Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pigeon Forge Tennessee – Sable Theatre

Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg comprise a huge tourist venue here in East Tennessee.  Millions of visitors flock to this area adjacent to Smoky Mountain National Park every year.  Some of the better known man-made attractions are Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, the Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show, Ober Gatlinburg, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Opry, Titanic Museum and Attraction, The Comedy Barn…the list goes on and on!

We had not heard of the Sable` Theatre…until Laurie saw an ad in the local newspaper.  FYI…Sable with the hyphen in French translates to “Sand”.  I went online to take a look at the show being presented and it was so interesting that I immediately booked tickets for us…

FYI… The proper pronunciation of Sable` is ‘sub-LAY’.  The theatre is relatively small and intimate, especially when you consider what the show involves.  There aren’t any bad seats! 

“Sand” is an appropriate name for this theatre...and the show itself in entitled “Imagination in Sand”. 

This is Iryna Lialko, the sand artist who was featured throughout the show… Sand artist..?  In a large scale live show..?  How could that work?

Each segment of the show was preceded by one of Iryna’s creative and quick sand drawings set to music and timed… She had to complete them quickly and accurately to fit the timing of the various acts.  The drawings, projected on a very large screen, establish and describe the act to follow…

Iryna was born in the Ukraine.  She graduated from the International Academy of the fine arts and architecture in Kiev.  Her art has been exhibited in international competitions of painting and graphics and have also been used as illustrations in books.

If you like horses, they, along with their talented trainers and riders, are the main component of the show.   Twenty-five horses were featured in the show!  Breeds included Andalusian, Canadian, Icelandic, Arabian and Lipizzaner.

The trick riding performed by the cast was amazing… Equally amazing was the steady composure and gait of the horses as riders flung themselves off and on the horses…forwards, backwards, on the horses necks, their rumps and off the sides.

Cast members include a variety of Russian, Ukrainian and American performers.  They include dancers, acrobats, trick riders and circus performers...many of whom worked with the Moscow Circus as well as the Ringling, Barnum and Bailey circus here in the USA.  Two of the male trick riders performed some totally mind boggling stunts…acrobatics, mounts and dismounts.  I couldn’t get the name of both…but Timur Apaev was one of these amazing performers.

Every good show has to have a comedy component and Batrz Sokhiev and his co-star, an Icelandic horse, ably provided that ingredient.  The horse is obviously a character all on his own as he was loaded with personality!

Since flash photography is forbidden in the Theatre at Sable, I’ve ‘borrowed’ these photos from the theatre’s website…  

The horse actually let Batrz roll him over on his back… At one point he mounted the horse’s chest like he was riding him upside down.  In this bit, Batrz has pulled the horse’s front legs back and as he reaches for the back legs, the horse stretches them out so he can’t grab his hat… Very clever!
Batrz is also a great trick rider… I have never seen anyone slide all the way under a horse at a full run and then come up the other side.

Batrz Sokhiev was born in Uzbekistan.  He started to work at Russian State Circus Company in 2002 and then in 2007 he went to work for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus here in the USA.

These are quite literally the ‘big’ stars of the show.  The horses are trained by Sylvia Zerbini, shown here with some of her best friends. Aren't they beautiful!?

Sylvia was born in Sarasota, Florida and grew up with her parents on tour.  She is a ninth generation performer who’s entertained audiences throughout Europe, North America and South America.  She debuted when she was only five years old. Sylvia has been honored with numerous awards including the prestigious Cup of Monaco, presented to her by Monaco’s Prince Rainier.  To-date Sylvia has performed for nearly 10 million people.  She has appeared at such popular landmarks as Madison Square Garden in New York, Playa De Americas in Mexico City, Molsen Center in Montreal, and Los Angeles’ Staples Center.  She has also toured with Cavalia, an equestrian extravaganza based in Montreal Canada that puts on shows around the world. 

Here Sylvia is communicating with a few of her horses.  All communications are through gestures, body language, and a few commands in French.  She spoke to the audience following the show.  As a girl, she spent days out in pastures with horses and she learned how they ‘talk’ or communicate with each other.  At one point, (sorry no photo available), 9 horses raced around the small arena.  At her gesture, they would stop on a dime, or break off into separate groups.  Another time, she had one group of horses racing to the right and another to the left, barely brushing by each other!  Her relationship and control was amazing…

One review of Sylvia’s performances was by the Washington Post… “Cavalia reaches its peak when Sylvia Zerbini and her 8 Arabians take the stage”.  She also teaches “Liberty Horse Training”.  Sylvia has a website where you can learn more about her and her method.

Laurie and I would heartily recommend “Imagination in Sand” at the Sable` Theatre!  Even if you aren’t a ‘horse person’, the interactions between humans and horses are amazing.

Discounts are available with brochures found in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville.  There are also discounts for seniors, local residents and members of the military. If you’re worried about the cost for you and your family, children 12 and under are free!  Sable` Theatre is located at 125 Music Mountain Drive in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.  Phone: 866-272-6888.  To view photos and a video preview of the show, just go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. What an amazing theater and who would have thought you would have found this in Pigeon Forge. I know Laurie must have loved all of the horses.

    Fantastic photos.

  2. I can believe you really were Laurie's hero with this trip.

  3. Thanks for telling us about that theater.. I'm sure we have passed it on our way to the mountains -but have never heard of it. Of course, we try to stay away from that area of the Smokies --especially during the tourist season. We prefer hiking and being out in nature... BUT--that theater would be a nice place to take visitors. THANKS!!!!

    I wonder if Sylvia (and her family) were part of the Ringling Brothers... Circus.. Ringling is based in Sarasota --so I wonder if that is where she got her start... She obviously is a true Horse Whisperer.


  4. Interesting, pretty horses!