APASSIONATA, Europe’s most successful live arena show, featuring more than 40 horses of 13 different breeds, is coming to Philips Arena on June 23, 2012 for 2 performances, 3pm and 8pm. Tickets go on sale April 20 at 12pm at the Philips Arena Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Now in its ninth year in Europe, APASSIONATA has played to an audience of more than five million people in over 15 countries and now comes to North America with a new show, titled “The Beginning.” This theatrical sensation, with original music scored specifically to work with the horses, enchants families and horse lovers alike with the finest horsemanship, including magnificent dressage and exhilarating stunt riding.  The natural elegance, nobility, speed and agility of these animals is captivating.  Thirteen different breeds – from Bretons to Friesians – have been brought together from Europe and North America to create this evocative yet thrilling event.

Starting in 2003, APASSIONATA became an immediate sensation. In 2010, it won the prestigious PRG Live Entertainment’s “Best Show” award, among the highest honors in live entertainment on the European continent. The show’s success in Europe has been so remarkable and consistent that its producer-creator Peter Massine and his American producing partner Tanya Grubich, were motivated to bring the experience and excitement of APASSIONATA “The Beginning” to North America, which boasts the largest equine interest in the world.

Massine said “As APASSIONATA has grown to performing for over 545,000 people during its annual 30-city tours of the capitals of Europe, we were eager to introduce the show to the United States and Canada. Our main aim is to provide entertainment for the whole family. Whether you are young or old, everyone enjoys the two hours they spend with our horses.”

Massine and Grubich brought together an award winning, critically acclaimed, Broadway creative team led by director Scott Faris to bring all the elements together for the North American production. Faris has staged a dozen productions of the Broadway musical “Chicago,” “Bette Midler – The Showgirl Must Go On” at Caesar’s Palace and “Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena  Spectacular” which played a record-breaking forty month North American arena tour.  He was a veteran of the “Siegfried and Roy” team at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

When Massine originally created APASSIONATA, he sought out legendary horsemen and women of Europe, many of whom had spent their lives working with these animals or have continued the lineage of families that have worked with horses for generations, crossing many breeds of horses, and the wide range of how horse and man interact with each other. The emotional partnership displayed on stage between these horses and their equipes is a large part of the success of APASSIONATA.

Internationally acclaimed teams of equestrians joining APASSIONATA “The Beginning” include Sylvie Willms of the renowned Willms Family, who has devoted itself to the training and art of riding of thoroughbred horses for more than 300 years in both Belgium and France. Sylvie has been with APASSIONATA since 2003 and wows audiences with her superb freestyle Liberty Dressage and Friesian Quadrille.

Also coming to North America is team Valença, trained by Luis Valença. The reputation of this legendary grand master of the Portuguese School of the Art of Riding precedes him worldwide. Valença and his daughters have devoted their lives entirely to the training of Lusitanos and their horses have mastered to perfection various riding styles including Iberian Quadrille and Garrocha, which will be reflected in their riders’ brilliant skills.

One of France’s most talented equestrians, Laurent Jahan, will bring both his impressive exhibition of donkey comedy and his Pony Fantastique with the massive Breton, a stunning breed of draft horse. Jahan patiently spent more than three years training his donkeys, who have become fan favorites in APASSIONATA.

Icelandic native and Kentucky resident Gudmar Petursson is making his APASSIONATA debut in “The Beginning” with his equipe The Gudmar Petursson Show Team, The Knights of Iceland. Gudmar and his team have been wowing audiences across the United States for over 10 years, and when not on tour, splits his time between his training and breeding farm in Iceland and his farm near Louisville, Kentucky where he has over 40 prized Icelandic horses.

 Rounding out the North American cast of riders are the Daredevils, an all-star team of top voltigeurs – 4 French and 3 Ukrainian riders – who come together for special engagements and performances such as the North American tour of APASSIONATA “The Beginning.”  These riders delight audiences with their breathtaking stunts and thrilling feats including the “Hungarian Post.” The Daredevils are trained by Erik Hasta Luego of France. The Hasta Luegos have a long tradition with the European APASSIONATA tour where they continually impress audiences with their beautiful and spectacular show riding.

After five million tickets, fifteen countries and nearly a decade of anticipation, North American audiences will finally get to see the breathtaking display of the beauty and the bond between horse and rider that can only be found in APASSIONATA.

Please visit www.apassionata.com for the video and full tour schedule.