Written by Eddie Ferranti
Mar 17, 2009 at 07:00 PM
ImageHouston Music Review stepped out to cover a different sort of gig at the invitation of the fine folks at Sam Houston Race Park. When Gina Rotolo offers something, we listen. This event would be no different.

The event was “Artania”, for their first time in America, a big top experience put on by the Kantemirov Family of Cossack Riders. They brought the whole shootin’ match, if you will, of Cirque-style aeriel artists (55), musicians, acrobats and the killer stars themselves, the rare Russian horses! And WHAT horses, too. Akhal-Teke Thoroughbreds, Tersks, Ukranians and Orloff Trotters.  Did I mention they were all giant horses, too?  Hell,  the Akhal-Teke is albino and traces a bloodline all the way back to Alexander the Great. It was truly incredible to see how obedient these large animals were to their keepers, performing acts that dogs would do.

Artania hit Houston March 14 for a four week run in the parking lot of SHRP. This evening was media/VIP night and it was that indeed. It was very family friendly evening with a red carpet literally rolled out. We were greeted with a bag that contained a nice program and a killer T-Shirt !  Neato. Got to plop down in front row center seats also for the very entertaining event.  Artania itself stems from a long history of Cossack horsemanship.  Alibek Kantimerov began his career as a circus rider and was the first in the history of Russian circuses to create a riding troupe. In 1947,  Alibek and his three sons created a system of “acrobats on horses”, which later became a classic art form for Russian movies. An art form indeed.

These guys are border line nuts with what they do, but it was amazing to see !  Huge horses galloping at full speed with dudes bopping on, off, around and every which way on the nags !!!   Incredible. Stunts were performed on trampolines that sent the performers at least 30 feet in thee air at times. Just to witness the tip top shape that the human body can be in was amazing. Most of the performers are actually from the National teams from Russia, Ukraine and Belarussia. High wire stunts and just humans tossing humans in the air with graceful ease was bad ass for sure. All the while the crowd was entertained by the clowns inbetween performances of either dance, horse riding or acrobatics. The beautiful lighting and  music provided kept Artania at a  very nice flow, all the way up to when it actually ended and the night was not over for us.

As we walked to the lobby tent, champagne was handed to you!   Also on plentiful display was a killer display of candies and  popcorn for all to partake in circus style. Plus a chocolate fountain pouring on strawberries was most cool and delicious, not to mention a full fruit and cheese bar to snack on. Crazy things like deep fried Oreo cookies and eatible orchids stuffed with chicken salad were also handed out by the friendly staff!  All in all it was a most satisfying evening of awe!  Glad we were invited…………..See ya “somewhere” soon!