By Claire Harlin
Trapeze artist Kimberly Souren and her husband Nicolas, a juggler, were on tour performing in Europe when they agreed to move to San Diego to perform in "Valitar" at the Del Mar Fairgrounds — a contract they said, monetarily speaking, they couldn’t pass up. Within only days of the equine-human acrobatic show’s November opening, however, they found the opportunity was too good to be true, with the show’s producers abandoning the cast and crew with no pay, and horses with no food.
But the unfortunate string of events was somewhat of a new beginning — or blessing in disguise, perhaps — for the Sourens, who have always wanted to put on their own show but have opted for the safety net of signing contracts with big traveling acts. Left unemployed after "Valitar," they had to come up with a plan.
“When we signed the contract with "Valitar," we had to say ‘no’ to all the other opportunities, so when they closed the show we were forced to wait until 2014 to sign more contracts,” Kimberly said.
The Sourens, with several other former "Valitar" performers, put on the show “Liberte” in December to help recoup wages, but many left San Diego after that one-time event. The Sourens, however, see opportunity in San Diego, and stayed along with Nicolas’ cousin, Christine Zerbini Kumisbayev, and her husband, Kumisbayev, to join forces on their new interactive production “Equidae.” The debut of the performance — set for Jan. 12 and 13 at Bonsall’s Horse Spirit Ranch — will include a trapeze act, Roman riding, juggling, hula hooping and cross-act extreme thrill riding — which was a big highlight of the "Valitar" show.
The two couples will then offer a how-to clinic on trick riding, and a VIP lunch will be served. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Horse Spirit Ranch, which rescues horses and housed the six Valitar horses for free after the show closed. Those six horses will be the stars of "Equidae."
While the performance was inspired out of necessity, Kimberly said she’s happy to work with her fellow family members. Having been hired to manage the wardrobe at "Valitar" — her first-ever non performance role — she’s also happy to get back to her art of trapeze.
Kimberly said that even though the last few months have been tumultuous, they’ve brought opportunity and also renewed her faith in humanity.
“I forgot how kind people can be,” she said, referring to the many people who offered free services and products or opened their homes to the cast left behind by "Valitar." Not only did Rancho Santa Fe resident Linda Davis track down and purchase one of the abandoned horses, but hotels such as the Hilton Del Mar offered free stays. She also said a number of locals invited her family to their Christmas dinners and bought presents for their kids. The Sourens have a 2-year-old son, Lucas, and the Kumisbayevs have three kids, ages 2 to 12. They all reside in Escondido.
“We live in a dog-eat-dog world,” said Kimberly. “It was so touching how people stepped up and treated us like family.”
For more information on Equidae or to register by Jan. 10, visit
or call (760) 822-3579. The Horse Spirit Ranch is located at 3712 Villa Del Sol in Bonsall.