Kikko, just about four blocks from the Powell Street BART station. This is a terrific entertainment venue that I highly recommend. Their wonderful variety of nightclub entertainers provides a mix that you can only find in major metropolitan entertainment centers.