Sunday, a dozen or so white horses trotted, leaped and danced Downtown to the delight of hundreds of Milwaukeeans as the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions show took center court at the Bradley Center.
Being no aficionado of horses -- besides thinking, banally, that they are beautiful animals -- I admit I expected something a little more showy and circus-y, but having seen these amazing animals in action, there wasn't a moment of disappointment in the two-hour show (including a brief intermission).
Emcee Troy Tinker narrated the performace, which is part of the 37th anniversary tour of the show, started in 1970 by producer Gary Lashinsky. There seemed to be nearly as much talking as horse presentations, but unless you already know the history of these horses bred and trained for war and for ceremony by Austria's Hapsburg rulers and understand the difficulties and the subtleties of the moves, the explanations are key.
There are six lines of Lipizzans and all Lipizzans are part of that lineage of Spanish horses that were introduced into Austria more than 400 years ago. The mares were trained and bred as carriage horses and the stallions were trained and bred for war.
In this performance two Andalusian horses also performed. The Andalusians are not Lipizzans, but are the genetic forebears of them.
First we saw the horses -- and their talented riders of course -- do the basic moves. Then the moves were strung together in graceful, amazing dance routines backed mostly by classical music, but in one case, by a big band tune.
The most moving part of the afternoon came just before the grand horse ballet finale when Tinker presented a plaque to a Milwaukee veteran who, during World War II, helped Gen. George S. Patton save a number of threatened Lipizzaner horses.
That rescue was recreated in Disney's "The Miracle of the White Stallions" movie.
The Lipizzaner show was clearly a kid-pleaser, too, as children of all ages either watched in rapt attention or exuberantly expressed their approval as the horses paraded below.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.