Equine extravaganza thrills Aachen concert crowd

Jean-François Pignon and his troupe of dancing white horses.
Jean-François Pignon and his troupe of dancing white horses. © CHIO Aachen/ Andreas Steindl

Aachen’s opening concert on Friday night has thrilled spectators, and included two magical performances from French “horse whisperer” Jean-François Pignon.

The master of liberty dressage impressively demonstrated the magical connection between horses and humans, and brought the show to a grand finale: under the spotlight, he cuddled up to ten horses, a pony and a foal and received the fairytale support of an aerialist clad in a white dress, who flew into the floodlit stadium from the dark skies.

The Deutsche Bank Stadium shone for the glittering stars of the evening, presented by hosts Volker Raulf and Michael Dühn.

Starting with the “Horse and Symphony” concert by the Aachen Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the Musical Director Kazem Abdullah, the crowd was warmed up with an instrumental version of Giuseppe Verdi’s gypsy choir from the opera “Il Trovatore”.

Impressions of this year’s Aachen partner country, Switzerland, comprising of the “Dialogue avec la nature“ by Swiss composer Jean Daetwyler to the musical background of orchestra and alpine horns, rounded off the performances. The “Call from the mountains” was followed by an aerialist of the “Lufttanz” (Air Dance) Theater, who performed pirouttes in the air hanging from a crane over the dressage arena.

Shepherd Anne Krüger and her daughter, Carla, showed what tricks Indian ducks and border collies are capable of performing, earning resounding applause.

Then an impressive quadrille comprising of 12 carriages from the Rhineland Young Drivers Association sped round the arena to the sounds of the Michael Jackson hits “Billie Jean” and “Beat it”, accompanied by aspiring young dancers from the dance school, Dance Point Aachen.

The show performance “Le Carousel de Sanssoucis” led the crowd back to a past era with an elegant Baroque horse carousel. The first part of the concert ended in a true highlight: queens of vaulting, Joanne and Hannah Eccles from Great Britain conquered the dressage arena for a change instead of the vaulting circle. The two sisters impressed the spectators with an excellent pas de deux to the Freddy Mercury classic “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Then, the A-formation of the Aachen-Düsseldorf Dance Centre and Britta Rasche and Bruno da Silva were followed by a pony dressage quadrille directed by Cornelia Endres.

Part of the proceeds will again this year be donated to UNICEF and the children’s aid project “Die Sternsinger“ e.V. from Aachen.


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